Tuesday, October 28, 2008

why I'm not playing much lately, and why that is probably good

Sometimes the most +EV decision you can make in poker is to stay away from the tables. Whether they be virtual or real life, it's rare that you can bring a moderate or weak focus to the game and expect good results. Especially in the games and stakes I currently find myself.

Lately for various reasons (most of which personal and I'm not sure I feel like delving in to) I've found myself emotionally uninterested in grinding. I constantly load up FTP, start mining hands and look to see if the games are good. I would say on thursday, friday, saturday, and sunday the games were all fantastic. Despite that I only played on thursday and couldn't find the effort to sit once over the weekend. Some might say this is fairly pathetic given I spend most of my time doing activities purely for my own enjoyment. Those folks would think that my inability to sit and grind for even a couple of hours shows a lack of dedication or just plain laziness on my part. While I could understand where this sentiment would be coming from, these I think would be the people that would struggle (and possibly fail) with the psychological aspect of playing poker for living, something I believe is the most difficult aspect.

One thing I've discovered in the last couple of years is that if you don't feel like playing, you shouldn't play. Just because you had planned on playing does not mean that you have to keep some kind of interpersonal gambling appointment. Poker is an entirely voluntary game and noone can tell you when you should be playing. I have no obligation to anyone beyond paying my bills and my taxes. If I am adequately taking care of those two responsibilities then I don't have a compelling reason to play if I don't want to.

While this all seems very rudimentary, I think there is a deeper message I'm trying and failing miserably at illuminating. The idea is not only that playing when you don't want to play will be -EV because it is unlikely that you will bring or sustain your A game to the tables, but it is also -EV for your personal quality of life. Earning money only has so much value as it allows you to do what you want with your life. In my case I enjoy playing poker, but I also enjoy a myriad of other pursuits. If monetarily I am not wanting, then the opportunity cost of not playing poker is no greater in my mind than the opportunity lost to enrich myself or in general enjoy my day. It's this idea that we (speaking mostly of middle to upper class Americans here) must be constantly accumulating wealth that baffles me.

Take the last 12 months of my life. I could have easily doubled my earn in that time if I had put in 2.5x as much time playing as I did (I say 2.5x playing because as you play more you won't be able to game select as much and you won't be able to be on your A game for as long). However the time cost, physical toll, and mental wear probably would have caused a significant dip in my quality of life (which was quite high imo). Would an additional $XXXXXX provide me with something that would have raised my quality of life from what the additional playing time took away? I don't know. But my quick random blog thought assessment says no. I can't think of any trips, meals, outings, or toys that I desperately wanted to go on, own or use that would have increased on any meaningful level my quality of life. For the most part in terms of freedom of personal time I have been in a nearly ideal situation over the last 12 months. Typically anything that I wanted to do I could do it. Both because I had the time, and I had the freedom. Once you've achieved that, what more can a job that you actually enjoy really offer?

I could ramble on and on about this and get into the levels that I find much more interesting. But chances are that my off the cuff 4AM blogging isn't really such tremendous prose. Most of what I find interesting about all of this relates much more to psychology, sociology, philosophy, and political science than to poker. And since I neither have the resources nor the knowledge of the people that have made these arguments before (and most certainly better and more clear than I am) anything further would simply be rambling conjecture on subjects that people who check out my blog probably have no interest or understand better than me.

Maybe I'll drag a friend to a bar sometime this week and wax philosophical over some octoberfest or an IPA, before it goes from jacket-weather to coat-weather.

FWIW I've been really enjoying a few bands lately that people may or may not know about. For some reason I pull these two out every fall and find there music appropriately moody (and dare I say emo) for the season. I tend to find myself matching genres with seasons, and fall is definitely my punk, alt, emo, rock time of the year. The bands I'm spending most of my time listening to are ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and Brand New. AYWKUSTD is much more out there, but very very interesting and Brand New (imo) is simply the only bad to make emo rock that I really respect. Then again I think its questionable if there stuff is really emo, or if its just serious alt-rock. Without a doubt I think they put out serious heavy albums of the type that I haven't really found since At The Drive-In split into Sparta and Mars Volta.

thats all for now. Still looking for a Halloween costume. Some of the ideas have been really solid, but nothing has really stuck. I think in general I'm looking for something a little more humorous, but at least one of the suggestions did make me lol. I'm still looking for an idea of what to do on Halloween as surprisingly none of my friends seem interested this year, so it could be that I won't even be doing anything interesting. meh.

No comments: