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Monday, February 14, 2005

Taking a Little Break
I am taking a little break from online poker. Nothing major, I'm just going to go 2 to 4 weeks without playing online.

My decision to take a break was prompted by a bad session at the tables yesterday. I took 3 or 4 bad beats within the space of half an hour -- and I got much more upset about it than was warranted. These were beats put on by loose calling stations getting lucky on the river -- the kind of beat you should almost be happy to take. I have gotten pretty good at shaking off such beats and continuing to play solid poker. But yesterday I got upset -- and the fact that I got upset made me upset! Rather than continue playing and risk major tilty losses, I logged off, took a walk around the block, and pondered.

I think what it boils down to is that winter has finally started getting to me, and I have the February blues. This happens to me around this time pretty much every year. I'm not really depressed, just feeling very bleh, and that ain't good for my poker game.

It always comes back to the three reasons I play poker -- fun, profit, and the challenge of improving my game -- and how to balance them.

Profit. Lately, with so many bonuses out there to chase, I sometimes put pressure on myself to clear them and not waste a good opportunity. It's kind of a "Don't let the poker boom pass you by!" mentality. Sometimes I have to remind myself that online poker is a hobby for me -- not a job, and not even a major source of supplemental income. It is mainly just cheap thrills. Which is to say, I should only be playing when and because I want to, not because a good bonus is being offered or whenever I have a couple hours of free time.

Improving My Game. Last winter, I didn't play online from mid-December to March, and when I did return to the tables, my game had really suffered from lack of play. So this winter I had been trying to avoid taking such a break -- to the point of playing even though I knew I wasn't in the right mindset. I always want to improve my game, which I know requires practice, practice, practice, but it also requires the right mindset, and I think a shorter break than I took last year will help me get that.

Fun. We'll still host our home game in the next couple weeks, so I'm not taking a break from poker, just online play. I think I also may head down to Foxwoods this coming weekend or the next. There's nothing like real live casino poker to help remind me why I love this game. The convenience of online poker is great but it's exacerbating the cabin fever that I get around this time of year. The main thing I need to do is have a couple weekends where I don't spend hours in front of the computer.

Season 3 of the WPT starts next Wednesday, February 23rd, with "WPT Poker by the Book," a single-table invitational event. Watching a new WPT episode always makes we want to play, so I'll be tempted to return to the online tables next week. But I'll try to hold out until at least March 2.

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