Thursday morning, my day off now that I work the weekend shift, I was up at 7:00 for the drive to my older daughter's school. I got to bed at 2:00 the night before and lay awake until 6. I'm not sleeping well lately. Some nights I try to lie down early but get caught up in mental conspiracy. Most nights I spend the last few hours before the alarm sounds stealing glances at the clock and counting backwards the hours 'till work. Wednesday night I counted the hours until "Doughnuts for Dads."
We chased Krispy Kreme with OJ in the school library, sitting with a girl from my daughter's class and her father. I introduced myself to the other exhausted, and ponytailed, dad. He pointed to the letters written in black ink, probably drawn from a ballpoint pen, and said, "Call me Taz."
It seems his daughter is the girl who matches mine in both good grades and poor discipline. Actually, my daughter is incredibly kind, honest, considerate and loyal. She's just a little too energetic. One night, as we got her ready for bed, she started crying about her own bad behavior. "I want to be good," she whined, "I don't know why I'm squirmy."
That kept me up late too.
It's probably true that we wouldn't feel the rush of a win without the pain of a loss. This summer I took an unbelievable heater for granted. By September, when I returned from Vegas, I often told Blood I could probably make a living off of poker. At the time, it was true. I was more successful as a poker player than as a journalist this year.
In the middle of the month, things began to change. I took a tough loss playing $2-$5 NL, dropping two buy-ins. Then, two days later, I dropped 6... yes 6... buy-ins playing $1-$2 NL at Gucci Rick's. Then, after 2 losing sessions at the Spring Hotel, I went from overly confident to outright depressed. I wrote this to my local poker cabal:
"Last night, when I got home, I deleted all the poker software from my laptop.
It will be some time before I play poker again.
That's right folks, I'm a very emotional boy. Luckily I have good friends to talk me through. Here's the response from BadBlood:
"You know, rather than the brute force method of describing your current
mindset, I would honestly be interested in the psychology of how you feel now vs. how you felt when you were running so hot. The reason being is that we ALL go through those same ups and downs. Mark was about to quit, got a bit hot, and stopped whining. I won't even go into the times when I did my best impersonation of a sandy vaj.
Seriously, it's amazing to me how we can go from one extreme to the next in this game. Mastering the psychology of those swings is the secret. And now you have a chance to work out of your funk somehow. And when you do, it would be enlightening to hear what you did and why you did it."
And here's what Otis said:
"G-Rob has done what G-Rob does. He advances far faster at everything he does than most people. He just hit that spot that everybody hits. The end of a heater is a terrible thing to endure. I know this very well. In fact, I'm still dealing with it."
G-Rob, you know you're an emotional guy. Your highs are high and your lows are are deep, deep lows. You went on a heater that we all envied. When a heater ends, it is everybody's first instinct to try to revive it. Even though we think we're playing our same game, we aren't. There is some undefinable element that changes. More often than not, it's a combination of diminished confidence mixed with latent desperation to get it all back. To be fair, you know you don't suck. Your reading abilities are better than most people. Your NL game is insanely good and I'm mad I ever invited you to play in the first place. I think you know your rush was a combination of your superior play combined with a little bit of good luck. The luck has turned around a little bit. That doesn't change your knowledge of the game. You do, indeed, need to take a break. It doesn't have to be defined. Just sit back for a few days and enjoy something else. That's harder than it sounds, because common sense tells you that the sooner you turn it around, the sooner you can get back to killing the games. One thing I've been telling myself recently is something Blood reminded me of about six months ago: There is no hurry. Think about it. One year ago, your game wasn't as good and you had very little roll to speak of. In a very short amount of time, you built a huge roll and were able to do a lot of cool things with it.
TheMark was in the loop with all these e-mails an the like. He don't rite gud tho.
My oldest daughter has one great problem that she'll always struggle with, her emotional wiring is identical to mine. I'm incredibly proud of her, of course, but even I am stumped with how to help. We got her school progress report last week and she made all A's... again. She's never made anything else. The report also cane with a note from the teacher, that her behavior is a problem.
Then last night she brought home another note from the teacher, she'd been in trouble for talking in class. It's the 6th such note in the past 4 days. We sent her to her room for the night after dinner and she, of course, threw a fit. The problem is, as bad as she acts at times, she's not a bad girl.
The last thing I want is for her to have that impression, that people think she's "BAD." That's a hard label to overcome and, believe me, I know. She's the kind of girl who won't accept a candy at the doctor's office unless they'll give her an extra to bring home to her sister. She is so responsible around the house that, at times, we can forget that she's only 7 years old. Still, I know she's perpetually upset about the trouble at school. I'm not sure how to help.
On those nights when I lie awake, I think about 3 things:
How can I help my daugher stop acting like I always did?
How can I move ahead with my career and keep providing for my family?
Why do I still suck at poker?
The third seems awfully trivial by comparison, but I'm finding the solutions can be awfully similar in the end.
That, and I've been taking NyQuil this week.
I think I'd gotten too clever at poker. I started to think, after MONTHS of big wins, that every move I tried would work... as if all other players were too stupid to match wits with me.
Then, when I started losing, I got frustrated that those moves weren't working and tried to be ever more clever. It blew up in my face.
Monday, at Gucci Rick's I stripped it all back down and played almost beginner level ABC poker. I won 2 buy-ins. Not big, but it felt awfully good.
As for my daughter, I'm not convinced simply sending her to her room is the right play either. It never worked for me. In fact, as my parents grew constantly more frustrated with me, that was always their response until, totally exasperated, I think they felt almost powerless.
I plan to use my friends' advice.
The brute force method of a nasty funk will not work. Instead it will reinforce our failures. I need to understand the psychology of my own shortcomings before I can help my daughter. Blood was right.
And as Otis says, there is no hurry. I don't want to overreact to every note home, or allow their collective weight to become a crisis. There is time to help my daughter learn self control and I don't want my solution to cause more damage.
For a week or two that's what happened to my poker game.
I can't let it happen with something... important.