You wouldn't know it by reading here, but I am enjoying poker right now more than I have at any point in the past three years. I look forward to it. I play at every chance I give myself. I read poker blogs every day. I think about strategy and record every session in a nifty little iPhone app. My hourly rate is fantastic. In fact, I can look at my phone and see I have played 59 hours and 46 minutes since January 1.
Why so little?
I haven't played a hand of online poker since 2008.
It seems odd, doesn't it? I'm a guy who has made his living largely off the online poker industry for more than four years. I should be shouting from the rooftops and telling everyone how great online poker is. And you know what? Online poker is great. It's a fantastic way to spend time and an even better way to make money if you're any good. I admire the people who have the time, talent, and determination it now takes to put in the required volume. I even respect the people who can play every once in a while and enjoy it.
Well, I started paying some attention to my playing habits last year. I realized that, while I was working a lot, I also had a couple hours everyday in which I was doing nothing. Guess what I did with those hours? Right on. I played online poker.
Now, this would all be well and good, except for the fact that's what I did with every unused moment. If I wasn't playing with my family or working for the man, I was playing online poker. It wasn't time to play tournaments, but it was time to put in some hours playing Razz. In short, I was killing time and paying rake for it. I also wasn't winning anymore. After four winning years, I couldn't put anything together. I was unfocused and generally not enjoying myself anymore. I had become a losing player and it was embarrassing.
Worst of all, I wasn't accomplishing anything. That was the biggest crime of all. I was losing 15-30 hours per week in an act of gambling masturbation that I wasn't even really enjoying anymore. I wasn't writing. I wasn't getting healthy. I wasn't working on a bunch of undone projects. I wasn't doing anything because I thought, "I don't have time."
And so I quit.
Not permanently, mind you. I love the game and online poker enough that I don't want to give it up forever. Thing is, when I play, I want to play for a reason. I want it to be fun or profitable or a lifestyle or something. I just want it to mean something. I want it to be worth something. Even if it's only recreational, I need it to be worthwhile.
So, my rule was this: until I finish two undone writing projects, I won't play one hand of online poker.
It's pretty amazing what the extra 15-30 hours a week can feel like. I have actually put a lot of work into both projects and accomplished a lot of other stuff I didn't even know I wanted to get done.
Even better, I'm playing live and loving it. I play a weekly game on Monday nights, an occasional home game when out-of-town bloggers come in, and when I'm on the road in South and Central America.
Yes, it's hard not to play online. I miss playing on Sundays and late nights after the wife is asleep. I've been sorely tempted a few times. So far, I've stayed true to my word.
What is going to happen? Who knows. For now, it's working and so am I. That's all I care about for now.