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Going Broke In Las Vegas (PART 2)



In the previous list of my daily routine there is something glaringly missing that many readers may have already noticed it's absence.  One thing that I rarely did back in those days was study the game.  I did not come to the game after having read many books and analyzed the intricacies of poker.  Instead like many others, I came to the game off of the high of Chris Moneymaker winning the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event and thinking that I could also easily become a millionaire through this game.  And for a while that seemed very possible as poker was incredibly easy in the immediate aftermath of the "boom."  If anywhere, I cut my poker teeth playing in the $3-$5 and $5-$5 NLH games at Hollywood Park and at the Bike in the Los Angeles area.  And in those games it was common to call down big river bets with ace high and win and to face a plethora of opponents who often got their entire stacks in the middle with close to nothing.  The situation did not change much when I first arrived in Las Vegas as the games there were also incredibly soft.  It felt as if there was no compelling reason to study and the big mistake that I and many other players made was to become complacent and fall behind.  I like to tell a story that illustrates this point perfectly.  One evening I was playing $1-$3 NLH at the Treasure Island Casino when I found myself heads up in a pot with my friend Dave.  He checked the river at which point I made a sizable bet with absolute air.  He tanked for a bit then called me down with middle and bottom two pair to win the pot.  As the dealer was pushing the chips to my friend, another player on the table remarked, "Wow, you really polarized your range with the sizing of your bet."  At this point my friend immediately asked for a table change and when I asked him why, he simply remarked that he did not want to play in any $1-$3 game in which players were talking about concepts such as polarizing ranges. 

The game was changing and I did not change with it.  The story directly above occurred in 2009 and I was not even using a HUD then when playing online.  I took it for granted that the game would always be easy to play and that others would not get any better.  Of course what ended up happening was the exact opposite and I would go from printing, to not winning enough to simply losing.  From there I lost my condo, had to sell my car and everything else just about unraveled from there.  But before everything had come to an end, I did find myself at a bit of a crossroad that could have saved me had I made the correct choice.  Even as things were beginning to fall apart, I still had a roll online.  But as I mentioned I was not playing all that much there and I was running out of money to play live.  I had a choice between taking what was left of my live roll and to use it to bolster my balance online or to completely clear out my online accounts and continue to play live.  I remember agonizing over this decision one night in the parking lot of an Olive Garden after having dinner with friends.  But hindsight is 20/20 and looking back on it now I clearly made the wrong choice in deciding to play live.  Playing online would have allowed me to play smaller, make rakeback and I could have used the time not playing live to study.  I cannot be sure that this would have reversed everything, but regardless of what the result might have been it was clearly the more correct choice.

I mentioned that I lost my condo when I went broke.  I should clarify that it was a three bedroom baller pad at a place called Country Club Towers, on the 11th floor right behind the Wynn Resort.  Fully furnished, the place cost me $2,400 per month and I had no business living there, even when I was winning let alone when I started to win less and eventually lose.  There is much that I could have done to mitigate for the fact that my financial situation was not the same.  But I stubbornly tried to hang on to my lifestyle in an attempt to save face with others and to not admit to myself that I was heading for catastrophe.  By the time I lost the condo I could no longer afford to get even a cheaper place as I did not have enough to pay a month’s rent and a deposit to secure a place.  And as my credit rating was quite bad I probably would have had to pay more than that.  Instead I had to rent hotel rooms by the night which ended up costing me much more per month than a regular apartment would have been.  On weeknights I was usually able to get a room on the strip for $25 a night at the Imperial Palace.  But on weekends those rooms were either booked or cost much more so I had to rent a room at those monthly places off the strip for around $75 per night.  Had I faced up to my situation sooner, I still would have had enough money to ditch the condo unit and get a cheap studio place for around $400 per month.  As I previously stated there were many factors that contributed towards going broke.  But in the day to day moment, my living situation exacerbated matters more than anything else.  Whatever I could win on a given day I had to take a significant portion out of it to pay for these rooms.  And if I did not win, I had to take from the previous day’s winnings, or perhaps the day before and so on and so on.  It placed an excruciating amount of pressure on me as I played and created a situation in which it was virtually impossible to win.  I began this blog post by placing some of the blame on circumstances outside of myself.  But as time passed it became evident that I made literally every wrong decision possible.

My life now is far different than what it used to be.  I am fortunate to be in a place where I no longer have to play for my entire living, although I still do enjoy playing.  And while I do so more now, I probably do not study as much as I should.  But I do not bemoan the fact that time for such things now get rerouted to my family and business.  Still I do very much miss playing poker for a living as it was just about the coolest thing I ever did in my life.  In the back of my mind, I probably still wish I could return to that life.  And even though I do not play for a living anymore, I still surround myself in my social circle with other poker players.  Two of the biggest winners in the country are probably in my inner circle, those that understand what it is like to play and do so for their livelihood.  And while I do have a fairly active social life here, my friends are the epitome of discipline and understand that all of that comes after we play.  And on nights they need to put in more volume, we simply do not go out as there is always the next night.

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