Mediocre to Good in 6 Months or I Quit

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Mediocre to Good in 6 Months or I Quit

28.6.2019

Hi.

I'm a 29-year-old Finnish person who is bored with his life and thinks starting a poker blog might change that. What follows is a wall of text so you may or may not want skip to the end where the cliffnotes are located.

Road Here

I'll just do this in bullet points to try not to be boring:

2007:
• Started playing
• Studied a bit
• Started winning
2008-2009:
• Kept playing
• Studied way too little
• Won consistently and rose up to 400nl online
• Also played live at my local casino every now and again
2010:
• Started military service
• Didn't play during military service (it lasted 6 months)
• Started playing again
• Didn't bother to study
• Started university
• Didn't bother to study
• Poker went horribly
• University went horribly
• Came very close to going broke
• Quit university
2011-2012:
• Started studying poker again
• Started winning again
• Started another school (one step below university so maybe college?)
• Was making ends meet by playing poker (was still living at my parents house at this point so not impressive at all)
2013:
• Moved out of parents house
• Tried to cover expenses by playing poker while studying
• Income was lower than expenses so went broke
2014-2016:
• Got a job
• No time for college, job, and poker so played only very occasionally
• Graduated late 2015
• Switched over to current job mid-2016
• Still didn't play poker
2017-2018:
• Felt like starting to play poker again
• Deposited and started at 25nl zoom
• Finally put some effort into studying and started winning
• Started playing at the 250nl game at my local casino on average maybe once a month (only on the weekends because of work)
• Rose to 50nl pretty quickly and kept winning (winrate was on the smaller side but I felt good to finally be a clear winner again)
• Started playing 100nl zoom and got crushed
• Moved back down to 50nl and was about breaking even
• Got demoralized, decided it wasn't worth it, and quit playing online
• Was a decent winner at the live game and was enjoying it so kept doing that
2019:
• Deposited online again and started playing mostly at 100nl (MPN and RIO)
• Have won about 800 € online and 2600 € live this year

As you can see, my poker "career" has basically been an endless loop of doing alright for a while and rising in stakes, then starting to lose, then losing interest and quitting, then getting back into it and repeating the whole thing. It's not been terrible but I've never really been able to break out of this cycle of mediocrity. I'm fine with the amount of hours I've put in, the problem is that those hours have mostly been spent playing and not enough of them have been spent studying. An even bigger problem has been that the quality of the studying has been too low. I've watched videos and played with solvers without really going through the thought processes required to understand the concepts on a deeper level and applying them correctly. This has obviously lead to some very questionable poker playing on quite a few occasions. That said, I think I've gotten better on this front and last year I went through Mathematics of Poker incredibly slowly and meticulously, which I think has helped my understanding of poker theory quite a bit. There is obviously still an incredibly long way to go though.

Numbers-wise all of this amounts to maybe 60k € in winnings. I didn't keep any records from the first couple of those years so this is just an estimate based mostly on skrill transfer history, bank statements and memory. Below is a graph and stake breakdown of the hands that I still have in a database (the zoom hands from 2017-2018)

Current Situation

I'm at a point where I can't keep devoting so much of my free time to online poker and barely making any money at it. I'll have to either brake out of this mediocrity and start making some actual money or quit playing actively and use the time to pursue other interests. I do love the game and I don't think I'll ever truly quit but if I can't make it I'll probably play very little online and just focus on playing live when I feel like it and have the time. If I can't make it, that's sort of fine, but I feel I've invested too much in this and have come too far not to give it one more push. I'll give myself until the end of the year to learn how to play. If my results are still mediocre at that point and I feel like I haven't improved much, I'll stop dreaming about poker as a serious source of income / profession and just treat it as a hobby. There is one more layer of uncertainty added to this by the fact that the Finnish government is considering blocking online poker to all other operators except the state monopoly. This would effectively kill online poker in Finland above maybe 50nl so it sort of seems silly to put a lot of effort into learning now when it might all be in vain if the law is passed. However, this is out of my hands and passing this will probably take a long time anyway. I'll also still be able to play live poker so it's not like the knowledge will be totally useless even if the law is passed.

Another thing I'm unhappy with is the work. Objectively, it's absolutely fine. It pays fairly well, I'm good at it, and I'm given way more time than I could ever need to do it. It's just that I find it incredibly boring and uninteresting, and my colleagues are mostly about 20-30 years older than me and have completely different topics of interest so conversations tend to be either work-related or feel forced, shallow and awkward. Most of all what bothers me is the same thing that would bother me with any regular job. It's the fact that it takes up such a massive bulk of your time, ties you to a time and place for most of your days, and that you really have to basically plan your whole life around it. I'm not delusional enough to think that achieving financial independence to do what I want and follow my curiosity is somehow easy, but at least I can try. And if poker doesn't work out, I should certainly find something more interesting to do. If I can't make enough money from poker to play professionally, and maybe even if I can, I think I might go back to university (probably Economics or Computer Science). There is this ridiculously good benefits program in Finland for adults who have at least 8 years of work experience and want to go back to school. The amount of the benefit received depends on your income level but I would get about 1800 € a month for 15 months for doing nothing but studying. I've always loved school so that seems too good to pass up.

Plan Going Forward

First of all, social life and exercise take priority over poker and I obviously do have to work so my available time is limited. Summers in Finland are also short so I'm planning to enjoy it while it lasts. With that said, I still have plenty of time to spend on poker if I just prioritize it over watching tv and things like that. Here is my rough plan to improve at poker for the rest of the year:

July - September:

• Find effective ways of studying and focus heavily on building a strong theoretical foundation (any recommendations for the "must see" videos or other sources with this goal in mind would be super appreciated)
• Play enough to keep the feel for the games but do not focus on volume (will probably start with 100z and will also be trying to start games at RIO)
• Be very careful not to try change your game too much too quickly without knowing what you're doing, incremental changes are the way to go

October - December:

• Keep improving your game but start shifting emphasis on putting in more volume at the tables
• Hopefully results will follow

Cliffnotes

• Have been playing for 12 years, have won maybe 60k € during that time so nothing to brag about (winnings also heavily weighted to 2008 & 2009)
• This year have played mostly 100nl online and 250nl live, barely up online and do ok live
• Have until the end of the year to become a good player or I quit
• Also bored with working for a living

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