A Humbling Year: Reevaluating My Poker Goals and Progress

As we enter 2023, I’ve been doing some self-reflection on my poker goals, progress, and overall approach to the game that we all know and love. In short, 2022 was a humbling year for me, and I would like to share my thoughts and experiences.

When I returned to poker in 2021, the skills I had learned over a decade ago ago quickly came back to me. In just 6 months, I turned an initial $140 buy-in into over $10,000, hitting this milestone just before ringing in the new year.

At the start of 2022, I set a monetary goal of reaching a $25,000 bankroll for the year, as well as several other poker goals including shot taking, poker vlog updates, and so forth. As of April 2022, I hit my monetary goal just 4 short months into the year.

At this point, I was feeling excited and confident about the prospect of playing poker more than just recreationally. However, after discussing the idea with my wife, poker as a career didn’t seem to be in the cards (no pun intended) at this stage of our lives.

At the time, it felt like the biggest hurdle to playing professionally was not having a large enough bankroll to act as a buffer to account for all of our regular expenses, as poker would need to take the place of my guaranteed salaried income. With that, I felt pressured to try to play bigger games, different variants, and big tourneys — despite not being much of a tournament player — in hopes of building up my bankroll even faster. The end result is that, after a period of wavering, I ultimately lost back the $15,000 that I won at the beginning of 2022, bringing my bankroll back to the $10,000 that it was at the beginning of the year.

Some of these losses were definitely sick beats (e.g. losing an over $5,000 pot as an 85% favorite on the flop, which certainly stings). Of course, despite luck being a significant part of poker in the short term, I can’t blame everything on it. I certainly made mistakes, the biggest two of which pertain to playing outside my bankroll (beyond just “taking a shot”), and playing in games where I felt uncomfortable, meaning I wasn’t playing my A-game.

So here we are, one year later at the start of 2023, again sitting at a $10,000 bankroll at the start of the year — the exact same place I was at the start of 2022. After reflecting on the year and the mistakes I’ve made, I’ve made some important decisions related to my game.

  1. I’m pausing the poker vlog. I may return to it in time, but I need to focus on my game. By not publishing to the vlog, I won’t feel undue pressure to win or play suboptimally for the sake of the vlog.
  2. I’m going to focus on playing $1/2 for the foreseeable future since that’s where I feel the most comfortable. I know I’m a winning player at that game, and it’s what I’m bankrolled for at this point.
  3. I’m going to spend much more time studying than I did previously. More reading books, more sharing hands from sessions for feedback, more discussions.

There are additional changes I’m making beyond these (such as not setting monetary poker goals), but these are the most significant changes worth calling out. Although I’m a bit disappointed about the prospect of not continuing the poker vlog for the time being, I have nothing but high hopes and expectations if I continue to focus, study, and play within my means.

5 replies on “A Humbling Year: Reevaluating My Poker Goals and Progress”

I hope you get the luck you deserve. You sound well balanced and sensible so not the standard poker player! I hope I haven’t seen the last poker vlog by you. Take care…

Hey, thanks for the kind words! I’m still out there playing, and I’m working on re-building my bankroll at the small stakes again ($1/2 NLH). I’m definitely interested in resuming the vlog, but I don’t have a date at this point, and don’t want to set false expectations. Keep an eye out though, and good luck at the tables!

I really enjoyed your vlogs but would be happy to get updates via your blog as well. I appreciate this openness and honesty. You’re a terrific player and you will be climbing the ranks again.

Hey Matt. My mother passed in October of last year, after which I was feeling pretty lost. I was on my lunch break one day a few months later and was just kind of thinking back on my life, and I remembered that I was obsessed with poker a long time ago. I decided I wanted to see what poker was like these days, so I did a search on YouTube for “poker tutorial”. One of your videos came up as a result, so I started watching it. I remember feeling like you were speaking a foreign language or something. I was so confused about what “range” and “stack” and “c-bet” meant. Since then I’ve seen all of your videos many, MANY times each and have been playing 1/3 semi-regularly (two to four times a month) at my local casino. I’m up about $550 since then (I was up over $1200 but had some REAL bad days) and I have to attribute a lot of those wins to you. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve gone through such a major downswing, and I definitely understand you and your wife having concerns about that, but I have learned a lot from you so I really hope you find your way back to vlogging at some point. I don’t mean to get too heavy here, but your vlogs literally helped me with the grieving process, so I really feel like I owe much of my happy days since October to you. And I hope your wife believes me when I say that I’m not a plant who’s conspiring with you against her😂Thanks for everything you’ve done, man. I wish you the best of luck in the future.

Am a big fan of your vlogs and started playing at Lodge after seeing your videos. Do you still play at the lodge? If yes, I would love to meet/play with you. I usually play the free roll tournaments on tue/thur and move to the 1/2 cash game if I get busted. Hope to play with you sometime!

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