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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.

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