I’m looking at my bankroll right now and it says $0.34. Over the last six months it’s said anywhere between $0.00 and $12.56, but right now it says $0.34. Thirty four cents. About the same price as a Milky Bar, or one of them crappy candles that are about the size of the ‘OK’ sign you can make with your hand.
Thirty four cents is not a lot of money, but I dread to think how many hours I took to earn it. How much that thirty cents has cost me in blood.
On a standard day I’ll play about 2-3 freerolls. In the afternoons I’ll play Unibet’s freeroll for €200, Win Cake’s qualifiers in the evenings, and on the lonely Friday or Saturday nights I play Pokerstars’ Omaha FL High/Lo.
I’m pretty good at that one. I’m batting about .200 in qualifying for the Sunday event through it.
Sometimes I’ll sprinkle some play money cash games in there, too. Hey, why not? Let’s get a little crazy here.
Once I’ve qualified though, when I’ve got into one of those tournaments with the real money, the tension gets to me. I folded trips against bottom pair once. Bled chips on bluffs on many of the others. Usually I get a little shakey about the time we hit the money. Then, who knows. Sometime it’s gets to me, and sometimes I make 34¢.
This all may sound somewhat pathetic to some of you. Writing like a bigshot about winning and losing chicken scratch. Less than chicken scratch even, because you’ve got to pay for that. Imagery chicken scratch.
Having to make due duking it out in the pit of starving vipers that is the freerolls. Scrapping around in one of the thousands of murky, bottomless pits with a thousand snakes with bad beats and check-raises for teeth when I could be dining on whale blood at my leisure.
I’ve never paid any bill with poker earnings, I’ve never withdrawn any winnings and I’ve never gone broke. Call me a fish. Call me a rookie. Call me a donkey, whatever. But I’m happy with the poker lifestyle I lead. It allows me to stay sane, too.
About a year ago I deposited a little money, which I lost in a couple of weeks on badly chosen cash tables and optimistic tournaments. I put in a little more money which I lost even quicker.
When I reached to put even more money, something tugged at me. Like there was a thin hook snaking around inside my gut. I could feel the faint scrapes and gnawing of the start of an addiction. Or what I imagined it to feel like.
I’ve never been smart but I’ve always read. I’ve read about kids younger than me bankrupting themselves when they should be doing algebra homework. I’ve read about big stars who won big crumble, still in their prime. I know how far down beneath yourself an addiction can take you.
I know that even WSOP bracelets don’t mean shit if you keep spending the prize money.
What I felt that day could have been the start of something terrible. But it wasn’t, and I’ve never put any money into poker since. Hopefully I never will.
I sometimes wonder what could have happened, if I’d kept playing. Just, powered through what I was feeling. Maybe I could have won big tournaments, raked in thousands on a cash table, paid all my bills on felted tables online.
But I know for every success there’s a thousand sob stories. A thousand dreams hampered by a bank account that slowly bleeds into oblivion. A thousand people who didn’t know when to stop.
I’m glad I stopped. I’m glad I barely even started.
So you can call me a fish, or a rookie, or a donkey, or even a coward; but call me clean as well. It’s been over a year now since I’ve played to play poker. And I can thank the freerolls and the play money tables for allowing me to keep that promise with myself. To let me lead a sustainable, safe poker lifestyle.
And who knows, maybe I will win the big tournaments someday. Maybe someday, if I make it out of the pit of vipers, maybe this 34¢ of blood will be worth a bit more.
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