This is your fair warning that this might be long, and you bet that coming from me it's going to be tangential, but I've had these thoughts rolling through Vegas, and everytime I try to form a decent post, absolutely nothing comes out. So, this is how you get it.
Yes, I feel I've hit a plateau in regards to poker, and I'm not really sure what needs to be done in order to break through to the next level, if that's even possible. I'm not a terrible player, hell I'm not even bad, but I know I'm not good. I'm not even close to good. But I've been playing the same limits for quite some time now, using the same moves I know will work to milk money from all the players worse than I am, and I've come to the point where I'm stagnant.
The second I boarded the plane back to Minneapolis a week ago, I had the sudden feeling that I didn't want to leave. And that never happens to me. By the fourth day I'm usually begging a plane to pick me up from the hotel so I don't have to tip another cabbie, but this time was different. I did not want to leave.
Not only was I leaving friends that I just wasn't done talking to and having fun with, but I was coming back to bitterly cold Minneapolis, neither of which are particularly pleasant thoughts. I've got many, many friends here in the city, but the conversations and deep-down belly laughs of a Vegas weekend are not something that I'm privelged enough to experience in my day-to-day life. Is it any real wonder that I didn't want to leave? It honestly doesn't get better than that.
After only about 10 hours of live table play last week, it's so clear why internet poker isn't as much fun as sitting at a table with a few friends, a few fish and a pile of chips. I'm a visual person. Even though online sites try their best to recreate a live cardroom experience, it's just not the same. There's no rush online when you're stacking someone else's chips, because--whoosh--you win the pot and it's immediately in your bankroll. Part of the fun of live play, for me, is dealing with every one of my senses at the same time, and that's not something that comes up in online play. Sliding a pile of chips through your fingers, hearing the word "raise" when I hold the mortal nuts and how it makes my heart jump, seeing someone's surprised reaction after being check-raised on every damn street; those are all the things that make poker exciting for me. And I just don't get that online. Clicking a mouse in a vacuum is not fun.
So, yeah, the inadequacies in online play have caused poker boredom. There's no way I'm quitting the game, so I need to find ways to get past this, so I can start learning again.
With the various poker forums and the like, a poker player has a bevy of unbelievable knowledge right at their fingertips. That's great, really it is, but like I said, I am a visual person. I learn better by hands on, by doing, and not by reading hand histories or playing "How many bets did I miss?" with anonymous people around the country. There is no excitement in that for me. At all.
Last night was our weekly $1 drink night at a bar a few blocks from my house. Things were going as usual, beer was being turned into urine, Jag shots were being downed, and then in walked one of bartenders wearing the tightest jeans I've ever seen that weren't painted on. To say that she had a magnificent ass would not being doing it justice. I'm not one of those guys that gets all worked up over scantily clad women, but this was one of those instances where I said "Good god" and actually drank more than I normally would in order to dumb down my senses so I wouldn't get caught staring. And I was happy to witness it.
But had someone tried to describe to me what was going on under those jeans, it would not have been even close to the same. Words are not a substitute for being there.
One of the best cardrooms in the whole country is 1/2 hour from my house, but that's still a 1/2 hour from my house. In order to play, I have to dodge traffic after my 'real job' or play on a weekend, and that requires waiting over an hour for a seat. That's a drag, and right now it's the only choice I have right now for live play. Sure, there's a ton of bar freerolls around, but that's not going to make me a better player, it's only going to get me drunk.
Poker, in this part of the country, seems to have gone all Arthur Fonzarelli on water skis. A year and a half ago, it was easy to get people together for a home game, and I even had a few friends that I was able to replay hands with, talk strategy with, and get the mental stimulation that I needed when I was away from the tables. I get none of that now.
I don't remember the last time I had a game that had more than 4 people in attendance, and when it does happen, someone always tries to put stipulations on how much they want the buy-in to be, or what games should be played(because they don't understand anything other than hold 'em). I'm not looking to fleece my friends out of their money, but it just isn't that fun to play for $5, and as Felicia says, ALL HOLD'EM ALL THE TIME, is boring. I wish that I could say that I'm not jealous of G-Vegas and Murderers Row, but I am.
It's not a miracle that many of you out there that regularly attend these games are noticeably improving. I can even see it all the way from flyover country. One must get better to survive(and not look the part of a fool), and that's exactly what's being done. Not here in Minneapolis, though. Nope, just me and my good friend, Stasis.
It just comes down to having the uneasy feeling that I'm just not getting any better. I may be running hot at any particular time, but that still doesn't mean I feel competent in a game where money obviously isn't all I'm after. Sure, I could read books in order to improve, but I've read so many books on poker that they just aren't piqueing my interest, and "playing by the book" isn't what I'm all about, not to mention that it makes for boring poker.
Spending a weekend with like-minded people might make anyone try to shun complacency, but that's where I sit right now, attempting to find a way to spark that dying flame that poker has stoked for the last 2 1/2 years. I've invested far too much into the game--and friendships gained because of it--to give up now.