Editor's Note: In addition to being a poker enthusiast, gambling columnist, and lecturer, John is a National Certified Counselor (NCC). He has a Master of Arts degree in Counseling from West Virginia University, and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Lock Haven University. You can arrange for interviews, speaking engagements, or ask your question to "the Poker Counselor" at firstname.lastname@example.org
I've been playing more and more poker online. I work 40 hours plus at the office and maybe 30-35 hours of poker after that. I'm starting to no longer enjoying playing online. Even though I make a profit almost every week, it is just not very fun to me anymore. I live too far from a casino to play live poker. What can I do to change this? - emailed by Martin T.
Losing the zest for the game is never a good sign. The fact you have lost the fire despite the fact that you are consistently winning is especially disheartening. I've spent time talking about this aspect of poker with professionals such as Phil Hellmuth, Scott Fischman, and Annie Duke. These, and other pro poker players, have each logged countless hours on the poker tables. From backroom cash games lasting 48 hours straight to tournaments lasting 4 days, they've grinded out demanding play sessions time and again. Even though they have pushed themselves to this excruciating level many times, each still has that internal hunger for the game. All of the professionals that I know still consider the game to be fun and enjoyable. They all enjoy the camaraderie, the competition, and the climb toward greatness. Poker must be a personal journey, and it sounds like you've lost your way. What is your goal in poker? Where do you see yourself (in the game) in the next year, in 2 years, and in 10 years? What levels do you aspire to play at? What poker accomplishments do you want to have reached? My guess is that you'd have a hard time honestly responding to any of those questions. You are instead playing the game out of habit, at this point. You are emotionally detached from poker. Perhaps your method of play is part of the problem. The internet has a way of lulling the user into a mindless, mechanical state. The monotony only leads to a negative perception. While you may be able to get profits online by playing in this manner, you are not truly expanding yourself and improving your game. Players like Thomas "Thunder" Keller make a sick amount of money online. He does this by keenly playing his opposition, not his cards. He is a special player, as he is able to stay focused and hungry even though he spends most of his waking hours staring at a laptop screen. His goals are defined. His play is intense. He still finds it to be fun. I see a key need of yours to be to take the game more seriously — less casually. With more studied, focused poker, you could pull bigger profits in less amount of time. You could cut back play time to have some other portions of a life other than work, sleep, and poker. Get focused by setting strict personal and poker goals. Take copious notes on your play. Identify the styles of your opposition and note that. Work on reading your opposition, eliminating tilt, and building/using your table image. If the spark does not rekindle after this re-concentrated effort, take a long break from the game and see what happens. 30 hours per week plus 40 hours of work is a lot of taxation on your physical, emotional, and mental well being. Come back slow and enjoy the ride.
I'm in deep with my girlfriend. I spent Valentines night on a multi-table sit & go and a pot-limit Omaha cash game. Plus, I got pissed at her when she called me away to help in the kitchen. I was dealt pocket Kings while I was away and got timed out/folded. - posted at an online forum by Peter_Rob_Paul
Oh, you are indeed in pretty deep, my friend. We all need to remember that there are a few select dates on the calendar to invest with the spouse/significant other and leave the computer logged off. The anniversary, Christmas, her birthday, and old Cupid's Day all fall into that sacred category. You might need to add-on Mother's Day to that list if you happen to have some little poker players running around the house. Adding the misplaced anger toward your girlfriend for the missed pocket Kings is like tossing some gasoline on a tall flame. Your faux pas is a nice reminder lesson for all serious poker players out there. The last thing that we want to have happen is to have your loved ones feel as if they are competing with poker. When a significant other feels that it is them versus poker, the competition produces an innate resentment for the game. Poker evolves into an enemy for them. In this state, there are very little positive outcomes possible. Instead, we need to find a way to comfortably link the loved one with poker. Teaching them about the game is always a bonus, if possible. If they are not interesting in learning the game, have them at least be involved in your poker world. Keep your significant other involved by keeping them in the loop in your wins and losses. If they are not interested in these details, get them wrapped into it by involving them in decision making processing. "I'm up $750 at PokerStars, honey. Do you think I should roll it to up $1000 or cash out now?" A simple inquiry such as that will provide some buy-in and interest with your wife/girlfriend/significant other. In the short term, take a break from the game this weekend and make it up with a nice dinner with your girlfriend. Be sure that she understands that she does not need to be threatened by poker.
KEEP THOSE QUESTIONS COMING!! Carlisle14@hotmail.com