Sunday, January 13, 2013

Staying Out of the Way

I seem to be unable to learn this simple concept, so perhaps writing it down here will finally make it stick.  The value of a day off is only reaped for one to three days after it is taken, and the marginal value of taking N days off back to back decreases drastically as N increases.  That was a really nerdy way of saying that the best thing to do is to take exactly one day off basically every three (or at most four) days.  This week I played all five days and the result was pretty obvious.  I ended up going home early both Thursday and Friday, logging the type of clipped days I am aiming to avoid.  I did this because "I had taken a lot of time off recently" and felt that I should have been charged up to play a full week.  I was wrong, and I needed to take Wednesday or Thursday off.  It's that simple.  While the rage tilt I suffered yesterday probably wasn't that bad financially (although I did make that atrocious fold), emotionally it was pretty devastating.  I just can't end up feeling like that.  Last year I told my horse that the most important part of being a full time professional was keeping yourself "ready for action" at all times.  Basically if you ever arrive at the casino compromised in any way, be it from lack of sleep or an illness or stress from some other facet of your life or even the beginning stages of burnout, the effect on your bottom line will likely snowball out of control.  Every little thing that goes wrong will bother you more, and every effort you make to recover will not work as well as it usually does, and pretty soon you'll be playing pretty fucking far off your A game.  And that's not the only positive feedback loop you'll encounter.  If you fall into a pattern of not being ready for action, your results will suffer, too.  And when your results suffer you'll incur more emotional and mental pain, and you'll feel pressured to play even more to "catch up" to where you "should be".  And obviously those things will serve simply to keep you compromised, and pretty soon you'll have spent 6 weeks on raging tilt and won .3 bets per hour over 300 hours and be wondering what the fuck went wrong.  I'll tell you what went wrong;  you didn't take care of your shit, of yourself.  You got in your own fucking way, that's what you did.  Doing this is hard enough with all the other people trying to stand in your way, with your opponents more and more actually trying to hold onto their dollars and at the same time becoming seemingly bigger and bigger douche bags, with your responsibilities to others and the compromises you have made with them to keep your life bordering on something that could be considered normal, and with the day to day struggle of simply getting yourself into good games time and again.

So that's what I did this week, I got in my own way.  But at least I have realized it and can do my best not to let it happen again.  It always will.  But hopefully less often, and less severely, and eventually maybe hopefully not at all.  Because it never has to be that way, not ever really.  If you just show up at the casino ready for action, at or very near your very best, things tend to go well.  Little things tend not to bother you.  You don't make little mistakes, which in turn then don't bother you more.  You don't feel that stress, that tightenging, in your back and head and stomach, and if you do you can usually take just a little break and manage to get it under control.  If the game is bonkers good you can stay for a few extra hours without hurting yourself too badly.  Or, and this is important, you can remain self-aware enough to realize doing so would hurt you too badly and you can simply...stand...up.  I heard this somewhere (Tommy Angelo probably) and it's absolutely true.  Anybody can walk away;  the hard part is standing up.  It's so true it hurts, and the core of the matter is simple (and this is definitely from Tommy).  Not only do you have to show up at your very best, but you need to be at (or close to) your very best the whole way through your session.  Because the hardest daily decision you have to make is when to quit, and if you get past a certain point of pain or damage to your decision making machinery you'll fuck that one up, too, and then you'll just be feeding all those bad positive feedback loops I talked about in the first rambling paragraph.  So that's about that.

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