For a short time I had, what I believed to be, realistic results in online tournaments. I cashed around 15% - 20% of the time, which is usually good enough to break-even. However, in order to be profitable, you've gotta make a score near the top 3 every once in a while. I did so-so in that regard. I never really put in enough effort to excel but I fell somewhere in the middle, perhaps just north of break-even. When I finally decided to implement the tracking software, my results showed the expected improvement. All except for one site... Full Tilt Poker. I simply could not win there. It seemed that I was getting cold-decked or taking the longest odd beats imaginable with alarming frequency. Naysayers would tell me that it just seems that way because one gets to play so many more hands online. I would argue that I am a rational being and capable of extrapolating the expected results based on volume. Furthermore, I now had data that showed my results from Poker Stars were inversely proportional to those on Full Tilt. I didn't want to go so far as to publicly cry "Rigged!", as it would make me look like a paranoid schizo, but I certainly had my suspicions and definitely voiced those privately to my friends. The final straw for me was when money simply disappeared from my Full Tilt account. There was no record of my playing any hands or making any withdrawals between a time period when exactly $500 went missing from my account. I contacted customer support and went days before my email was even acknowledged. Even, then weeks went by with no comment or resolution. Their lack of action was unacceptable. I finally had enough and sent this email to them in February of 2010. I never played on Full Tilt again. Of course it was discovered years later that I was correct and that they were indeed a "gang of fucking thieves".
I continued to play on PokerStars and at the weekly home games I hosted. I was able to supplement my income this way... which was a necessity in order to keep my head above water in San Diego. With an annual income that would enviable in most parts of the country... I barely broke even. So, when faced with decisions about my future career path I decided to change locations to a place where my dollar went a lot further. It's no huge surprise that poker eventually took me to Las Vegas. I auditioned for and accepted jobs as a poker dealer at the Mirage and the World Series of Poker. It would be my first new city in nearly 15 years. Leaving the veritable perfection of San Diego for the Nevada desert was not an easy thing to do... but it made the most sense. As was the case in San Diego, I planned to supplement my income by playing. Only a few days after I had moved in to my apartment and gotten unpacked, I began playing online in earnest. Using the tracking software and Heads-Up displays I was able to start grinding out profit immediately. Until one day when I went out for lunch and returned to find the following message on my screen.
That first summer was grueling. I feel like it took a toll on my body. Before that summer I didn't have a gray hair. By the end, my temples and beard were scattered with white. It didn't help that I was dealing with a serious spinal condition. After the WSOP ended, I went back to my job at the Mirage, where I would work scattered shifts with no discernable path towards full-time status. But, the gig at the Mirage turned out to be my stepping stone towards a far better one at Aria. I started in January 2012. I was hired as a dealer, but by March I was a Floor Supervisor and Tournament Director. It was there that I met a ton of great people that have become my core network of friends. Once again, poker brought me together with people that have made my life better.
Next time, more on how poker has helped me to better understand myself and others... and the improvements I've made a result.