Ah, the curse of all poker players is the same, variance. No matter how well you play, how well you prepare yourself, how well you focus on any given day, there simply are a number of things that are out of your control. Maybe that opponent who almost always pays off the big bet makes his annual tough laydown against your flopped set. Maybe your top hands keep coming when no one else has anything worth 2 cents. Perhaps you aren't playing on the right nights, if you are playing against 9 nits who won't raise preflop with AK or pocket 9s, chances are your profits will be significantly reduced.
It just so happens that August once again has come around, and I am feeling a little pressure to earn some money. Last summer Ian and I decided to jump back into playing organized hockey and we both had to tackle the expenses that went along with it. The only way I can conveniently make additional income is at the poker table. Despite the game at the local casino being very weak in the summer months, I was able to book a few solid wins and cover the cost of the registration fees and equipment I needed in order to play. This August, I am again in need of some profits, as I am looking to play hockey once again. I am also signed up to take a work-related course at the college, and I just signed Jasmine up for a series of horse riding lessons that have been long promised. On top of my regular month to month expenses, these things are adding up.
I am meticulous when it comes to budgeting, detailing all my income and expense items on a spreadsheet months in advance. The problem with such careful planning is that poker as an income is nothing short of wildly unpredictable. Occasionally, the budget can go from balanced to a significant deficit in just a few sessions. My results this year have been solid, but it only takes one or two bad outings for my confidence to drop. I am playing against many of the same opponents, but variance can really take it's toll. I need to remind myself that I am in this for the long run, and not to put added pressure on winning right now, this moment. Bad luck crops up whenever, there is absolutely nothing to be done. I'm planning on stepping back from the game a bit, doing a bit of studying and relaxing instead of beating my head against the wall. The game is simply not very good in the summer months when the opponents are generally all regulars, mostly tight with their money and luck is much more important then it usually is. In the meantime, I'll focus on keeping myself and my family happy, and letting the expenses sort themselves out. I win at poker, I don't doubt that, but in the heat of the moment I am full of second guessing. A quick look back over my results spreadsheet should be all the reassuring I need to drop the doubt and refocus for the next session. Work isn't always fun, but it sure is a lot easier when it is.