This follows on my post about poker in the early days.
I started watching the yellow chip ($5-10) games and began setting my sights on them. I was making $125 a day dealing and probably was squeaking out another $100 from the felt.
The moral decision still hung in the back of my head, but I made the move and continued to play. I began losing and eventually went broke more then once. I would borrow money, win and pay back, and then go broke again. It was a vicious cycle.
I remember one night in particular, sitting in my car in the parking lot of HPC, crying and wondering what I was going to do next. My emotions hidden by the dark night as I slumped against the steering wheel, I picked myself up but still struggled to balance work and stay in action. This went on for a year until I was promoted from dealer to running the daily tournaments.
Then in 1997 I had an epiphany, the notion that poker was not a game of me against everyone else, but rather a game of me against myself. My ability to develop and apply qualities such as discipline, patience, and the ability to read people and their actions not only brought better poker results, but helped develop character beyond the table.
As I learned the game and improved, I found that the game held me accountable for my new found knowledge, and that if I deviated from what I knew was right I was usually punished. My lack of patience, of waiting for the proper hands or situations, is a high cost for education; it’s a class in which I am continually enrolled.
I began to see the game come alive and become a microcosm for life. I now understood that the work was within and not looking out, and the chips were just a way of keeping score. With my moral dilemma resolved, I started playing more of the $20 tournaments and experienced some good results.
I liked the idea that everyone started on equal footing and that the champion would be decided by who played their cards best that day. I won my first weekly tournament that year and, in between work, extended my tournament travels to Lake Elsinore.
The tournaments were bigger ($200 buy-ins) and the structures offered the players more chips and longer rounds. One night, I finished second to Jun Prado and just like that I won over $10,000, had a bankroll, and felt ready to conquer the poker world.