So, I burned my $18 bankroll (after withdrawing most) and deposited $250. It just eclipsed $1,250, at the beginning of the weekend, after a dozen consecutive winning sessions. I closed the last table Thursday with $1,253.
Then, (as if) on cue, I started giving it back. I felt like I was playing the same, I felt like I was making good or decent table selection, and doing all the right things. But it was lose or break-even, and it wasn't like I was getting the short end of the stick all the time. Yet obviously, something was different. I knew better than to blame it all on "bad luck" vs. "good luck".
This is what a story will look like when you first see it. Vague, indefinable around the edges. Hard to wrap your brain around or even your arms around. This is the moment of truth. Real-live red pill/blue pill stuff. You have 2 choices:
1. Explain the story. Justify the story, come up with reasons why it's not you, not your story. Make sure the case for acting out this story is airtight, in case this comes up again next time.
2. Go into the story. Identify it, become aware of it, drop it. Never think about it ever again.
They will be anything but obvious, especially as you are first learning to spot them. Let me finish the example of mine, so that you can see the resolution, the transformation.
As I see myself "giving it back", hovering between $1,250 and $1,000, I do start to see some patterns emerging.
Bigger cash tables:
Dismissed because the players aren't any better. Often, more ATM-ey.
More aggressive play:
An expectation to win all the time. "Why haven't I already won all the money?"
Related, I think back, and I can even remember times when I was trying to quit for the night, and I was, for instance, up $399. I set a goal of $400 and I'm out. And yet, almost invariably, I lost. Often, a lot. So, what is the story of me continuing to win?
I know it now. Do you? If not, it's not surprising. Often it will only be apparent to the owner of the story. Only they have the context to jump to the end. (Ironically, if you learn to do this in a group, you find often everyone in the room knows the story EXCEPT the owner.) This story, for me, it can be summed up in two words:
I am a pure gamer, I've been playing games my entire life. I found a Commodore Pet at age 4 and never looked back. And when I win a game, specifically winning over and over, it means no more getting to play.
Game night: I win, time for bed.
I win the same game 5 consecutive: Nobody wants to play with me.
I beat my younger brother all the time. He never wants to play with me.
This formed the pattern of me learning to play games. Play them well, but play them so well I can control the outcome. So I CAN LOSE ON PURPOSE ENOUGH FOR PEOPLE TO KEEP PLAYING WITH ME. So I CAN KEEP PLAYING FUN GAMES.
It fits across the board. When I got my first $10 ever online (free), I turned it into $1,000. In a week. Then, I lost it all, until I had but $44 left. I then won 2 $44 SNG's and back to $350.
If I lose at low bankroll, it means I don't get to play anymore. So that's why I always have managed to rescue fallen bankrolls. But, look at the larger, more sinister, less obvious half of this story:
I lost on purpose when I won a lot, in the past. I was following a pattern, set for maximum enjoyment, as measured by approval of other players and more importantly, ability to play more. And more and more and more. Anything to play more.
This is why stories, once identified, require no effort at all to transform into awareness. Once I see the silliness that was my old pattern, I stop acting it out. Applying effort is universally a mistake. If you are making an effort to drop a story, you're masking it, hiding it, justifying it. Own it and it's gone forever.
I see that whatever the reason, however subtly I do it, I sabotage winning too much. This time when I defined a level of "too much", I even hit it on the nose. So, I've ignored whatever compulsions I feel or don't feel, to lose at poker because my bankroll is so large. I commit to its health, I will not sabotage it for a stupid story that is already dropped.
This time it is different.
So, what was the specific story? Well, the specifics aren't important, they're simply the ways in which I was acting it out. They will all show up in time, as old habits that I now ignore (i.e. raising more vs aggressive players). Sometimes the story has a simple answer, sometimes you never identify it directly. There is no need, you know this once it's gone.