DaWarsaw on 10 years of professional poker - part II

The second part of my blog was supposed to start with the magic of the numbers 100-10-1. It all seemed so destined for me! Don't know what I am talking about? Well, the 10 there stands for 10 years of me being professional poker player. The 100 is for just finished 100th EPT in Barcelona. And the 1... The one is missing, as I was expecting to finish this tournament in 1st place and thus summarize my poker career. Instead, the numbers are 100-10-55. So instead of sending you a picture from some paradise island where I would celebrate winning over a million Euros, I get back to finish the blog on my ten years with poker.

In 2004, after six months in Krakow, I moved back to Warsaw, rented a nice apartment and started to play for a living. It was not easy in the beginning and I had some moments of doubts but I never gave up and never regretted my decision.

Since the beginning, I was a grinder, playing a lot of hours and a lot of tables. I never had any really big scores which would allow me to play less or try higher stakes. It was always about hard work and numbers.

dawarsaw_blog_sept14.jpgGrzegorz "DaWarsaw" Mikielewicz

But still, it was a great thing. Poker provided me with a nice standard of living, all just a couple years after finishing studies and when many of my friends were not able to find any decent work or were still living with their parents. Before getting to poker, I was on a plane literally one time. After that, probably couple hundred times, and visiting incredible places like Mauritius, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Not to mention seeing everything in Europe and spending vacation in my beloved Barcelona for like eight times already. I was able to fulfill my longtime dream to go to New York for a New Year's Eve and also visit the East and West Coast of USA. And, of course, Las Vegas. All many times.

Even if I would be able to accomplish the same without poker, it would definitely take me a lot longer than ten years. I can see how many problems my friends have with getting vacation time in their jobs. Also, my ability to work from almost anywhere in the world makes it easy to go some nice place and just stay there for a month or even a year. Try that in 9-to-5 job. So I am definitely happy with my work. But here we come to see what my biggest poker flaw is.

Many poker players ask me why I am still playing stakes like 50NL or 100NL after playing poker for ten years. I must be really mediocre player if I am not moving up! Well, there is some truth to that but it's not completely true.

First of all, poker is my job, and I treat it professionally. I will never go broke. I play on stakes that I can comfortably play and thus play my best game. I can overcome really big downswings with moving maybe one or two steps down, nothing drastic. And still, I will pay my not-so-small bills and still travel to nice places.

Secondly, many people think that poker is like video game. Get in it, then go forward, forward, forward until you lose and then start over. Well, if you want to do that, then sure, go ahead! But it has nothing to do with professional approach. Remember, this is my sole source of income!

dawarsaw_blog_sept14_2.jpgMikielewicz likes New York in December

However, I could of course take a different approach and just move up gradually and safely. Maybe get to 500NL or 1,000NL and just stay there. Would that not be much better than a huge grind on ten times smaller stakes? Sure! So, are you ready to read about my biggest poker leak?

I spend too much money. It's just simple like that. Whenever I get something extra above my comfortable level of bankroll, I already have many ideas how to spend that money. My recent half-world trip from Thailand to the Bahamas was a good example of that. One time, I travelled with my girlfriend to Alicante for four days to play an Estrellas event. I made it to day three and finished 12th for more than €3,000. But I felt bad for my girlfriend that I was not able to spend any time with her during our stay, so I decided we would stay in Spain for a few more days to make it up to her. So, we went to Madrid, stayed in nice hotel, and went shopping.

The other time after a big score I decided it was time to fulfill my childhood dream: go to the Big Apple for the New Year. Another time it was to spend a full month in Barcelona, the other to do the same in California. Then nine months in Thailand. New Years Eve in Miami on the way to PCA? Sure, let's do it two times!

All of the above is, I guess, way too much for a low stakes grinder. I could travel less, rent a cheaper apartment, buy less expensive gifts. But if I don't follow my dreams now when will I do it? I never regret any dollar I spend. Even when it means that I will have to grind it up hard for the next couple months. This way I can also can feel what poker gives me. It's never virtual money for me, it's always something I can use, something that gives me experiences that I will never forget.

So, will you ever see me at the higher stakes? I think I can move up one or two levels. I was working a lot on my game lately and am really happy with the results, so I may give it a shot. And then I will decide if it is for me or not. But one thing you can be sure of. When you are reading these words, I am already planning what to spend my money on next!

Grzegorz "DaWarsaw" Mikielewicz is a member of PokerStars Team Online.