After a break, the view changes

It's been a while since you heard from me, especially on the actual tables. I've been going through some family stuff and didn't have the time to play at all. I'm not one to half-ass things, so I figured a complete break would be better to get stuff done and be there for my family. Last year I didn't play cause I burned myself out in 2013 getting SNE and starting way too late. I told myself I would never make that mistake again. Unfortunately I barely played again start of this year, but like I said, it was out of my hands.

Now that stuff has settled down and I'm starting to get back at it again, I noticed some interesting stuff that happened to me after my break last year as well. You can't expect something to be the way it was after such a long period of time. If you normally played 8 hour sessions, 5-6 days a week, you can't expect that to just happen again after a 2-month break. This is something you just have to accept. If you tell yourself you are going to start playing again and play like you did before, you just set yourself up for failure and even worse disappointment. Disappointment is very demotivating. You feel rusty, feel like everyone got better and you got worse. Maybe you lost your touch. All of these things just show how essential routine is and why the guys that play very consistently simply get better than other people.

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The mistake is to ignore it and try to pound out 8-hour sessions. The result is usually the same. You quit after 45 minutes, feeling tilted and annoyed. You convince yourself it's not the right moment to play again. You tell yourself you got worse. I made this mistake so many times. I would just open the same amount of tables and expect everything to still be there. If you do this you won't be able to play well for a long time. The trick is to set achievable goals. Goals that make sense. There is nothing wrong with planning a 45-60 minute session as your first session. You can do so much productive stuff around it. Read notes on regulars, evaluate the first short session, watch a training video or go over the hands you played with friends. This is all stuff that is not stressful. But don't make the mistake of telling yourself you're going to play a 50-hour week.

Goals should give you confidence. Once you have the confidence in your game back, you can start setting the bar higher to challenge yourself. Then it can actually be motivating again, even if you don't make a daily goal. It's just important not to jump straight back in after a long period of time away from the tables. I'm actually writing this blog to talk to myself because I made all of these mistakes today again.

FML. One day I'll learn.

Lex Veldhuis
@PokerStars in Team PokerStars Online