Long breaks

Did you ever have to take a long break from playing poker, for any reason? How did it feel to come back? Did you play your a-game right away? Did you pick up things from where you left them?
Personally, after a two-year period away from the game I find it difficult to adjust. For me, it definitely isn’t like riding a bike.
I mean that some functions are already integrated and appear somehow like reflexes, p.e. my range is still the nitty one I had before, my betting size is standard as always.
On the other hand, my mental game is practically non-existent. I either play timidly or over-confidently. I know my hand’s strength, but I cannot range the opponent’s hand. I deal with bad beats like an absolute beginner. I have diminished patience, so I tend to get fancy or reckless.
I overplay decent hands a lot and I tend to think that opponents betting strongly are holding crap and only try to intimidate me and make me fold my good hand. As a result I make way too many hero calls.
All this does kind of work somehow for me in small stakes cash games, especially zoom type, where there are no reads and tells between opponents, so in theswe I am marginally profitable whenever I play them, but they are a disaster in tournaments.
Do you know the saying: “If after a while you haven’t spotted the sucker on the table, it’s probably you”?
Well, it’s true. I usually am.
p.e. I recently played a PLO tourney for my League and in the first half hour I became the chipleader. 1st/18/18 the table reminded me. After a couple of bad decisions (which I knew were bad the moment I made them, always thinking “as if…”), I avallanched to 12/12/18 and with my “tough-nut-chip’n’achair” attitude I managed to survive until 8/8/18. In earlier times I would at least have made it to top 3, if not taken the blasted thing down…
To sum things up, my game is not the same. Of course it didn’t improve, but it didn’t deteriorate that much either.
In hard facts, after a month and a half. my bankrolls are like that:
In one site I am break even.
In the other I lost some $50 playing tourneys and made $10 from free-rolls and $10 from fast poker, so I am $30 down.
In the third, where my balance was zeroed, I managed to put some cents via free-rolls.
In our beloved Replay I am up some 200K, thanks to free-rolls and daily gifts.
It seems that after all this time I can still play semi-decent poker, but I cannot play good poker. I mean as good as I used to. I was never a shark, but I wasn’t a losing player either. In fact I was winning a little.
Something needed to be done to square my head back.The solution I found to that is taking part in the poker community forums, to help me get re-acquainted with the poker way of thinking. Strategy is a cornerstone of playing, but the mental game is the steel supporting the building.
Have you ever had to take long breaks from the tables, for any reason? Work, health, family, studies or any other issues? How did that affect you? How did you feel when you returned to playing poker? Did you experience similar or other problems? How did you cope?

1 Like

@PsychoVas

My suggestion at this point is to review and remember what the probabilities of a winning hand are from Royal Flush down to a High Card for the different Streets.

I know it’s pretty basic but people forget what they are. You always have to be able to calculate your OUTS.

Starting poker recently has been a ride.
Nailing down the basics with range and betting size, but the mental game is wild!
Bad beats hit differently, and finding the balance between caution and confidence is so difficult.
Forum discussions are becoming my go-to for sharpening the game.
Any newcomers relate to these early challenges?

Playing poker is definitely not like riding a bike. You do get rusty during long (months to years) breaks (or at least I do) and one has to start from almost zero again.
So why there was a break to begin with? I guess poker just didn’t feel that important to me, and it still doesn’t. I have failed to create the passion and belief that poker might change my life.

Hi, PsychoVas.

I have played online since 2003 but after 2013 I no longer play for “serious” money. Just for fun and some extra pocket money.

Even if it’s only a hobby for me I have lost my passion many times and quit poker several times in the last 10 years.

But as the saying goes: you don’t quit poker - poker quits you.

So I have been away for up to two years but always come back for more.

Luckily for me, I now play mostly very low stakes compared to what I used to. So even if poker today especially online is much tougher than during the poker boom I can still win at low-level cash games (under 10NL) - and for MTTs, I try to stay with freerolls or Play Money. Can’t lose money if you don’t spend money.

Joining a forum like here on Replay Poker or for example, CardsChat is a great way to learn from the collective wisdom and diverse perspectives offered by fellow players. This can be invaluable in sharpening your skills and bolstering your mental fortitude.

But the most important thing is that you must have a passion for poker and think that it’s fun and entertaining.

Very hard to learn things or get better if you don’t enjoy what you are doing.

I have taken breaks from poker of various lengths of time. Sometimes for several months. Whenever I come back to it, I feel that my skills decline a bit, but come back fairly quickly. When I say “skills,” I mean just as a fairly decent recreational player. When I have been playing for the past few years, I feel like I am kind of playing on “auto-pilot” and often lose my patience. I also tend to gamble more since I have not been playing for much real money. However, in order to keep improving, I think you have to make a concerted effort to study the game and to play when you have the correct mindset to be focused. As playbetter said above, you need to have a passion for the game and truly enjoy learning and playing if you really want to get better. My passion for the game comes and goes. When I don’t feel it, I don’t play for real money.

Lately I play less , far less than I used to . But I haven’t stopped playing completely poker . But I can understand what you say . It’s up to you to try and find some good games to play or some ways to improve your gameplay . When game changes , things usually become harder . You have to find it by yourself , easy to say but hard to do it . I wish you good luck for your comeback

Try yo follow bankroll management , strictly at the poker rooms where you cannot win easily or where you have losses . Now we have less freerolls at CC , but still there are many freerolls at many sites ,vans some free sats to build a small bankroll . Hard to accomplish , but it can be done .

I recount difficulties in returning to poker after a two-year hiatus, noting a decline in my mental game. Challenges include hesitancy, overconfidence, and misreading opponents.
Despite maintaining some skills, like hand ranges and betting, results vary, with losses and neutral outcomes.
Engaging in poker forums to improve, my narrative offers insights into the struggles of resuming the game after a long break. Its hard but its a moving progress