I am officially out of my downswing, in terms of bets.  Still a little ways to go $-wise, but I have full confidence that I will get there very soon.  I have been running really well, granted, but I also feel like I’ve been playing great and making a lot of really good reads.

I was talking with my friend recently about how I seem to go through motivation and focus-level phases. These phases are usually on the order of 1-3 months in length. Basically, when I am running well and playing well I get great results, as expected. If I persist in this phase long enough (for weeks or months even) I tend to become complacent and less focused at the tables. I think I can attribute this to two somewhat subconscious thought processes:

1) The money has been coming in at a greater rate than my current cost of living requires.
2) I don’t need to focus really hard because, “look how easy the games are to beat!”

While #1 may be true, this is obviously not the correct way to think about poker income. If my longterm average winrate is 1BB/100, and for the last 3 months I’ve been at 2BB/100, you can bet I am on much luckier-than-average streak. It is extremely flawed thinking to forecast future income based on the past short-term results.

As for #2, I don’t ever consciously THINK the games are easy to beat, but it is really difficult not to FEEL like it’s easy when you are on an extended hot streak.

Both of these factors act to wear down my motivation to play at a high-level for any extended period of time. My motivation and focus level continue to diminish until a fire is lit under my ass due to inevitable poor results. “You had better start playing really well and really soon, or else!”

I am going to challenge myself going forward to play highly focused whether I have been getting crushed or have been crushing the tables. I think what it boils down to is professionalism. In a normal professional job setting there is always someone there to light a fire under your ass the second you start slacking – your boss. As a poker pro, there isn’t someone standing over my shoulder saying, “Hey turn off facebook dumbass you just called down a guy that never ever bluffs, ever”. Focus level can slowly decrease over the weeks, and it can take a long time for results to reflect this. As motivation and to keep the fire lit, I am going to make the downswing graph my desktop background.