My trip to Vegas started out in epic fashion. I studied everyday leading up to my trip, played five days a week and it was the 2017 Christmas season. It seemed the perfect time to play poker in Vegas. I stayed at my favorite hotel on the strip, Aria, enjoying the great games, juice bar, delicious restaurants like Lemon Grass and all of the friendly players looking to have a good time at the table. I played 5/10 NL and was up 12k on my trip.
I arrived four days earlier and while normally when in Vegas for poker trips its just me and my grind, this trip was a little different. My sister, an accomplished Phd, decided to come along and we were going to make it part work for me and part a girls trip for us.
It was Saturday night and Noelle had just arrived. I was grinding away seated at the same table as the gorgeous Kym Lim. We had never played against each other and I was running extremely hot. We kept finding ourselves tangled up in pots and I got the best of the board every time it seemed. After each hand she would take notes, I can only assume on my play and the hand. I don't run into many women like her playing these stakes. I was impressed with her hard work, beauty and cool demeanor.
We had been invited to Club XS by some friends who had a table. I had never been, as I usually have more fun playing poker than at a dark and loud club, but with my sis in town and my love of dancing, I decided it was time to live it up.
I was 5k up on the night so I headed to the room to put my money in the safe. Still in the poker mindset I couldn't help but think about how good the games would be after clubbing hours at the Wynn where XS is located. I made the last minute decision to keep 5k on me in case I wanted to do a late grind knowing I was not planning to drink.
We were escorted straight in and got our table with some great friends. We danced, we talked and we danced some more. I had been clutching my little white purse most of the night, but as the club began to empty I realized I had made a novice mistake. While chatting on the couch I set my little clutch next to me and when I looked up it was gone. We searched high and low, but it was nowhere to be found and I was freaking out. It not only had my 5k, but also my ID and phone. We went to the front and by some miracle the girl behind the counter produced my little purse with seemingly everything inside: my ID, my phone and my mon... nope... the money was gone and I (sigh) devastated.
This trip was a prime time for me to build my roll as the games are not always so profitable and that was so much money to me. How could I be so dumb, I thought. My sis and friends tried to comfort me and somehow amidst my devastation I had a mindset shift.
I knew this loss was big, but what could I really do about it now? If I allowed these negative feelings about myself and the person who stole from me to take hold, it could ruin my ability to enjoy and make money the rest of my trip.
You see, in poker, mindset is everything. So often if not strong mentally, it's not the initial mistake of losing a hand or a buy-in that ruins your profits, but how that mistake compounds over time. I could so easily go on tilt, try and win my money back by overplaying my cards, losing my cool, taking lines and making bluffs that are not profitable long-term.
In the moment I didn't recognize how the mental toughness I had been practicing was working to save me, but I do remember the thoughts I had before I was even in the cab ride back to Aria. It's possible the person who stole from me needed the money more than me, I thought. Maybe they can't pay rent or had a family member who was struggling with an illness. I recognize this could be unlikely, but it is possible.
Also, my dedication to studying the game and playing my "A" game had allowed me to profit to such a degree that I could handle this mistake. It put me in a position to be able to move forward. I still had plenty of money in my safe and a skill set that could re-coop this loss.
Once back at Aria, I walked passed the poker room and saw that it had turned to Christmas morning for a poker player. There were two tables of 5/10 with only a few pros. There were more deep stacked recreational players drinking and having fun with their entertainment dollars than I can remember. To this day, I think it was the softest 5/10 table I've played. The fact that I had not drank that night and had forgave myself and the taker of my purse left me ready to rally and grind.
I sat down and won back every dollar taken plus 3k. If this story seems to good to be true... can you imagine how it felt to me. When telling my sister later about my night I spoke about the fact that if my purse had not been taken I never would have played that late night game at Aria and never would have won the extra 3k.
We as poker players and as people make mistakes everyday. It is easy to beat ourselves up and break ourselves down with negative talk. But there is another direction we can take. When a mistake is made, we can acknowledge it, forgive ourselves, learn from it and capitalize on it. I'm curious to hear from you. How do you recover from mistakes? What rituals or processes do you use to reset your mind? Put your thoughts in the comments below.