I knew it was coming and it came in a big way, to the tune of about 750 Big Bets and 50K. In terms of money it could of been much, much worse so I've been very fortunate in that respect. I've run pretty well at high limits all year, hopefully that keeps up.
I've now had the two biggest losing streaks of my ten year poker career in the last nine months. As much as I'd like to attribute it to variance, I think it has more to do with a number of factors related to the toughness of the games. I can't get into too many details but suffice to say the regulars are doing many of the intangible, away from the table, things a lot better than they were a year ago. Also the general skill level of play continues to improve, albeit slowly.
Another big factor playing into these downswings is internet. I would estimate it's cost me in excess of fifteen thousand this year alone. My laptop died last week (powered off in the middle of an 1800 pot with three other tables going). I bought a new one the next morning but it only has two USB ports. The backup internet stick I have is pretty big and clunky and when plugged into one of the USB ports, nothing else can be plugged in. So long story short, I had to keep that unplugged while playing for my wireless mouse and keyboard to work. The internet disconnected around fifteen times in three days and I wasn't able to get the stick in and connect in time. I've since fixed the problem with a USB splitter but not before paying a big price.
Also the internet runs very slowly from time to time and that's been the case just about everywhere I've been the last two years. That impacts my ability to get the best seats and sometimes just get to the table period. Tables can fill in a matter of three seconds now so one hiccup can be the difference between getting in a game where my expected earn might be $500/HR and not getting in the game at all.
I haven't felt particularly motivated lately and my level of play has definitely dropped during this downswing. I can't count the number of times I've made a play and seconds later realized it was the wrong play. Part of the problem I'm having is that I haven't earned a whole lot of VPPs this year. I'm at about 155K which I believe is a week or two off the pace I'd need just to make SNE by Jan 1st. In reality, I need to make it by the end of September which means I have a ton of hands to get in between now and then. If I want to give maximum focus at the tables, it cuts the number of VPPs I can earn in an hour almost in half which essentially doubles the amount of hours I need to play. I'm already playing eight hours a day and there's no way I want to be playing sixteen. So I'm left with the option of not putting as much thought into my play and playing faster to earn more VPPs. The end result will be a more mistakes but ultimately more money in the form of bonuses in less time. At this point, I'm trying to strike a balance between playing fast at lower limits and slowing down and playing with more thought at higher limits.
I've got about ten more days in Playa Del Carmen and then it's off to Cancun for two weeks and then back to the US for Easter. I'm making my annual trip to Vegas with my best friends in mid-April and then it'll be off to play poker again likely until October. We haven't decided exactly where the next poker destination will be but it's looking like somewhere in the Caribbean. If anyone has suggestions for a good island to stay at, please post in the comments. We're basically looking for something with reliable infrastructure, i.e internet, affordable beachfront apartments (4-5K month or less), friendly people, and safety.
Good luck at the tables.