I worked and played in Las Vegas for over 3 decades. I watched many players come and go, fail and succeed. The successful players are the ones I tried to watch. All the guys I knew that succeeded had something in common, they were degenerate, and often played crazy and had other players grumbling and calling them things like fish and donkey. Guys whom came to town with a bankroll, played tight and conservatively rarely succeeded, I knew two grinders that had good success, one was a middle limit Stud player that won the WSOP Stud event in I think ’98. The other Was a Omaha 8 or better grinder that never won the bracelet but always managed to place well in the PLO8 event.
The comonnality I noticed with players I knew that became famous and somewhat successful, is that the genrality had some chisma to their gam, that could be described as crazy gambling at the time. All of them where smart people, whom were able to adjust their bad habits into big bucks as a smart aggressive player that was to be feared.
It takes drive to become a great player, these are the guys that innovated, that wer eclectic and brilliant.and many of them I was genuinely surprised by when they made it. I Knew personally Ted Forrest, and Mike Matusow. niether of which I expected to become as successful as they did. Mike was the biggest surprise. He was a total degenerate. Would work eight hours dealing at Sam’s Town, then wander over to the Mirage to play 20/40 Limit until he had to goto sleep, was broke or had to goto work.I could not tell you if he was winning or not. But he was playing and improving. And was just considered a fing dealer whom cant play. The first time I saw mike at a black chip game, my assumption is that he was on a crime spree possibly robbing several convenience stores on the way in. that was not the case, he was doing well at the tables. Oh yes, the biggest hole in his game then as now, was that he talked to much, when he was able to start using that as an asset is when he stated to become a respected player.
Ted Forrest on the other hand was a grinder, playing middle limit Stud games 5/20 through 15/30. Who’s only goals at the time seemed to be keeping his wife housed in an apartment, and food on the table and playing to stay in action. I considered him an excellent player. A very old and seasoned dealer said to me how about that kid Ted, he is up there playing with the big boys now. Although Ted was grinder, he was not typical he could best be described as tight aggressive.he was just tough with a fearless quality to his play. And he was also quite smart. He is one of the few grinders that was able I have dealt to Ted as much as I have dealt to any player over time. I played with him a few times back in thr early days when the chips were still red(yellow if your in Cali). He is tough to beat. His greatest asset was that he can clock a game and the players, like few can. I lreaned more about razz playing one hand headup against him then I knew about thr game at the time.
Bryan I am just saying that most of the great players have stories much like yours, degenerate gambling personalties, and smarts that took them to the top. I think the basic skill for success in poker is a personality, that can focus on the game, the kind of guys, like Winston Churchill, who said in the face of great odds against the facts of reality at the time, “We shall never surrender”, and never did. Who took the empire to the greatest of vicotries, or the general at the battle of the bulge who sent thr one word reply of “Nuts” to the Germans when they suggested sourender to him and recently in the Ukraine “Idont need a ride, I need ammunition.”
These or the kind of personalties that eventually rise to the top at the poker table. Not the ”Wise” grinders
Bryan you will be alright, what you describe in your backstory is an asset not a liability. You may loose some heartbreaking battles, but you will eventually overcome and win the war. Keep swinging the hammer hard and eventually you eill be swinging once per nail or all your fingers will be broken. Buy bigger hammers pound bigger nails.
PS; just like you will have time to sleep when your dead you will have time for GA when your broke