I'm still in the valley of the shadow of variance. The last dozen or so times I've made my plays in free roll events, my 80% or better hand has been outdrawn by weaker holdings. I'm talking about the kind of plays that can boost your stack to a suffcient level to normally get you near the money on an average day or finish deep on a good day. Usually, I wouldn't despair publicly, because this kind of stuff happens with a frequency that we have all become accustomed to. We know how the ol' free roll go. But the dozen or so instances I'm talking about occured within the span of this past weekend over a 30 hour period. It's like I picked up right where I left off 3 months ago. Sigh. It just goes to show ya, even when you play nothing but higher EV plays, you can still turn in a losing season. The reason I bring it up is because I watch a lot of younger players overcome the variance and stay afloat as a similar amount of time progresses. I have found out in my 38 years of playing poker that the longer you play, the more monsterous variance shifts can become. I am once again in a shift that has been beating the snot out of me for a good 18 months now.  Perhaps if I followed the lead of my good friend, Siberianex, and used my dual monitor system for playing 24 tables at a time instead of wasting it on silliness like work, I might see these swings disappear more rapidly. It has been my experience that the most drastic variance shifts have all occured after my 20th year at the tables. The one I'm in now started around July 2011 and lingers until now. I took a break for a few months in that period with the hope that the poker powers that be would forget the dreadful downswing that has vexed my best efforts for far too long. I'm not only referring to online play either. This has been killing me at the private games I frequent. The bank roll damage is what prompted my sabbatical from the game. I had a rally last winter and pumped up my roll with some sporatic victories, but it was short lived. The bottomless ski slope decline started again and wiped out my profit and took a larger percentage of my bank roll than I am comfortable with. So I went into survival mode and stopped the bleeding with abstinence. Picture with me, if you will, a heroin junkie just stopping and with the best intentions fights off the urge to take a shot. Thats how well this abstinence has been working for me. It's really not that bad but I think you get the idea. So, with that in mind, I decided to find a happy medium and while I'm working toward my goals in the IT field, take short breaks and play through the variance until the decline changes to a sweet incline and I can start the climb back to poker solvency. My first poker coach, my father, always told me, "Son, this too shall pass" and he was right, as I have learned through the years. With winter approaching, several of my friends from the tables have begun to reemerge as we are driven indoors by the weather. We are starting to associate again through our main common denominator, the poker table. I have made a few new friends also. That has always been the best part of playing this game. Without friends, life is a dull occurence. I, once again, have some hope for turning the past whining season into a winning season this year. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that with my friends encouragement, that I can rise above the sinking sensation of dwelling in the valleys of variance and find myself once again perched on the mountainside overlooking past defeats. It has been my pleasure to watch many of you go from beginner to winner with an enthusiasm and certainty that has been inspiring to me. As we regroup and get ready for the winter season this year, I can't help but feel revived and prepared for the new challenges that are awaiting us. Ol' Mud just might turn a profit this time. Heck even a blind hog'll find an acorn every now and then. I guess what I've been trying to say through all of the twists and turns of my beginning diatribe is that I have missed y'all something awful and I'm really glad to call y'all my friends. I want you all to know that I get my inspiration and guidance from you and without you I wouldn't have made the progress I have, personally and as a player. I wish all of my friends the best of luck and may the variance be with you as you continue your journey from table to table.