I had 2 moments when I suddenly made big leaps in skill. They were both essentially the same reason: I was desperately broke!!
I couldn't find a job back in 2007. I heard that I could win money and gift certificates at some local bars by winning or coming in 2nd in poker tournaments. At that point I had only played once, and actually won (luck, I'm sure). I went to the bar to play and got crushed. The very next day I bought about $10 in used poker books
. I was eating free 2-3 nights a week and winning small $25 buy in cash games pretty consistently within a few weeks.
I had a similar experience with online poker in Jan 2010. I was broke, jobless and going to college full time. I got a small amount of money as a gift and put $10 on Full Tilt in hopes of winning a couple hundred dollars to help pay for food in January. I kept hitting the $70 mark and almost going broke. When I dropped to $2 I decided I was not putting any more money in. Either I started winning consistently or I was done playing. I won a about $10 in free rolls, and moved to cash games. Next thing I knew I was seriously thinking about 3-tabling $50nl Rush for a living.
The worst thing that happened to my poker play? ... ... Black Friday! ... ... ...
2 weeks later every cash game I know about shuts down because the cops went crazy busting them. The bars even stopped having freerolls
I think I'm still on tilt.