Sunday, October 12, 2003

Back to being a Poker Blog

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's not how you win at poker, it's how you lose.

As Steve Badger says:

The problem is: you just can't will yourself to win -- be it a tournament, a single day's play, or even an individual hand. And then, unfortunately for some, not winning is something many players simply can't handle. And being able to not win well is a fundamental, key ingredient of being a winning player.

I'm not even sure this is something that can be taught, it has to come from within - (here he goes with Zen and the Art of Poker) - but I've just seen too many players come and go after losing and not being able to dig out of it mentally and/or emotionally. It's too easy for the downward spiral to kick in.

I think a particular strength of mine has been my persistence in using losing as opportunities for learning. I rarely have many epiphanies while the deck is hitting me in the face but I am very diligent about analyzing my play while losing.

Blame the river if you want - it won't help your game. Laugh, learn and move on is my motto.

Whenever I get hit with bad runs or a big session loss, I typically blame my poor play first. This is my natural tendency after indoctrinating myself in Sklansky and the ilk - they ingrained in me the knowledge that a good player can suffer large losses - in fact, they are unavoidable. How you handle them is the key.

I try to win more and lose less by constantly staying on top of my game. Making sure my starting hand standards aren't slipping, making sure I'm not chasing without proper pot odds, making sure my play is "correct" and not session dependant. Not letting bad beats affect me one iota. This criteria and much more (drinking) helps me keep a healthy attitude about losing.

PokerTracker has been very helpful. I wouldn't play without it, quite frankly.

This is probably very basic to any of you card players out there. Of course, it's smart to examine your play. But it's crucial when you've been losing.

Many years ago, I learned about (and am still learning, to some respect) about how you can start playing sloppy while losing. And I vowed to never let it happen again. It may be difficult for players to appreciate this without experiencing it for themselves.

I could truly care less about individual sessions. My need is to focus not on short-term results, but on the quality of my play. I let the results take care of themselves. And it works.

Tilting. Steaming. Threshold of misery. These terms I knew as a neophyte are now the stepping stones of a solid grinder. I never could have beat the games consistently without beating those demons first.

I think back on how difficult the $50 PL games were on Pokerstars back in the day. Playing all those damn Europeans at their own game. And how I beat it month after month after month.

And then came Party Poker. Oh the humanity.

This post probably sounds cocky or even worse, condescending. I truly don't mean it to be, it's just a poker blog. But I'd hate to think I'm offending the one of two people reading this.

My point in starting this screed was - be smart and analyze your play. Considering is good. The answer to every poker question is, "It depends." That's all.

Poker is hard. Even while/if winning.

./end rant

Finished the 2003 WSOP tape tonite. Freaking Chris Moneymaker blew me away with his play. Knocked out Chan, Ivy, that giant fat guy, Harrington and Farha. Screw all the naysayers, the guy can play no-limit. His bluff on Farha was poetry in motion.

Despite all this talk of losing, I had another good day at Party/Empire. I'm up $200 since last weekend and playing pretty well. I may even be playing too tight, if there is such a thing.

Dinner: Pork roast, a center loin cut (one of my favorite pork cuts with the bone in) - did a honey mustard glaze with a pepper crust. Garlic mashed potatoes with sharp white cheddar cheese (wanted to add the Havarti but the wife would have killed me), steamed carrots, croissant rolls and BAM! that's a Sunday dinner. Have I mentioned in here that I love to cook?

Link of the day.
Ever wonder how much booze you've drank in your lifetime?
For the love of God, I ranked as an Ozzy Osbourne.

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