Sunday, December 18, 2005


After a heavy week at Luton, I decided to take it easy on Monday and Tuesday in an attempt to recuperate. For me, playing tired always ends in tragedy. I lose money, I get narky, and I feel low. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one, so, for the sake of waiting a day or two, it’s not really worth logging on and hitting the tables. Come Wednesday I was back in the zone; fresh, reinvigorated and raring to go.

So what’s the biggest change in my game? That’s easy, and it’s made such a difference to my poker. Something so simple, but highly effective.

-- Knowing When To Play --

Before, I’d play whenever I felt like it. I could have been tired, mardy, whatever, but if I fancied a game, I’d play, whatever the potential consequences. These days I can’t really afford to do that. If I have an urge to play, but know deep down that my brain isn’t functioning as normal, then I have to resist.

This goes for tilting too. Every time I’m losing, I want to continue, even if that means playing badly. We’ve all been there. Devil Snoopy on one shoulder, angel Snoopy on the other. It’s hard to ignore the former, but if I’m going to be a success at this, then I have no choice. If I start tilting when I know I should be quitting, then I might as well give up now and head back to the 9 to 5.

It’s taken me a while to get the hang of, but I’m pretty sure I have developed the ability to stop playing when I’m vulnerable. Every time I lose a big hand, or I make a silly error, I ask myself the same question. ‘Should I quit? Should I quit? Should I quit?’ And if the answer’s yes, I’ll quickly close all my tables ASAP. If I dwell, then I risk changing my mind.

Yesterday, I decided to play a full session of ring games, about 6 hours in all. That’s quite a lot for me, as I tend to fatigue quite easily. Anyway, I just couldn’t get going. Every time I threatened to reach a profit, I’d take a hit. I had to keep speaking to myself, reminding myself that if I remain patient, then that big hand will arrive. Sometimes it’s hard though, especially if you set yourself a weekly target, or you’ve recently had a brief session which netted you a packet. But patience really is the key when it comes to online play, I’ve learnt that the hard way.

At one point during the session, I took a bad beat and dropped down to a $500 deficit. A few months ago, barring some extreme good fortune, this would have quickly turned into a $1000 plus loss, and all my good play from previous weeks would be tarnished by a day of madness. Yesterday, however, I just kept my cool and carried on playing my own game. I resisted the temptation to type a sarcastic comment in the chatbox, berate someone’s play, or argue with some idiot who won’t shut up. If I can refrain from doing that, then there’s no reason why I can’t prevent myself from titling.

In the end, I found myself $150 up. It isn’t much for a 6 hour session, but it was still a relief to recuperate such a deficit. I was proud of my patience and comforted by the knowledge that I was able to control my emotions, a skill that is excruciatingly tricky for any poker player to master.

I’m yet to have a losing day playing online, and I kind of fear that perhaps I won’t be able to control my emotions if things really do go belly up. It only takes those aces to be cracked a couple of times, for you to find yourself $800 down. So I guess my true test will be when a flurry of bad beats occur at once. Only then will I be able to truly say how strong my resistance to titling actually is. For the time being though, I’m confident that I’ll be able to jump that hurdle when I reach it.


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