Archive Feb 2009: nath

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First steps

I was in Lake Charles over the first few days this week, visiting family and taking the opportunity to hit the live games some more. I put in two sessions over the last three days totaling 16 hours and came out up $560 at 2/5 NL.

I've put in three decent sessions at the Isle of Capri recently, and I noticed toward the end that I was clearing up some of the spazzy mistakes I was making earlier, that I was getting back into my groove, thinking about the game properly.

Booking winners each time has been a pretty big boost of confidence. It's simple: I was worried that I didn't have what it takes to make it anymore, but these sessions have reinforced the idea that, yes, I can play poker well enough to make a good living at it. I haven't lost it at all; I'm just rusty and haven't given myself a chance to shake that off. Online, I tend to flip out when I'm not winning right away (especially at heads-up, because I want to beat every single person I come across), and that leads to panic which leads to bad play which leads to bad results which shakes my confidence and pressures me to win more immediately, which leads to panic, which leads to bad play...

But live, I have to stay patient because, well, you simply can't act like a spoiled child when you're out among other people. It's certainly true that I find it much easier to be patient playing live than online, but even so, I feel like my patience on the whole has greatly improved recently, and I'll be able to carry that over into the rest of my game.

I certainly made some mistakes in these sessions-- I'd even say I made really dumb, obvious ones-- but I also noticed that as my sessions went on, I became more comfortable and started to make better plays, plays based on my assessment of the current situation, and not my desire to win or fear of going broke or whatever is anything but making the best decision you can with the information you have now.

I was pretty clearly able to spot my opponents' mistakes, and just as importantly, I was patient enough to wait for the right situation to take advantage of them, rather than press into spots out of haste or spite.

I'm classically results oriented, sure-- three winning sessions in a row live? I'm the best! A losing streak online? I'll never make it again!-- but the fact is, I needed something to get me out of my panicked online mentality, and playing live forces me to stay patient and reintroduces a level of human interaction that the online game doesn't have. The live sessions bolstered my confidence a great deal, not simply because I made money (which certainly helps), but because I played well enough to feel like I can continue to make money. As soon as I can get the chunk of change I need for a proper bankroll back online, I'm going to start grinding cash. I'm aiming for 30,000 hands the next full month I play-- which doesn't sound like much to most grinders, but to me would be a massive step forward. I'm not lazy, per se, I just really enjoy doing nothing at all.

Headed back tomorrow for a couple more days.

Holding Pattern

I'm not going to make it to Los Angeles. I just couldn't work out the finances. It's unfortunate, but also understandable; I work in a field where "What have you done for me lately?" is a big motivator, and I've been staying far under the radar lately-- some of it on purpose, some of it due to the simple variance of tournaments, and some of it due to my work ethic.

I'm basically online busto right now so I'm waiting to get some more money in there before I can get back on the grind again. Meantime, I've mixed in a little live poker with good results. I played the $2/$5 when I visited Lake Charles and it was a nice reminder of some important things. First, all the reasons I like poker come out live. I like the people-watching, even when I'm not in the hand. With so much more to observe, and nothing to distract me, I take in much, much more information about the game and the players than I do in an online game. I still make mistakes, but I find it easier to be patient and wait for a real advantage to present itself. It also reassures me that I do still have what it takes to be a winner-- sure, I'm classically results-oriented, and overreact to individual sessions, but at the game I felt like the other players were making mistakes that were obvious and easy to exploit. When that's the case, it's just a matter of staying patient for the right spots, and having the courage to put your money in when you find it. If I'd had a little more of each, I probably would've made a few hundred more than I did, but all in all, a session in the black is a good sign and a strong motivator.

I'll report more after I play another live game. Once I get some money online, I'm going to give shorthanded grinding another shot. I just have to put in my time and stay patient.

Just

"You do it to yourself, and that's what really hurts.
You do it to yourself, just you, you and no one else."

-Radiohead


I busted out of my first match of FTOPS #9 ($535 HU) in embarrassing fashion. My opponent was a fairly straightforward and easy player, and I had ground him down when I slowplayed T8 on a K88 flop and got check-raised all-in on the river after runner A-A. I let this tilt me and started trying to win it back right away, which culminated in me 4-bet shoving Q5o into AK and losing. (My justification? I had just 3-bet him the previous hand, and he was mimicing me.)

My bratty need for instant gratification cost me an entire tournament, for probably the several hundredth time in my life. When I was a tourney grinder, I made it work because a)I was playing so many tournaments at once that I usually was getting instant gratification from somewhere, making me less likely to tilt, and b)I was playing a high enough volume that my winnings would cover my tilts.

Neither of these are the case anymore, and it's eating me alive. As usual, I'm my own worst enemy.

When I go back to cash grinding (it'll happen soon), I'm going to be more clear about setting time and hand goals as opposed to winning goals. If I want to play for an hour, I'll sit down and play for an hour, and get up when it's over. I won't try to chase losses. I'll play enough tables so that I'm focused on playing and not anything else.

Talk is cheap, as usual. This time, though, I'm running out of options beyond "develop the discipline".

FOLLOW-UP: I talked to my friend Jason / THEOSU after dusting off a big part of my stack in event 10, and he reminded me of the importance of loosening up and having fun. Poker's a game, not an ordeal. For one, I play much better that way. My play is more frequently criticized, because I show up with stupider hands in inexplicable situations, but you know what they say-- a player who listens to the rail soon finds himself among them. I've just been feeling so much pressure not to screw up, that I've been playing to look good instead of playing to win. Funny that the thing that, by any objective measure, I'm best at, is the one I have the least confidence in. I'm too results-oriented, but I also know that on a certain level, you're only as good as your last big score.

I need to find my confidence in my play again. If I had the faith in myself that so many of you do, and the discipline to apply my talent and skill properly to the game, I would crush it.

FTOPS and the LAPC

I've set the wheels in motion to sell action to some FTOPS events. I plan to play a dozen of the NL events starting this weekend. Shoot me a PM if you're interested in a piece and I'll provide you some of the details.

Similarly, I'm trying to make arrangements to head to Commerce for the L.A. Poker Classic. I haven't drawn up a definite schedule yet; I'm trying to gauge interest before doing so. Again, PM me if you want to buy a piece.

I've been taking off from playing the last week or so, because I needed the mental rest and my bankroll has been shredded lately. If I don't hit a score here that lets me rebuild, I'm gonna have to take more extreme measures to get back on track, but I'm pretty well prepared to do that.

More to come as interesting things happen. If I play both these series you can certainly expect more writing.

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