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Walking the fine line and FALLING

Pechorin So, yeah, I'm on a bit of a downswing recently. As always, I dropped money at the Borgata, first by blowing $2k in a supersat, then by blowing $10k in the main event. The supersat was memorable because I had about an average stack with 75 left. 57 paid. A total donk (keep in mind, my total lack of self-confidence, which you'll certainly see evidenced in the rest of this epic-length post, causes me not to throw the "d-word" around lightly) opens and I shove KK. Barely having me covered, he calls with AJ and rivers the ace of spades (ALWAYS THE FUCKING ACE OF SPADES) to bust me. If I knew he was going to call with AJ, I probably should have folded there; obviously, I had no idea how deep his donkitude ran. It's tough to make calls that actually cost you 5k in equity when the most you can win in a tournament is 8k, but he did it and I was the victim. Oh well.

The main event was more frustrating, because I felt like I played pretty poorly throughout, and thus I feel like I can blame myself for my downfall. I ran super ridiculous silly bazilly hot Day 1, set-over-setting one person, then flopping a set vs. Jeff Madsen's AA in a huge pot, ending the day with a top 10 chip stack. I ended Day 2 with about the same stack; this was frustrating, because I really played kind of passively when people played back at me (and they did this with astounding frequency for a live event!). I busted Day 3 on what amounted to a coinflip, about 20 short of the money. But there were too many spots I missed where I could have picked up chips, and at least two spots where I could have saved tons of chips (I made two hero calls that turned out to be wrong; once with 4th pair against an aggro player and once with top set when every draw got there on the river and the oldest nittiest person ever bet 2/3 pot into me). Oh well. One of these days I'll run Jamie Gold good in a live event, right? Right!

Online, I also feel like I'm playing terribly. I'm also running kind of bad as well, but that's certainly no excuse for how much money I've been spewing. Basically, I've gone on a 15 buyin downswing at 5-10 on full tilt, and it's crushing my soul. I am now without a doubt the donkey in those games, and it feels awful. I can only imagine the regulars in those games laughing at me as I sit down and the game forms around me, 5 people waiting for me to spew off a stack and then reload and spew off some more. Or, in the case of heads-up games, one person doing that. I'm doing everything wrong. I'm playing like a passive bitch in and out of position; I'm not thinking at all when I act, just mashing buttons and hoping some chips go my way, living in total fear of pushing into a big hand, and then doing so anyway (or making a hero call against an obvious better hand). It's like I'm only making haphazard guesses at my opponents' hands. I'm easily trapped, effortlessly bluffed, endlessly fooled.

I used to think I was good at poker, I used to think I was a winner. But I am still a lifetime loser at 5-10. I suppose I should stop playing there until I learn how not to suck at poker again, or at least until I game-select there. Or, just accept that I am not going to be a winner in tough cash games without some serious learning, or fewer tables, or something. Or, most importantly, just take some time before I make each decision. No more auto checking/betting/raising/folding. Not only does that lead to timing tells, it causes me to make the WRONG decision with astounding frequency.

I know this may sound harsh, but it's hard to walk the fine line between being honest with oneself about one's mistakes in the game and full-blown self-loathing. Right now I've crossed into the latter category, and I'm kind of freaking out about it. The funny thing is, it's not even a whole lot of money compared to what I could lose by running bad in one session of 25-50, but I freak out nonetheless. What a bitch I am; I should, in fact, be thankful that I am making these mistakes at 5-10, where I am ridiculously overrolled, than at stakes where playing this atrociously would really hurt me.

It's a pretty nasty cycle. I lose money, tilt, lose more money, whine about it to people, then hate myself for whining, then stay on tilt and predictably, lose more money, etc. I should stop it. Deep down somewhere I know I am successful at poker, and can continue to be in the future. But right now, I'll just wallow in booze and self-pity. At least it'll prevent me from playing in this state of mind!

On a positive note, I luckboxed my way into a seat in the Aussie Millions in January, and I also got 2nd in the 100r, so maybe I'm doing something right in tournaments (read: occasionally I run good enough to overcome my own ineptitude). Those scores, along with sweet sweet Cake Poker 10-20, basically turned a losing month into a breakeven one. But I should really be sticking to winning months, or something.

OK, enough rambling and whining, I'm going to talk about some more "pros." I'll see you all fuckers in Aruba.

Humberto Brenes: I played with Humberto late in Day 2 of the WSOP ME. I heard Lon and Norm say that he "normally plays good cards." That's the understatement of the fucking century. He isn't just a nit, he's the nittiest nit that ever nitted. He may seem playful with his "chark" and yelling, but when he opens a pot it's AK-AJ, 88+ ALWAYS. I fail to understand how he gets giant stacks in these events. Are people that willing to pay him off? Oh wait, it's a live tournament, so the answer is "yes."

Nick Frangos: Actually, I can't really comment much on his game, seeing as he was pretty short-stacked when I sat to his left deep in some event. He seemed nice enough; he even bothered to talk to me in a later tournament when we both went deep. I include him because he reminds me of an incident that reminds me why I really fuckin' hate playing live. Nick and I had a seat right near the rail, so obviously a bunch of railbirds were right up near us. One of these railbirds, as is often the case in a casino, had monster body odor. Not just regular funk, but a cloud of noxious chemicals, an odor resembling rotting sun-baked garbage mixed with fresh vomit and not-so-fresh diapers engulfing our table. Nick, to his credit, politely asked the floor to move the rail away from the table. When this didn't really remedy the situation, I got the feeling that he was about to sit out in protest of this odor. Thankfully, the table broke. Anyway, shower next time you go to a casino, whoever is reading this.

OK I'm sick of writing this and it's becoming rambly anyway. Maybe my next entry will be shorter and less full of self-hate. But probably not.


Anonymous says

I know it sux to hear it but bankroll management helps me when I'm running crappy. Kick the crap out of lower stakes players for a little while and get your chi back. Good Luck


EdmondDantes says

God help me, I love a blog written in character! That's some fine self-loathing, sir...your namesake would be beaming with pride.

I'm gonna offer some advice from a guy who's lost enough money to roll anyone reading a hundred times over in the game of his choice. From what I can tell, most of the guys who write here are smart, aggressive players. Where many seem to come up short, though, is in managing the emotions of the game and pulling back when they're playing poorly or not making good decisions. The best players in poker and in life don't do that. It's that simple.

When Tiger's struggling with his driver off the tee, does he keep firing with it because he's an aggressive bad-ass? No, he pulls out an iron until he gets his rhythm back. Mickelson, on the other hand, keeps hitting driver and hoping for the best. The difference, of course, is 13 career majors versus 3, even with Tiger spotting Lefty 5 years in age.

At this year's US Open, Roger Federer ran through the field like Sherman through Georgia but struggled in the final. The guy he played, Novak Djokovic, is 3rd in the world but still WAY out of Roger's league. That said, Federer played like crap, making more errors in the first set than he averaged in any of his prior MATCHES. With a basket of set points against the best player ever in the sport's premier event, Djokovic yakked up error after error going for big shots while Fed just struggled to keep the ball in play. The result? Set for Federer. Second set, same thing...this time, though, when faced with set points, the world #1 found his rhythm...the equivalent of picking up great cards at an opportune moment. The result? Set for Federer. The final score was a straight set win for Roger (his 12th major at age 26), but he's played WAY better in other matches. This time, he just didn't lose.

Finally, in my business, Warren Buffet's the equivalent of both Tiger and Roger, albeit somewhat older and less photogenic. Buffet's Rule number 1 is Never lose money. Rule number 2...Never forget rule No. 1. Now, is "never losing money" realistic for a poker player, of course not. But if you know you're spewing, stop. Not donking off a stack is the exact financial equivalent of stacking some donk and we KNOW how good that feels. Sure, folding a nice hand to a guy you think might be moving on you is galling. But not NEARLY as nauseating as paying him off light.

The good news is, that most of our shortcomings as players can be fixed.

Need to be more patient? Take a yoga class regularly. Sounds stupid, but it'll help you maintain a calmness and poise under stress with the side benefit that women in yoga are, as a general rule, hot. At the very least, work out regularly. It'll help burn of the extra nervous energy that can lead to impatient or forced decision-making.

Not sure about your decision-making? Get coached. The best pro athletes get coached daily; there's obviously no shame in it. Having trouble with certain competition? Step down or take action to study and beat it. Golfers chart the course, tennis players chart opponents, football player watch film, baseball coaches study stats...hmm...there's a pattern here.

Finally, the money you win in an easier game is just as functional as that won in a tough game. It's not like your landlord or BMW Credit is going to say, "I'm sorry, sir, but this appears to be monies from the Cake 3/6 game. We'll need to see more blood on it before we can accept it." Look at USC, for god's sake. #1 ranked and they've yet to face an opponent that could beat a pick-up team fielded from 2+2 Full Ring. I say play the game you dominate, build bankroll and confidence, get coached to the next level and then repeat as necessary until filthy robusto.

Still digging,



Pechorin says

It's very true; I keep forgetting that I'm in poker to make money, and not to satisfy my ever-growing ego. Doing the latter seems pretty self-defeating. Why play FTP 5-10 when Cake 10-20 and 25-50 are out there, for more money and less effort?

Boy, I sure can be stupid sometimes! Thanks for the great advice!


tateissy says

On the one hand you are really getting down on yourself for playing so bad, but then you relate how you do manage to win now and then. This doesn't sound like a person who sucks as bad as you make it sound. The first step is accomplished... you are identifying your weaknesses. Now you need to act on the issues. Try adjusting. Make changes in your game where changes are needed. Perhaps you need to take a break. Do something, don't just keep making the same mistakes. The players in the FT games are expecting a certain kind of fishy play out of you. Surprise them!


Landlord79 says

I play and beat Bodog most everyday, but when I play on FT I usually get beat. Most of the time I'm claiming that either FT hates me or that I'm running bad, but the difference is that FT players are better and Bodog is a gambling site w/ a poker room. I have found a great edge in a niche market, I might need to jump over to try out Cake soon though. Get rid of all ego and play the games that you crush!

I'm having trouble w/ beating maniac games, so I play them as little as I can and I look for softer games. If you would like to give me some coaching in this area, I'd be much oblidged! To learn something is often tough, to teach something requires understanding indeed!


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