22 November 2005

Final Straw

Final torture now complete for now. I'll bore you with a few others (this is an official vent, so give me some room):
  • First hand dealt in NLHE400, I raise with AJs and one caller, flop of AJ2 (22 took that)
  • Raised with KK after rebuying (second hand I had cards), flop came Q98 (Q9 took me down; to add insult to injury, an 8 on the turn put me ahead only to get whacked by a 9 on the river)
  • Move to $15/30: top pair with board paired taken by a deuce on the river to give the guy a boat with his 22 that he stayed with to the end
  • Raised UTG with AJ has the bb call with J5o, flop of J58; I call maniac with ATo from bb, flop T96 rainbow I check raise only to have the lovely frightening 4h which he check raises me with his 44
This is normal variance and fluctuation, to be sure. Doesn't make it any more comforting to live through for sure, but there you go. For those keeping track, bankroll is now -$900, so I'll have to eat into cash or my cash bankroll. I do want to explore this and not shy away from the last 24 hours. I respect Wes et al regarding bankroll management. I agree, but I want to drill down a bit more on it.
  • Braking System The inability for a sliding poker player or gambler to stop the slide is a very common cause of going broke. There is a need to put structure and discipline into play, and having an established braking system is something that should be absolutely mandatory. Whether it is losing two buy-in's, having x number of losing sessions, it is important in preventing significant losses
  • Stakes Common thoughts on bankroll are to have 200-300x the big bet of the game you are taking on. If you are a solid player (2bb/100 hands or more), then it will allow you to handle the volatility of the game. That volatility of normal variance gets compounded during losing runs by a few other magical factors: a false appearance of your hand probability not holding up to poor decision making by evildoers, zigging when you should have zagged (meaning folding the small pocket pair UTG or two the 3-bet only to flop a monster), draws that don't seem to hit, drawing hands that backdoor alternatively improve (trips or two pair when chasing your flush). These things happen. When it happens at an approachable limit (say, $5/10 online for me), then a bad run is disappointing. When I jump up, then it evaporates the bankroll. All of the above is normal poker, as well as the stuff below from last night. People love Gus Hansen, they play crap to either catch something and get you off of big cards or to hopefully catch a monster. Either makes you a great player, so you have to live with that mentality.
  • Motivation Many poker bloggers aspire or actually play for a living. I don't have such aspirations. I enjoy the competition, love that this is something that I can do that is for me. I can theoretically improve, compete with people wherever I go, potentially become good at this. With three young boys and a full plate of running a business, trying to attract clients while trying to find an executive job that can keep us from moving, the hobbies or things for me are scarce. Golf is something that I enjoy, but it takes forever which is a challenge on the home front. My financial aspirations are to build a bankroll that gives me the freedom to play more, that allows me to play some tourneys even. Financials are also a metric of performance and results, regardless of what Raymer may say ("...make the best decisions and can live with the outcome..."). Crashing and burning, though, turns this into an expensive hobby, especially with bad behavior (e.g., stakes, etc.).
  • Stress Poker has been a stress release for me rather than a stressful thing for me. Hitting these losing streaks is frustrating; the bigger challenge is that it compels me to take a break so that I have some fiscal discipline to this. So, busting out prevents me from playing online, which eliminates one of the few ways I have of dealing with stress.
  • Competence I really like reading some of the self-analytical blogs that get into summaries regarding being weak at certain games or certain types of games (MTT for example). I need to search out the leaks in my game more diligently, because they are there. I don't think they are huge. For example, most of the time you have to lay down AK or AQ if you don't improve after the flop or turn. Regardless of seeing the guy win with AJo and nothing else, you'll lose online a heck of a lot more faking or chasing with overcards then you will win (at least that's my belief). I don't believe in chasing underpairs after the flop, throw them away depending on the circumstances pre-flop, etc.
I would interested in perspective on all of this as I'm probably a bit close to it right now. A bit wordy, but I wanted to get it out in the blog rather than either discount Wes/et al, avoid by lying to you, or to simply disappear for the holidays. Again, thanks for giving me a vehicle to get all of this out there. I really appreciate folks stopping by and hope somewhere in all of this it is interesting, entertaining, or helpful.


Blogger WillWonka said...

Yes, we must be twins.. at least poker wise.. no doubt a rough stretch for both of us..

I'm not sure what the right answers are as I am searching for them as well.

4:10 PM  
Blogger surflexus said...

Hello CC, I came across your blog tonight and enjoyed the read. I'll link you up on my blog... surflexus

11:57 PM  
Blogger ScurvyDog said...

Ignore any and all of this, as it sort of goes down that road of pop psychology about a situation that the pop psychologizer really doesn't know well enough to be popping off about, but...

You knew you were playing above your bankroll, and knew the risks involved. You also were playing for stakes that, while not financially catastrophic if you lost it all, were large enough to cause some significant mental distress if things went badly. Since you enjoy poker and see it as much needed stress relief, the potential distress is magnified, as you have more than simply money on the line, playing at stakes above your bankroll.

Which brings us to the million dollar question: if all that's true, why were you playing at limits above your bankroll?

And the easy answer is "Der, to make more money." But I'm not sure that's the best answer.

I've played above my bankroll in pretty calculated attempts to take a shot, knowing the risks, knowing what I was willing to lose. That's a pretty cut and dried case of looking at the risk/reward ratio and acting upon it. So if that's the case, then ignore all my babbling. You took a shot. It didn't work. Rebuild the bankroll and reload.

I've also, though, played above my bankroll in different, more dangerous circumstances. Mike Caro talks about a "threshold of misery" phenomenon, where you basically lose enough that you become numb to the whole experience, and keep chasing losses, almost robot-like, until you don't have any more chips, at all.

Where that's bitten me in the ass isn't so much when I go on a huge losing streak at the tables and become numb to the losses, but more when I've been unhappy with life itself, to varying degrees. It's completely ass-backward, but at times I've found myself playing in situations where I subconsciously/unconsciously wanted to lose, to "prove" that the universe is indeed against me.

In a few cases I've told myself I'm taking a shot, I know the risks, it's calculated, blah blah blah, but what's really going on internally in my noggin' is more along the lines of "Man, things suck for me right now. I'm just the sort of person that, despite the fact that I'm damn good at cards, will get smacked around by variance and lose my entire bankroll, at the worst possible time, while other lucky monkeys suck out against me, time and time again." The validation gained from "proving" that I was right, that the universe hated me, was almost worth the price of the losses incurred.

Not saying that's the case for you, as, truly, I'm in no position to say that. Mainly I'm just babbling and attempting to point out a trait I've noticed in myself in the past, as far as letting tendencies that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, are destructive get the better of me.

If you play to do anything other than win, odds are that you'll lose. And you lose sometimes even when you play to win. But if you keep putting yourself in position to win, with every factor working in your favor, you'll inevitably win.

Sorry for the long-winded pseudo-psycho babble. Best of luck in turning things around and riding out the nasty short-term waves,

10:19 AM  
Blogger cc said...

I think scurvysog's comments may be close to the logic (or lack thereof) of playing at the limits I've played:

Where that's bitten me in the ass isn't so much when I go on a huge losing streak at the tables and become numb to the losses, but more when I've been unhappy with life itself, to varying degrees. It's completely ass-backward, but at times I've found myself playing in situations where I subconsciously/unconsciously wanted to lose, to "prove" that the universe is indeed against me.

The times I've moved up have not been at any calculated "taking a shot" but when I'm in a funk and/or downward run. I think some of it also is about playing at a level where the ups and down are emotionally significant. I know certainly that this is the case in cash games: I can't fathom sitting at $4/8 again unless it was with someone, and $15/30 gives me the "rush" (although not so much the last few times). Thanks, scurvy, wes, and will for comments. I'll explore more later.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Never-Limp said...

I just strated reading and I look forward to following your progress. Here are my initial thoughts about your situation:

It sounds to me that you are looking for a "high" or an "escape" rather than stess relief. Some people would consider them the same but I don't. Stress relief is basking in the sun all day on the beach with a cold drink in hand. If you are indeed looking for that "high" it could cause you to chase/gamble too much. GL.

3:36 PM  

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