17 May 2006

What to Do

Another losing day yesterday, down $639. Getting to $639 was a wild ride:
  • NLHE $0.25/0.50: -$75.60, 31 hands (88 cracked by A4o, KK by 98o)
  • 10/20 #1: +$29.33, 123 hands (overplayed alot of bad hands, looks like probably six or seven major mistakes)
  • 10/20#2: -$627.03, 187 hands (TPTK AJ vs. 99 rivered set, turned flush, flopped top pair, and flopped 4 vs. AK had me up, A7s flopped flush draw and turned open ended but didn't get there, AK flopped K vs. AA, KQ flopped Q vs. AK; then a brutal run losing big pots with AQ vs. JJ, JJ vs. QT turned straight, A7 taking down AK with 77 on flop, QQ vs. J4s, KJ vs. A8 flopping J then turning trips, flopped two pair with A3 vs 5 clubs on board (55 won), 55 vs. KK, QQ vs. Kd5d (turned bottom straight to the 5)
  • 5/10 #1, 2, 3: I three-tabled last night trying to mix things up and see if I could shake this. The results: -$298.50 (88 hands), -$70 (111 hands), -$54 (65 hands). Highlights included flopped set under set with four way action.
  • 15/30: +$492, 87 hands: It was late, but I just felt like I had to make a stand somewhere. I'd lost almost $3k in a week, 1/3 of my bankroll. It looked like a bad decision when my QQ was taken out by Kd5d, but I picked up a pot with AQ vs. 88, lost a brutal pot with QT vs. KT on a board of 7J9TT that I bet to the river, cracked aces flopping a set of 7's, cracked a flopped A with a set of 3's, then won a monster pot with AA holding up on a small rag board
This has been another interesting time playing, and I'd like to share some of the thoughts that I've had during this bad run. First, I've had very negative thoughts during play, almost feeling destined to lose. This is self-pity combined with a feeling that is reinforced through bad outcomes. Physically, I've felt the uncomfortable anxiety-type feeling in my forehead, the skin of my abdomen, in the inside of my forearms and shoulders. Anxiety is too strong a word, it's really more of an uncomfortableness, anxiousness. As I've reviewed these negative sessions, I find I have loosened up playing way too many marginal hands to try and get something to connect. While the logic makes some sense, it is a detrimental leak in a couple of ways. First, it might get rewarded, which will then reinforce continuing to play marginal hands. Second, it may lose big pots where I have a bad kicker or get counterfeited. Lastly, it may not work and will bleed 2-4 bets here and there. The three-tabling was actually very helpful in a couple of ways: it got me out of most marginal hands (although I still through in one here and there). It also moved me fully to a bot mentality. As many of you know, I normally single table, but I also multi-task while playing. This means I'm doing work on presentations or writing while playing a table. I'm in a constant distracted state, so multi-tabling forced me to focus when I was in a hand while also playing fewer hands.

My $15/30 last table was a bit different. First, Sweetie had come back from seeing M:I:3 again (she fled around 7:00 last night). I was in the middle of playing at the last table when she came back, and I told her I had been through a bad evening of play. We chatted a little bit, then she read some while I played. From the beginning of the session, though, I decided to focus and play my best. I made a physical change to alter my play: I counted to three before acting each time. This forced me to become engaged with each hand, even when I was absolutely going to muck and would have been an instant check of the fold box. I don't want to overstate the impact on the results as I don't think one had anything to do with the other necessarily, but what it did for me mentally was that I was focused from the outset of each hand. I also backed my aggression down just a bit, saving me a couple of bets in losing hands and getting me away from a couple more hands.

I was talking to my brother in the afternoon about this stuff, and one thing that absolutely struck me is that I haven't treated the game as a privilege but as a right. Let me digress into what this means to me. I sneak play in many days at the tail end of work, yet I haven't been very productive through the day. I pop open a table at the drop of a hat like it's fine to start playing away. This lack of preparation and anticipation, again, is starkly different than playing live, where I would have to get to a casino (if I'm not staying there), find the poker room, get on a list, have my name called after reading CardPlayer, get chips, decide if I was posting or not, then play. I need to treat playing online more as something I earn the right to do. If I have a great, productive day, then maybe I get to play.

That's alot of chatter about something most of us would rather avoid reading about or thinking about: losing our hard earned chips and bankroll. Maybe it's just a maturation of play, to get through these stormy periods. What I'll try to do is keep capturing this stuff as I think it's helping me as well as it might help some of you who are either in a bad spot or might see one on the horizon.

willwonka has a couple posts up detailing a similar rough period, with more detailed examination of his play than you'll see here. He's a great player and always a great read, so please head over, take the time to review his posts the last couple days, and flood him with comments.

Felicia has a great last post to her Pscychology and Poker series. Good stuff.

I also have another interview article at PokerWorks, so check it out.

email your addresses to me if you can for those who have books. Sending a batch out today. Thanks for stopping by, and take care.

ADDENDUM: WPT tourney at the Mirage is down to the final six today. David Williams has made it, as well as the Grinder's brother. A brutal bubble hand that you'll have to check out, a horrible misplay that worked.


Blogger The Poker Enthusiast said...

drhodes2down (at) sbcglobal (dot)net

9:48 AM  
Blogger Sloejack said...

Seeing as how I went through my own recent bankroll meltdown I can relate to some extent. I came to the same conclusion (though after the fact instead of during) that I had loosened up and donated my chips instead of staying tight and focused. Having had some space and time away from the tables to think about it, I've come to the conclusion that the subtle shift in thinking was that I rationalized that since the fish were playing any two cards I could lower my standards and equalize the fact that my big hands were getting cracked by the math not working in my favor. More hands seen means better odds right?

Yeah, rationalizing bad play is clearly easier to do when you've taken some crippling blows from bad players. I think the thing that really killed me was that I usually employ a stop limit (to prevent things like blowing my whole bankroll, from peak to felt, in a 2 day period) and every time I hit that point I told myself that it was just the odds not working out the way they should and I could reload and eventually the world would right itself and I'd get it all back plus some.

The stuff I'm mulling over now before I reload and try again is, how did I end up tilted without realizing it, and why did I blow off my own stop limit for the very reason that I have one. I suspect that ego played into it pretty well, and that at the levels I was playing I thought I was "so good" that I lost respect for the other players and "assumed" that if they were playing against me, they were playing inferior hands and that I couldn't lose to the clowns playing any 2 cards. Funny, but I swore I saw some clown paint when I looked in the mirror last.

10:13 AM  
Blogger ScurvyDog said...

"I need to treat playing online more as something I earn the right to do."

...is for me the most interesting aspect of this, and the natural offshoots from it.

Lately I've been wondering if my online results would be better if it wasn't so easy for me to jump on and play. That sounds dumb (and it is dumb) but of late I've fallen into the habit of playing for no reason other than I can, regardless of whether I feel like it, if I'm in the best mood to play, etc. I click on a site, open a table, and play, to fill the dead space.

And there's nothing wrong with that necessarily, as I could just as easily have a great session as a bad one, but it's fairly aimless behavior, and I imagine it skews things towards aimless results.

One of my new goals is to be more focused when I play, along the lines of what you touch on. I've been trying to avoid playing for the sake of playing and setting silly arbitrary goals, such as letting myself play when I get x amount of work done, and things like that.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Klopzi said...

cc, your bad nights really put my bad nights into perspective. Is there a way to say "Thank you" without sounding like a prick?

Still, you'll bounce back with a big win just as most other players do. And you play at levels significant enough that one good night can wipe out a whole week's of garbage.

Good luck and keep it up!

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you answered your own questions over the course of your post.

When I'm running bad my #1 focus becomes hand selection. I get too loose and try to limp and make things happen instead of being patient and waiting for the right cards and then betting them hard.

When playing online I also use the three one-thousand rule to stop being a mouse clicker instead of a poker player making important decisions.

The preperation part is key too IMO for onlilne games. I usually cruise the games and watch people play for sometimes up to 15 minutes before I finally chose a game to play. It seems to get me more focused and it somewhat simulates live play in waiting and focusing.

Keep that mind strong and get back to the basics.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

I'm just now breaking out of my losing streak.

Not sure how I'll handle winning this time, but I'm seeing a difference in play vs. results.

I'm still taking the cracked aces type beats, but buffering them with more stolen blinds and more aggression. Time will tell if this is the path to my winning poker. Just like the poker call phrase "it depends"... everyone's path is different.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Felicia :) said...

Thanks :)

5:01 PM  
Blogger TripJax said...

Not much worse than playing when it doesn't feel right. That leads to rough times. Hope things turn for the better...

7:05 PM  

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