Friday, May 28, 2004

Will Power

I want to win.

Poker is infinitely more fun when you're winning. Which is the great paradox of poker. You can't always win. You can play absolutely perfect poker and end up a loser in the end. What's worse, you can lose to someone who has a fifth the poker knowledge you have. To someone who hasn't studied the game one minute. Perhaps he's never even bent cards before this encounter, yet he's kicking your ass and stealing your lunch money.

So the question begs; what separates a decent poker player from a great poker player?

Tilt control.

After all, there is absolutely no difference whatsoever between the cards that I am dealt and the cards a Phil Ivey are dealt. Everyone gets pocket aces eventually. But how does one react when such a great hand falls to some ridiculous draw?

Tilt is like the common cold. You catch it immediately, but you might not know it until you get the sneezing and runny nose. The virus has been at work in you for several hours or days by then. In much the same way, you might shrug and honestly feel completely cool when you lose to a way inferior hand, but unconsciously your mind may be scheming something completely outside your notice. Deep in the recesses of your brain, the neurons construct the "I'm gonna get my money back from that fucker" thought. You don't say it, you might not even consciously think it, but when you find yourself at a decision on whether to try to bully this guy who sucked you out with some crappy holding, you inexplicably start pushing chips and not cards to the center of the table. Machismo takes over. You see this guy not as a player who might or might not have a good hand, but rather as the guy who cheesed you out of your pot a half hour ago.

It's subtle to you, but it's obvious as a bomb to everyone else at the table... And suddenly you're the target. After all, nothing brings a bunch of people who don't like each other together quite like a common enemy.

The moral is, I think I've been on tilt for quite a while... Not the obvious "turning purple" kind of tilt. More the "I gotta start winning" kind of tilt.

Lately I've been getting that old familiar feeling. I'll be sitting there at the table. Maybe I'm in the middle of the pack chip wise. Maybe I'm a little short stacked but not in immediate trouble. I'll start feeling like the table has all eyes turned to me. I'm the one they want to get off the table. Everyone dodges around with each other... A faint here, a perry there, until I get into a pot.. Then suddenly it's re-raise city and all-in county. I suddenly find that I've sat at this table and quietly bided my time for 40 minutes only to have it all come down to an all-in or nothing decision while still far from the money.

I'm willing to press on, but I have to make a rule. If I lose to some stupid shit, I have to take 30 minutes off and go do something else.


At 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Help me Dude, I'm lost.

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw Elvis in the supermarket yesterday.

No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new plasmatv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a plasma tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger then I'm gonna go home and ask Michael Jackson to come round and watch that waaaay cool surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on my new plasma tv .

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)

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