Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Loss of Composure

I don't know if its the weather, girls, the "burden of knowledge" in poker, an insatiable urge to gamble (mine or others), an emotional imbalance, my overall tepid results for this year, or whatever else has been combined to create my psyche but its cracking. I have lost alot of my composure over the last two weeks and I can't seem to remedy it. It sounds like one of those incidences where someone recalls being outside of their body and watching themselves perform some act that they either wouldn't or couldn't perform normally. On one particularly aggregious beat last week, I managed to stand up and yell my outs for the river as they bricked out after getting it all in on the turn when my opponent hit his miracle card. Another thoughtless occasion saw a ridiculous player call multiple raises and an allin with nothing only to catch runner runner in the name of gambling. In this incident, I managed to stand up, throw my cards across the table at said player, and walk out all in one fell motion as I was all in. Then just tonight I proceeded to get in a verbal sparring match with a rather large fellow who got real lucky when he spiked a J when we got it all in preflop after a bet, raise, reraise, reraise, and all in with AA vs JJ. I pulled out the timeless (and quite tactless) "Let's go play heads up for $5000 and see how many sets you hit" after he made sure the entire casino knew that he outplayed me by getting all his money in a 4.5:1 dog.

Yes, all of these are bad beats inflicting on me. But that point is of zero consequence because I have taken all of these and worse many times over in the past 2 years. They used to never affect me. I was able to lose thousands of dollars when people nailed their gutshots against my top set and keep right on playing without a hitch in my step. I must say I am more ashamed of myself now then I have been in many years. I have violated every rule and thing I try to impart on others who look to me for advice. I am denigrating the integrity of what is supposed to be a fun recreational pursuit. Worst of all, I know there is no basis for any of this and for one of the first times in a long, long while my emotions are starting to take control of my logical faculties. I have become more and more results oriented which is a HUGE leak in poker player's game. I am watching myself associate a player's game play with their immuatable characteristics; i.e. when they make a bad play, somehow I find myself thinking that this person is in fact stupid and not just a bad player. This is not only a horrible way to jade and bias your poker playing but its a psychologically damaged way to view the world and really is a trademark of a lack of introspection. Which again worries me greatly as a misanthrope and recluse as that should be and always was one of my better qualities.

Most players who go through something like this associate it with playing too much and just take a nice healthy break. That makes perfect sense except for the fact that I havent played more than 40 hrs a week in at least a month since the WSOP much less any 12 hour or 24 hr sessions. In fact, about 50% of my "sessions" last less than 2 hrs and I am out the door in a huff and a hurry. So I really can't contribute it to "overworking". Maybe I am out of physical shape so therefore my focus and endurance with regards to patience have waned considerably? Again, I really can't say.

There are people who can play cards well and there are professionals. Those who play cards well know when to bet, raise, and fold but they don't know how to create an atmosphere or game in which to best maximize their winning potential. Professionals are such people and they are the ones who last in this most fickle of businesses. Players such as Doyle, Chip Reese, Barry Greenstein, and Phil Ivey didn't get to where they are by letting their emotions ruin the atmospheric elements of a game and the human interaction between players strong and weak alike. My behavior has been at best unprofessional and at worst downright insensitive and childish. I will do everything in my power to try and remedy this. In fact, I am contemplating doing something that I would NEVER have done in the past. I may go to the casino tomorrow and search out the guy I got into a feud with and apologize to him. This is unheard of for me as my "opponent" is a loud egotistical guy who reveled my defeat. I know this not only from his reactions but because I recognized so much of his lack of etiquette in my own behavior. This should be the first step in the right direction.


poker said...

it seems to me that we all need a blow up or two on our way to victory, it what separates us as humans. Just the way you speak of yourself and your actions says you lightyears ahead of most keep your head baby nephew

Craig Berger said...

I have always felt that one of your strongest assets at the no limit hold'em poker table has been your ability to get under your opponents' skin while maintaining your composure. Many times I have seen you aggravate opponents into donking off all their chips to you (or trying.) If they are getting under your skin now instead, this may be the source of some of those "tepid results"

Reza said...

The fact that you swallow your pride and make such a post is the first step to maturity and success. You know better than all of us that this variance will end sooner or later and you'll be back on track. Just think positive and stay strong as always.