Thursday, May 11, 2006


All of us have flaws at the poker table; none of us play perfect poker. You might overplay mid-pairs, chase flush draws, or just like to bluff too often. Since the start of this year I've played more cards more regularly than I ever have before, and I have watched my game steadily improve. Having said that, I am still very aware that I have numerous holes in my game (discovery of these holes are left as an exercise for the reader). One of them in particular might be a little tricky to fix.

Kat actually touched on this issue the other day. When I was discussing my problem with Weak (who was witness to an episode in all its glory) he came up with a wonderful term for my condition: Self-Tilt.

It's quite funny. I am usually able to absorb bad beats in stride. It is something I pride myself on. For the most part I am able to convince myself that yes, I just lost to a bad play, but it was a bad play I wanted my opponent to make. It can still be wrenching to get kicked in the junk for a large pot on a cash table, or to be eliminated from a tournament in such fashion... but at the end of the day I wanted my opponent making that play.

And let me be clear - I do make bad plays (I can see the folks I play with often nodding in agreement). At this stage in my poker development I am usually able to recognise that I am about to do something stupid, or that I just did something which committed me in a way I didn't desire. Step 1, of course, is to try and eliminate making these bone-headed plays. Step 2 is a different matter: when I make a bad play, and it gets snapped off or beaten, I get angry. Not at the cards, or the dealer, or my opponent who had the balls to punish my bad play. I get angry at myself. And let's be clear - I have a temper. A few weeks back during a tournament I was so mad at myself I actually had to go outside and chill out for 15 minutes, blinding down all the while, because I was playing so badly and getting so mad at myself that I was locked in a death spiral of suckitude. I had to stop and get myself together to try and salvage my situation.

Similarly last Wednesday I completely misplayed a hand and got bounced from a 180 SnG. I was completely livid that I had made such a retarded move, but I proceeded to jump onto a $100 NL table, get dealt QQ twice in a row, and got punished on both of them. To say I was a little annoyed would be understatement of the year. To my credit at that point I actually made a good decision: it was time to log off for the evening.

I realise that I can recover from such a funk. Sunday before last I played in a couple of tournaments early on Sunday, and didn't go anywhere, and I could feel my blood pressure rising. Instead of jumping into something else in my state of mind I decided that it was a gorgeous day outside, and that my time would be better spent wandering down to my local watering hole, sitting outside, drinking beer and chilling. A couple of hours later I returned home, fired up a 180, and with my new frame of mind proceeded to make the final table for a tidy profit.

So, for my own edification I am going to make myself a little list.

1. Recognise when I am about to make a bad play, and STOP!
2. While realising that 1. isn't going to happen overnight (or that I am ever going to completely eliminate the odd dodgy play from my arsenal), when it does happen, try and move on as soon as possible. Don't dwell on it during that session.
3. If I feel that I am starting to get self-tilty STOP and take a time out.
4. Do not be afraid to completely walk away if I do not think I am in the right frame of mind.

Obvious... but I still need to work at it.


Post a Comment

<< Home