After my disastrous start to the year, February was my time to take a step back and reassess my options. I made lofty plans to begin writing my book, dive deeper into the realms of stock trading and start implementing ideas for a startup I have. But what I found is that I had no real drive for any of that. I love poker and I love the challenge I have set myself up to face. With all that in mind, It seems like I am not going anywhere.
You only fail when you quit
I’m not sure what it was about this month; whether it was the fact that I had plans for possible alternative incomes, or the notion that I have the next 2 years of my life all ready and planned (regardless of what happens with poker) or simply because I have just decided to accept poker for what it is (a ridiculously hard game) and throw away the idea that I will be living off a poker income anytime soon.
But suddenly I found myself loving the game all over again. And my mind has been expanded because of it.
I really believe that the month of February, although losing and slightly underachieving in terms of goals, was the month where I really started to get poker (I have literally said this hundred of times). I am no longer looking at my results based on the monetary value and my entire brain has shifted for the long term and therefore, I think, my poker decision-making abilities have shifted to.
It’s all well and good to understand poker fundamentals such as EV and variance but it’s a whole different concept to actually put those fundamentals into long term practice. It’s something I have read about over and over and over again; poker players not truly understanding what variance or ev really means and I thought those guys were idiots. But now I have to be honest with myself here and realise I have been dramatically undermining the challenge of beating poker in 2017.
And it’s a challenge I am wholeheartedly relishing, for better or worse.
To try and understand my shift in thought process I have posted I hand I played recently.
Hero (BTN): $38.89
Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero is BTN with J J
5 folds, CO raises to $0.75, Hero raises to $2.25, 2 folds, CO calls $1.50
Flop: ($4.85) T K 5 (2 players)
CO checks, Hero checks
Turn: ($4.85) 8 (2 players)
CO bets $2.25, Hero calls $2.25
River: ($9.35) 6 (2 players)
CO bets $7.65, Hero calls $7.65
Final Pot: $24.65
Hero shows J J (a pair of Jacks)
CO shows A J (high card Ace)
Hero wins $23.54
Old Thought Process
Me: I have JJ vs a loose CO open who is playing a few too many hands. I will raise for value thinking I can get called by worse. Being re-raised again would be kind of horrible but this hand is simply too strong to just flat.
(possible reason to cbet for protection and get called by draws but against aggressive fish who could check-raise liberally I think this would be bad)
Turn>Standard (no reason to raise at all)
River>Oh shit, he’s best massive into that pot, he must be doing that for value. I really don’t want to risk $7+ on a guess that he hasn’t got a king. I fold.
That’s a pretty rough estimate of my previous thought process but you get the drift. Unmethodical, lacklustre and simply not good enough
New Thought Process
Now I will just use the river as an example but my entire thought process has changed considerably in the last month or 2. This will indeed cause me to lose some big pots, but also have the chance to win more as well. Especially considering I am bluffing rivers with a lot more consistency now.
River: Ok so villain has bet around ¾ pot on the river. According to my milestones, I would need roughly 30% equity to call. Obviously, I am crushed against any king but I need to ask myself a couple of questions.
1.Could villain be doing this as a bluff?
2.Does villain get to the river with any better-made hands?
3.Based on stats and player pool types what do these stats tell me?
Now, this still may not be a theoretically correct call and I’m not going to spend an hour in flopzilla to go through all the possibilities. Because what’s important isn’t the results, it’s the thought process behind it.
The person who wins at poker will have a better thought process in most situations over the long run. They read into every stat, every bit of information and will make an informed decision based on history, math and the evidence given.
For the hand above I elected to call because the villain was extremely aggressive and by me checking the flop he could, and rightly so, interpret that as weakness and bully me off my hand.
In the end, my instinct was right and I won the hand. But that hand isn’t important. It was everything leading up to it. It is the way to interpret the data and come up with your own logical conclusion that will see the best rise above the rest. The reason why 95% of poker players are losers (myself included) is because they really fail to see what every single little decision will have on your overall winrate in the long run. And by long run I mean 500,000 hands +. That is just the start.
The old me would have fold nearly instantly and not given it a second thought. $25 pot wasted because I wasn’t thinking logically.
There is a reason why people say that if you are in poker for the money then you will fail, especially in 2017. It is a gruelling game that doesn’t play by any normal rules. Let’s be honest, in the year and half since writing this blog I am at pretty much what I started with and to any normal person that would be seen as a failure. And of course, it is. But in poker, there is so much more to your success than the short term variance of some good scores. And in poker, sometimes you have to look at anything other than results to find the improvements in your game.
It was quite fitting then that when I was ‘planning’ this blog post yesterday it also coincided with my most profitable day of the month. But nothing in my writing has changed because of it. Whether I lost -$200 or won $200, at this stage is, by and large, irrelevant.
Now I know poker players are renowned for deluding themselves that it will all be fine when in reality they are losers and will be forever. They get hung up on short term variance or fail to fully comprehend the world in which they so happily sit. But I don’t think I am deluded. I may not live out my fantasy of doing this full time and that’s fine. But what I know is is that I CAN achieve just one more promotion.
And so that has become my new goal. Get promoted to $50nl and become a regular winning player at those stakes. I know that this goal IS achievable and from there I can then truly take stock of where I find myself.
The road continues…
I am now starting my video diaries again so I will just drop this here before I decide where to post them in the future. Enjoy!