Poker, as always, is a funny sort of game. If you had asked me just this time last week how this month had gone, I would have been utterly ecstatic. Closing in on $300, upped stakes to $10NL and in general just really enjoying my poker. It’s a lovely game when you feel you actually know what you’re meant to be doing.
But one week later and my mood has somewhat changed. Now don’t get me wrong this month, by and large, has been positive. I’m still in the green, I have still upped stakes and I still am enjoying my poker. It’s just that I am not really enjoying it at this particular moment.
Variance, the deadly killer
Now there are many psychological factors at play when you’re appearing to have a prolonged run of bad cards or bad beats. I am just on the edge of that psychological state. I am deep in the midst of a run that makes it appear that I simply cannot win a hand. I know I am winning my fair share, and I am also being lucky on a number of occasions. But the difference is the overall scope of my thoughts and feelings are towards the negative aspects of the game.
In days gone by I would try and plow forward and end up losing even more money. Getting stressed and tilty is just a surefire way to give your opponent’s your buy in. You literally might as well open your wallet and ask them to personally take it from you.
But as I mentioned last month, things are different now. I am different now. I am taking steps to make sure that I try and handle my psychological state as much as possible. Writing this post a day early is one of them. Not getting too bogged down by the fact that I didn’t reach my 50,000 hand target is another. Prolonged run of bad cards and bad variance are always going to happen. That’s just the game doing its thing and it’s actually the reason why this game can be so profitable. Bad players can win. If they couldn’t then there wouldn’t be a poker economy to begin with.
So it’s my duty as a wannabe professional to make sure I cope to the best of my ability. That can involve quitting early (for example I made a stupid mistake last night and instantly quit because I knew my brain had gone beyond its threshold and I wasn’t thinking logically anymore), to having a complete day off from actually playing. The reason for this break is because my tilt has accumulated to such a degree that when it usually takes 3,4 or 5 bad beats to even get my eyebrows raised, it can now come with the smallest of mistakes or bad beats. And it can come instantly.
My brain has simply stored too much of this anger/tilt/stress over recent sessions and is ready to be unleashed.
It’s my job to calm it all down before getting back to the daily poker grind.
It’s Actually Pretty Sweet
This post so far may seem like I’m doing all my usual bollocks and I’ll never actually make it as a professional. But I know different. And I’ve even got some graphs to prove it.
Below is a graph that may look a bit alien to some of you. The most important thing here isn’t the green line (winnings) or even the orange line (All in EV winnings) but actually the ever decreasing red line.
The red line can be a poker player’s nemesis. It tracks your non-showdown winnings and when you first start out it always appears to be heading south. This, in part, is due to always having to post blinds regardless of your holdings and so you’re often forced to fold before the flop or you’re forced to play a pot out of position. Either way my growth as a poker player can basically be summed up by the difference from the graph from February 2017 and the graph from November 2017 (bear in mind that these are being played at 2 different stakes).
If you look closely you can see that my red line in February was over double the total of my green line. In other words I was losing twice as much at non showdown winnings than I was in total. The reason that I made a profit in February was simply based on my showdown winnings (blue line).
Now take a look at my graph from November and you can see that my red line keeps a relatively straight line and is actually now half of my actually winnings. To put it simply, I am now making more money in my non showdown hands, or should I say, I am losing less. To have a positive redline would be a great achievement and is a ridiculously rare feat to pull off. It’s also something I am not striving for (on the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter what your red line is as long as your green line remains positive). This is just one area that I have greatly improved and I can only get better with the more work I put in.
In poker when things aren’t going your way and lady luck has other ideas, it is vital to look at areas that you have improved in. It is a categorical mistake to just solely look at results. They are skewed so heavily in the short term (and yes, 50,000 hands is relatively short term) that it would disastrous to base your outlook on a figure that can quite easily be off by a mile.
So with that in mind I have to take the positives from my improved red line play, especially when my current sessions seems to be heading in the opposite direction. Another positive to look at is my play from the blinds. This was an area I decided to focus on this month (and is a reason why my red line has taken a nice steady decline rather than a sharp decrease). And while I didn’t solidify these positions and strategies perfectly over the month, I certainly came away with improved ‘winnings’
As you can see the winnings in the SB and BB were negative, obviously due to always have to post a blind regardless of holdings. What’s different is the amount that I have lost. I have cut losses nearly in half in the BB and, for a while at least, I was actually positive in the SB this month. I will continue to work at this area in my game and it will be interesting to see the results next month. Stay tuned!
With all my progress and the fact that I am about to become steadily back at $10nl (I am currently either 2 tabling $10nl zoom or 3 tabling $5nl) then I have have my sights set on India and this time it’s all about the work. If I continue to work hard and make ground then it should be ‘easy’ to see myself back at $25NL within the space of 2-6 months. And with that comes the real prospect on heading out to India to work full time as a poker pro. This is what I have been working towards all this time. The idea of being able to travel and work from my laptop is the ultimate goal. Here’s hoping that 2018 will be the year my dream actually becomes a reality.
But first I have a small little holiday to America and Vegas to look forward for…
See you in 2018 folks!