Friday, March 7, 2008

Looking in the mirror...

Do you know who you are? When you look at yourself in the mirror, who do you see? When you think about who you are, what is your impression of yourself?

I think self reflection is very important. It is important in all aspects of life but since this is mainly a poker blog, that's what I'm gonna tie it into.

Fuel had a very good post that also had a link to a very interesting article. That made me think about my game even more. Is that even possible? I mean every waking moment when I'm not caught up in work or something, I am thinking poker. I am either thinking back to a hand that I played/misplayed, a bet that I made or didn't make, etc etc. My mind is always on poker, always trying to analyze, always trying to get better.

I read a lot of blogs and not just the ones that are on bloglines. The funny thing is, so many players are so confident. I mean, if you read a poker player's blog or a post in a forum like 2+2 or Pocket5s, you would think that everyone is a winning player. Some are just luckier than others. Because the way people talk, it's almost always money going in in a +EV situation but bad beat this, suck out that, set up hand, etc etc. And I thought to myself, do they really believe that they are that good? Do they not see the inherent flaws in some of their plays or the thought processes? If you think this is talking about you in particular, I can tell you that I am and I am not. You are not alone. Actually, I think you are the majority.

Funny thing is, I am a winning player. I've made a good chunk of money and last year, I probably made more than some people do in their real jobs. And yet, when I look at myself in the mirror, I am disgusted with the poker player I see. Now, please note, this is NOT a "I need a pick me up so everyone please comment on how great you think I am" post. Not at all. But in all honesty, I am not kidding when I say that I look at myself and I think I'm a fuckin donkey. A weak tight, passive, one dimensional, totally transparent, predictable donkey. A little harsh? Maybe. But I know what cards I'm playing and I know how I'm betting them, so I am my harshest critic. I mean sometimes, I make certain bets or folds and I think to myself, what the fuck am I doing!? Why am I laying this down? Everything in my body says "Shove! He has nothing. Neither do you but this is a perfect bluff opportunity!" And I see myself folding to the opponents bet... So weak.

I'll never forget this. A month or two ago, there was the blogger's big cash game that Gnome set up. $1600 buy in, 4-8NL deep stack cash game. The usual suspects were there including guys like Fuel, Gnome, Cmitch, Weak, Bonedaddy, Waffles, and a few other bloggers I can't recall off the top of my head. Then there were some nonbloggers that sat... then left... another one... sits down, gets up. Fuel makes a comment. "They're afraid to sit next to me. Or Gnome. Or Cmitch." Believe me, I GOT the message. I didn't say anything but I'm fairly certain that Fuel knew that I got the message. And I did. This was over a month or two ago but that will never leave my head. No, not in a make me tilt to play overly aggressive or spewy. It's just another reminder of me being aware of how I play and how my style lacks the ability to put fear in an opponent. Sure, I get paid off on my big hands. Sure, once in a while I can make moves on certain players. But my game still doesn't have that "x" factor that some players have that literally instills fear in an opponent to play a pot against you. In the past, online, I've seen players like EricBeren and JDJos at the table and I would do what I can to find another table. I hated playing pots against those guys and they probably knew because they would be in almost every pot against me, in or out of position. Fuel's statement and the fact that he intentionally left me off would not go unnoticed... nor forgotten.

Now almost equally amazing is I actually see even worse plays from other players which used to baffle me a lot... these days, I don't even question it. There's something funny in the water they drink and I just let it go. And yet if these were bloggers and you go read their blogs, it's almost like they did everything right and the opponent did everything wrong but got lucky. Doesn't anyone ever question themselves anymore? Because I know I do... almost all the time. Did I get the most out of this pot? Why did I lose this pot? Was it a right fold? If I got sucked out on, did I give this opponent an opportunity to suck out on me? Despite the suckout, was it a good move on my part? When I won a big pot, is it because of the betting/deception or was it just a setup hand for the opponent? These are questions that are constantly on my mind.

The point is, are you a harsh critic of yourself? I mean really. Are you really, honestly, evaluating yourself as a poker player? Because if so, you should see your flaws more clearly than anyone else can. Because you know those two cards that you hold that no one else sees. You know the betting pattern of yourself when you have a hand and when you don't have a hand. You know how uncomfortable you feel when you are bluffing and you have to decide what to do on the turn and the river. You know all these things. It's a matter of putting them into perspective and truly analyzing yourself. If your opponent did the same thing you did, would you call it a great play or would you denounce them as a donkey making stupid move that's surely -EV in the long run?

I think it's important to take a long, hard look at yourself. At that point, you need to determine how you view yourself as a poker player. How you would view yourself if you were playing against you. Do you see a shark? Or do you see a donkey?

Again, please don't bother leaving comments like "dude, you're a great player" or stuff along those lines. I would welcome any thoughts on this post or my weakness/donkishness but this is NOT a "I need some positive comments so please help me" post so I really don't want any morale booster type comments because they will make this post look like a self pity party which is truly not that. I just know that of all the critics out there, I am my harshest critic. I always have been and I'm fairly certain I will always be. That fuels my desire to get better. One day, I will strike fear in my opponents. One day.

12 comments:

lj said...

dude, you're a great player.

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

LOL - I had a feeling you might do that...

cmitch said...

Great post - I think that a post like this shows that you are a great player on your way to being unstoppable player. Anyone that doesn't question themselves in poker or life is destined to be mediocre at best.

In poker you need to question your plays, review your sessions and suck in as much information as you can. We all have those days where we are disgusted with ourselves because we played so poorly. We also have the days where everything is clicking, we are playing our A+ game and feel unstoppable. It is important to question yourself on both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between.

I'm sure players fear you at the table. You don't have to be LAG to be feared by others or to be incredibly profitable. TAG isn't a dirty word. It can be the most profitable way to play at certain tables.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot...

You're good enough. You're smart enough. And gosh darn it people like you.

Schaubs said...

Keep grinding. I like where you are headed with this self reflection mumbo jumbo, I expect big things from you in the coming years.

Well written, well said boyyee.

Klopzi said...

You're right when you say that most poker bloggers are overconfident. They think every pot won is due to skill and all pots lost are due to poor luck.

I'm actually quite the opposite right now. In my last 3000 hands or so, I've won very few pots and those that I have won are due to outrageous luck on my part. You've got to wonder how many times I plan to keep getting my money in as a 5:1 or 6:1 dog.

The pots that I've lost have been due to poor play with enough bad luck to stir up some tilty feelings. But honestly, I'm still running lucky (overall) but losing money faster than I can earn it.

Great post. I'll be doing quite a bit of self-reflection as I try to find a way to start playing "winning" (aka uber-lucky) poker again.

Instant Tragedy said...

Made you look...

You are 100% correct. You have to know what type of player you are, what holes you have and try to shut holes down like the dutch boy trying to stop a leak in the dyke. Huh I said Dike!

I have seen and played with players that want to be good, but have no concept of the odds, no concept of the play, just basic play. And the sharks and the good players would all just circle.

You have to look at yourself and ask those hard questions... Am I good? Where are my issues? Where could I be better? Am I at the top of my game or at a plateau?

Self Examination is the key to avoiding bleeding cash at the poker table.

You are a good player with donk tendencies. But aren't we all...

bayne_s said...

when you look in mirror shouldn't you be thinking I have got to get a new hairstyle over anything else?

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Must be nice to not have to ever think about that, huh Bayne???

Fuel55 said...

But, but, but ... you are the greatest. You beat me HU ...

BWoP said...

Everybody fears the LAG Crasian!

Kidding.

Keep challenging yourself. Keep critiquing yourself.

Gnome said...

You know, you don't have to strike fear into your opponents. That's more of a side-effect that's closely associated with getting respect, which is something that everyone wants but doesn't necessarily have a direct relationship with winning money.
I guess I'm trying to say that you don't have to be the most feared opponent as long as you're the one laughing all the way to the bank.
That's not really the point though.
You know what to do: keep working on your game and keep improving until one day you'll look in the mirror and see the player you want to become.

HighOnPoker said...

Gnome makes a great point that I'd like to expand upon. Fuel's style may elicit fear in some players, but even if your style doesn't, it does not mean that your style is the wrong style for you.

I am going through a lot of the same self-reflection, especially after a tough start to the year. But ultimately, the fact that you are a net-winner means you are doing something right. People say its not just about the money, but make no doubt about it, the money is the scorecard. You should keep improving, but don't try to change to fit someone else's path to success. Ultimately, you will have to forge your own.

Good luck.