A big win Monday wiped out a week of runbad and more. What was the key?
While I know that it’s important to get into the big game early and not arrive fashionably late with the other sharks, rousing myself to action can be an issue. It’s easy to lie to myself and say that the games are always good, which is true but not the point. However, with the east coast trip twenty four hours away and another vacation starting after that, there was no room for laziness or error. I hit the road and then the table, fast and hard, while it was still mainly populated with softer targets. My work is a pleasure, yes, but it’s still work and I have to treat it that way.
Questions remain, however. Do I want to bring my pain threshold game, which works so well at lower stakes, to the biggest game in town? It certainly would have helped in spots. Ending up with ace high, no draw and three calling stations behind me is a disaster… yet so is letting bottom pair win. As well as this session went, it may in fact be the call to a style I’ve been scared to employ at stakes I’m not technically rolled to play.
Having the humility to shut down the barrelling when they just won’t fold anything is difficult, right when I am convinced that in the regular games I need to be firing three shells more. It’s easy to watch the other winners fire pointless bluffs, but if I put myself in their shoes, would I not have done the same? The effort to play perfectly is really about adjusting effortlessly, and my preference for bluffing is like a stylistic handicap sometimes. I have to turn off the poker commentator in my mind who always wants more, not less from me.
Memories of the downswing are also imprinted in my brain, and I let the board discourage me from value betting where I was supposed to in one spot. In retrospect, I may have not been paid anyway, but all we can do is give ourselves the opportunity for something good to happen. When they torment you for an entire summer with every kind of draw out, it could change you. Even my fairly stoical reserve has been drained by these months of difficulty. Just the other week, I had left the casino after twenty minutes of play following three losing hands at the top of my range, my wallet emptied and unable to process why I was always the one getting kicked. I hope the confidence this important win gives me will fix that increasingly scared thinking going forward.
Lastly, since I often focus too much on the negative in my writing, not because I am down on poker but because the struggle is often more interesting, I should mention one spot where I my opponent clearly may have made a value hand, and I overpotted the river, getting snap called by his worse hand. I also felted a known pro and winner with good range decision, identifying a possibly tilt-induced bluff in a spot my opponent should not have put himself into. I risked all my profit on this thin decision but it had to be right. These hands are crucial and a sign that no, the downswing has not changed me too much.
In truth, the hand against the pro was ever so slightly bittersweet. He’s not a twit or entitled (there are certainly several professionals in that game I would love to break), lives in a rough part of town, and I bear him no grudge. The margins in our life are probably equally thin, and as much as I need the money, if I could, I would not take it from him but from others.
He left, distraught and frustrated. I know all about that: it’s in our job description.