Running Bad

Posted by in Poker

I suppose I can take a certain degree of comfort in the fact that the phrase “I hate poker” has been said a lot lately, and not all by me. But no, we all know it doesn’t really help any.

I have never been a winning poker player. I had, however, been doing quite well lately and was well on my way to reaching such status. But the past few days have seen me fail to cash in tourneys or SnGs, and I’ve tried many. That takes a real toll on the bankroll, and it’s killing me.

I’ll be 29 in a whopping 11 days. (And yes, you’re all invited to the party). I’ve grown up more in the past six months than I think I ever have. It’s almost as if everything was waiting to catch up with me, and while I managed somehow to keep it at bay for a long time, it’s now hitting all at once, resulting in some doubt and regrets. I suppose these are growing pains.

And I suppose this is tilt. The long-term, soul-crushing variety, that is. My online bankroll has never been so low. To make matters worse, I actually sat down to determine how low it is, and while it’s only slightly more than I’ve been known to go through in Vegas, it still hurts.

OK, putting it that way didn’t help any.

Some of this is due to being cold decked lately. But a lot of it is my failure to apply what I’ve learned. My instincts are dead on – it’s like I’ve taken in everything I’ve read or studied, and while it may not be right there on the surface for me to grab, it’s deep down below in the subconscious, and I just need to listen to it.

Case in point – first hand I play in a $20 SnG. In MP I get KQh. It’s folded around to the SB, who raises. BB folds, I call. Flop is gloriously all hearts. I check and then call the bet from the SB. Turn is a 3 and pairs the board, and here warning bells start to go off. I know there is danger. But I decide to risk it; ignore everything I know. River is another three, and it’s here that I know I’m fucked. Still, with the pot as big as it is, I have odds to see if I’m good, so I call with my last few chips. Since any pair in the hole had me beat, I wasn’t really surprised to see the Jacks.

I believe Iggy has a phrase for such play… (well, maybe calling the flop was OK, but I should have put him all in after the turn. he may have called with his two pair, but at least then it would be another suck-out loss instead of me just fucking it up.)

It’s times like this that you seriously consider quitting. Cause it’s just not working out right, and you’re in a hole and doubt you have the ability to get out of it. More growing pains, more doubt.

What I find myself missing most, in both my daily life and poker, is the connections I once had. In my daily life, they’re coming back, piece by piece, and it’s wonderful. But in poker, they’re still missing.

It’s my fault, in both arenas. I’ve let connections lapse and languish and have a lot of lost time to make up for. And with poker, I haven’t been taking advantage of all the tools at my disposal. One of my best friends is an awesome no-limit player. People routinely go to her to analyze hands and the like – why not me? I work with some great poker players, yet most of the time when the topic of poker comes up, we’re flipping through a months old copy of All In, or discussing why a fellow employee has a strong dislike of Antonio Estfandari. I have 20+ fellow like-minded people in town, yet we never get into serious poker talk. We can’t even get together for a game, because this is Austin and there is always something else going on. Plus some are rather reluctant to leave home. πŸ˜‰

Most glaringly of course, is this blog. Rarely if ever do I post looking for some analysis or discourse. I’m a diarist, as Iggy recently said during a fantastic dial-a-shot turned strategy conference call. But that doesn’t really leave much opportunity for conversation, unless you’re telling me how cute my dog is, or how bad the Texans are. Not to mention, it doesn’t help me as a player.

During the Friday night conference call, Joanne asked why I started blogging. I told her that it was based on defective yeti; an attempt to keep in touch with friends, to post witty and urbane reflections on life. When poker took over my life, it took over the blog. And as Iggy pointed out, when I picked my domain name I was making a conscious effort to be part of the poker blogger discourse. So why don’t I take advantage of it?

I used to have people who would play with me all the time, offering insight on hands as they happened. It’s incredibly valuable, and I’ve been missing that. I got a taste of it again Friday as JoeSpeaker and I joined a tourney at FullTilt and had Jason for a railbird. The encouragement and questioning that came from them both, plus the resulting hand discussions were a great resource. I used to be the ultimate railbird myself, exchanging good luck charm services for a chance to peek inside the mind of a better player and see how they did things. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that.

As much as I’d like everything to stay the same – for those who were my touchstones to not be so very busy, to be under the wing of a successful player again, to have a personal analyst at my disposal – it’s part of growing up that you move on and find new ways to accomplish the goals you have set. It’s part of growing up that you realize you need to do that, and not remain rooted in old notions which ultimately leave you trying to go it alone. You wake up to the tools you have around you and use them to the full extent.

Which I plan to do, just as soon as I’m un-tilty.

I’m not sure what the next move is – I can try and grind it out at the ring games and build the bankroll back up, but card dead is card dead. I can try and make a major score in a tourney and then all will be well. It’s a nice idea, and would be great if it happened, but it’s hardly something to bank on (unless I let Joanne play for me, that is). I can read/study/converse more, and build up that subconscious until it’s overflowing and has no choice but to reside on the surface.

The one thing I know I can’t do is give up. It’s well within my nature to do so; my list of former hobbies and pursuits is long and varied. This game however is now a part of me, and brings out my competitive side like nothing else. I do sometimes wonder if perhaps God is trying to tell me something; that while I’m not scared to gamble, it’s just not meant for me. I mean, come on, New Orleans is now tied in the 4th quarter, and I even had someone else make my picks this week. Now watch the Texans win…
[OK, sure, the Falcons scored and un-tied the game, but then the ‘effing Giants…]