Saturday, February 21, 2009

Basically since Valentine's Day I've dropped about two grand and my nice start to February flip flopped into an ugly downswing. Even so, I feel great. For the most part it's because of Jared's videos and the small session I had with him. To reiterate what he wants me to work on:

-Tilt management (paying close attention to my emotional level in-game, keeping reference cards on-hand, etc)
-Training my brain to go through the process model (pre-session warm-up, post-session warm-down, evaluating my play and my progress with my tilt management, etc)
-Organize my life so I can have defined times to play poker, and defined times to do everything else.

So far, I've basically failed everything except watching my emotional level, but I really feel like that alone has reshaped my mental game.

I was doing the warmup/warmdown stuff for a good 5 days or so, but eventually I crept into the "fuck this, let's just play" mindset and haven't used that little record book since.

Nor have I done any organizing! My mom and I agreed that we should come up with a schedule for my work and for when she needs me for other stuff, but we still haven't decided on what that schedule will be. I haven't joined the gym, but I've started training my brain to wake up earlier and go to sleep earlier which will help with everything.

I figure my ideal schedule will be something like:

-Wake up at 10am.
-Eat, walk the dog, then be at the gym by 11am.
-Train until 12 or 1pm.
-Get back home, eat a snack, shower up, and play poker until 4 or 5pm
-If I feel good, keep playing, otherwise relax and do something other than poker.

Feeling pretty excited about slowly changing my habits; I've never been a very structured person, and this isn't just about poker.

So as Jared has suggested and I think I need to do, I should start setting some more daily/weekly/monthly goals. In the next few days:

-Decide on actual schedule
-Start doing the warmup/warmdown stuff again
-Rewatch Jared's video with the process model in it (FOAPP #4 I believe)
-Do more sweats with Fredrik! The videos have been a lot of fun and are great for everyone involved. Another one's on the way, just having some editing problems.

Some hands since my last post:

Against a maniac/fish who likes to raise some flops. I get lucky.

Against another aggro fish. Really set him up for that one, posted about it in the Feb chat thread.

I get lucky again.

Aside from that, those are really the only full stacks I've won since the 16th. Sad.

Against yet another aggro fish. Frustrating, but I think I could have layed down the turn.

One of the things I've been trying to do is experiment with more flatting. It's something I definitely don't have enough experience with. Got set up here completely obviously, but I think I played it fine aside from the dubious preflop call which I don't care about.

And about a half dozen coolers like the one above. Fun times.

Just gotta keep on pushing. I always remember thinking during the downswings "man, I wonder if I'll ever get that feeling of winning 10BB/100 over 20k hands again". Then when I'm on said upswing, it's "how the hell could I ever lose at this game? It's so easy." Then the cycle repeats itself. I'm nearing that "what's it feel like to win!?!?" point though :p

Monday, February 16, 2009

You can't delay the inevitable

I cracked. I feel good though because I'm cooled off now and can take a completely non results-oriented point of view towards my day yesterday.

Don't want to make this a long post, so to put it simply, this happened:

Started the day off well. Stacked AK vs a very aggressive reg's backraise all in with 86s and I held. Some other minor hands, and unfortunately I'm feeling the effects of expecting a big day. Then the slide started, and I made all types of bad bluffs and call downs in between the monster pots:

And one semi tilt-induced/semi reads-based shove:

At this point I gave up completely on all my little reference cards and note-taking and was just plain steaming. I haven't tilted like that in quite a while, mostly because I haven't run that bad in so long and I just couldn't take it. Surprised that my $10 keyboard somehow survived my punches. My knuckles sure didn't.

Today I came back and played a decent session with one massive mistake and the rest of the session played well, I think. I 5bet shoved Q8s in an ok spot but really you don't need to ever really do that, so I'm not happy about that. Didn't set out any goals or anything today, just played more for fun than anything. Yesterday was the problem.

So I failed. It's not the end of the world though - just as Jared pounded into my brain, I have to look at this as an opportunity to improve. Review my hands, learn from my mistakes, and learn from my mental game mistakes as well.

So, let's go over my goals for the session:

1) Play 6 or fewer tables - check

2) Play until 10:00, take at least a 15:00 break, think about playing more if you're still on your A-game - Played 'til 10, took a 5 minute break, then played til the wee hours of the night chasing losses. Fail.

3) Recognize the triggers of tilt and write them down - Losing a half dozen coolers in the span of a few minutes really got me steaming. I realize those are hands that I played completely standard given the dynamics and everything, but it stung. The key thing is I lost money, and that hurts. Realize those plays will reap a profit in the long run though.

Getting outplayed by my opponents also hurt. I have a massive ego and I hate losing. Solution? Learn to accept losses. Like many have said, namely Tommy Angelo on the inside of my book, "To win at poker, you have to be very good at losing". Assess the table conditions objectively, figure out if it's more profitable to find a new table or to stick around, and act accordingly.

4) Constantly assess mental state. Be aware. DO NOT CROSS THE THRESHOLD. - Fail. I guess I was paying attention to my mental state for the first half hour or so, but the next two or three hours I didn't even care. I just wanted my money back.

There you have it: confessions of a childish poker player. I still have the same mental problems I had back when I first started playing. Pinpointing them and running through this process can only help though.

Tomorrow, maybe I'll head over to the gym in the morning, then no doubt I'll be on the felts again to keep pushing along.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Keeping the ball rolling

When I watched Jared's videos a few months back and tried his warm-up, warm-down and whatever other processes, I remember feeling like it was just too much stuff to do with too little reward. Obviously it didn't stick too long last time and so I didn't get the chance to see it work it's magic, but this time around I feel as if I'm past that initial "aw I gotta do this shit again?" hump and I'm starting to get used to it. I guess it's only been like 2 sessions since I started doing it, but it feels right.

Broke even today, felt like it was a big losing day though to be honest. Most of that feeling definitely spawns from the fact that I find really juicy tables in position on massive fish, but can't capitalize on the table conditions. Ran kinda bad today in the sense that I think the fish showed up with the top of their range (most hands I double barreled I had to fold to a check-raise or a donk or whatever).

Was close to getting tilty but I kept myself in check, stuck to my goals, and I'm happy with myself.

Probably the only hand where tilt really affected my decision was the one in the replayer below. The only real thing was that I didn't think long enough on the river with my decision.

The reason I don't really think the river bluff will work is because he was so fishy that he might not even fold a naked top piar here. Even so, most top pair hands have kickers that hit two pair or even a straight at some point during the hand, so I like just giving up. Blegh, my bet sizing sucks too. There are enough Qx/random other shit in his range to definitely consider it though.

Yeah, now that I'm looking through my database, the only big pot I lost was the one above. Aside from that it was just cbets and double barrels that didn't work. Just one of those days. Take it in stride, and move on.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Day 2: improvement!

I actually recorded today's brief session, but scrapped it after it took ages to render and also after I had second thoughts about people actually watching an hour long video of me doing breathing exercises and only playing for 1/2 the time.

Although I lost about a buyin today and nearly hit the tilt threshold I've talked about before, I'm pretty happy now that everything's blow over. I did everything I planned on doing: pre-session warmup, laid down goals, paid close attention to my mental state, learned from my mistakes and ran the post-session warm-down too. I'm also happy because my computer problems are starting to get resolved. SavagePenguin and have helped me isolate what was actually a virus on my PC, and Telescope fixed itself after I reinstalled it. Haven't tried running the opener yet, but I'm finding that opening each file separately isn't that bad anyways, I might just forget about using the opener.

I realize most of my readers probably check my blog for actual poker progress, so here are some of the interesting hands from today:

Against a 70/2/1 (or similar) fish. I had one note on him from several hands earlier when I isolated him with suited crap, double barreled my top pair, then check-called a blank river expecting him to bluff his missed draws, and he bet really tiny with a slowplayed AA.

I'm not sure that note is indicative enough of his play for me to make a really solid fold on the river there, but I know that calling down light is definitely one of my bigger leaks.

This hand, I don't think I can fold the turn, but I definitely think it's possible on the river. Let me know what you think about that one.

Against a pretty passive tagfish. I would have shoved any 5/heart river, but I think there are a lot of AJ/AQ/QJ hands in his range that make my two pair look a little uglier. Not sure I can fold here...

Against a tagfish regular. Funny how spazzy they get when you simply 3bet light. I was actually a little worried about AQ, but I don't see how I can fold with the flush draw out there.

Villain seemed like a pretty bad 30/20 lag, but he really surprised me with that one. Just odd.

I have to admit I don't balance this enough with my big pairs; it just seems like I'd get folds too often. Plus since I 4bet bluff so much I love 4betting with my monsters any chance I get. Maybe stop 4bet bluffing so much? Doesn't seem to work half as well as it used to a few months ago. Not sure if that's variance or if it's actually the game changing.

Awesome when you get a reg to spazz out this much. This was in the middle of like my best session ever - I think I made like 1600 in 200 hands or something. I think I 3bet light like once before this, then went on a mad card rush. I picked up hands like these non-stop, and every time I did someone went spazzy with a bluff, or had a hand good enough to stack me with.

That's that, I'll be off the tables tomorrow as I have shit to do.

I'm not sure I expect to play 30k or even 20k hands this month. I'm going to take things really slow. Build up the habit of running all that mental game stuff, slowly get myself going to the boxing gym, enjoy some time with my girl before she starts working full-time in a week or two, and just hope the poker goes well. I think if I really work hard with this mental game stuff, I'll be playing at the very least 30k hands in March.

I'm also thinking about running a prop bet just like Mr. combuboom is. That would provide awesome motivation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day 1: FAIL

Well, in one sense of the word at least.

Been having some trouble with my PC the last few days, and unfortunately it had to all blow up today in my face all at once. Telescope stopped working, my scripts were all buggy, my hard drives are getting all weird on me...and all this on my day where I was planning on putting all of Jared's tilt-control and organizational stuff together. Needless to say, it tested me.

I ended up just playing a session without my table selecting helper, Telescope, and ran sick good anyways. I did however fail with my warm-up and warm-down. Didn't do either. *slaps wrist* Do it tomorrow.

I did at least write up a process for both though. Again, Jared has his whole course over at Stox, and he explains everything better than me obviously, so I'll just give you the outline of what I've got written down, not so much all the reasoning for it. I have both of these saved on my usually spotless desktop as pdf files, and my plan is to open them before and after each and every poker session.


Make sure you're prepared

-Go to the washroom

-Eat a snack/meal

-Get a glass of water

-Clean off your desk

-Turn off your phone

Write down your goals

-# of hands

-Strategic plays

-Recognizing triggers of tilt

-Assessing mental state

Warm up your poker brain

-Read HHs

-Watch a stox video

-Look at overall graph

Deep breathing

-Diaphragmatic breathing for >30 secs

-Clear your mind

-Get focused


-Visualize your A game

-Compare that with your C game

-Refer to Ideal Game card



Exctract learning

-Evaluate what you've learned

-Things about opponents

-Things about yourself

-Random other things

Evaluate goals/progress

-Did you meet your goals?

-Note small improvements

-If you made mistakes, note what you did wrong so you can do it correctly next time

Review your play

-Review hands


-Hands you played well

Drop the poker

-Breathing exercizes

-Answer Jared's questions from the Warm-Down video

-Do something else!

I used to try a dumbed down version of this and just thought it too much to do every day or even every session. But now I'm thoroughly convinced it's worth it. Try it out yourself for a week or more and see how it works out.

I also wrote down some of those cards for use when I'm actually playing. I'll no doubt be editing them or rewriting them completely as time goes on - the way they're written now isn't guaranteed to work. The basic purpose for them is to have them written when I'm in a completely objective mindset and can see things clearly, and so that when I'm in a subjective mindset during a session, I have these perspective cards to refer to when I start tilting, or when I go off track in any other way.

The first one's for when I'm tilting. It simply reminds me about the long run, and to make sure I quit a table if I'm past my tilt threshold, or if I'm sitting with people who are either better than me or close enough that they're not worth my time. It just keeps me in check so I don't go apeshit and makes sure I'm sitting at profitable tables, basically.

The other isn't too organized; it's a reminder of how I play when I'm on my A-game. Stuff like "constantly checking stats", "constantly adjusting", "aware of my opponents' mental states", "constantly assessing the table conditions", "usually playing less than 6 tables", etc etc.

My other big problem isn't in-game, but rather getting myself in-game. I often have trouble getting the motivation to play, especially when my family's running all over the place and shit is constantly popping up for me to do.

I haven't solved that yet, but one big thing to do is discuss with my Mom and others about my job, explain that I need a certain amount of time each month/week/day to play, and that I can't be disturbed. I also need to free up time when I can get other stuff done, like taking care of my Oma and chores. I think what I'll do is bunch up both of those in the same day, then the rest of the week I'll have free to play and study.

I've also dropped some good coin on a nice set of noise-cancelling bluetooth headphones. A little over 200 CAD IIRC with everything included. They look pretty sick to me though:

This way, I can work while others are running around without having to yell "WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT THE FUCK UP FOR A BIT" (which actually came up during my session with Jared! lol).

So, tomorrow will be more play, more refining of all this mental game stuff, and hopefully more profit. I'm still running like 50BB/100 this month which is just ridiculous.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

First session with Jared

I've been bugging Jared for a while about coaching, but he's so popular in the coaching world that he was booked for months with students among other things I'm sure. Recently he got back to me with an email saying he'd freed some time up, that I'd been bumped up the waiting list and that he could squeeze in an assessment session at 4pm today.

Well we had that session, and I'm the most excited I've been in quite a while.

Without going on a huge rant, my current living conditions are a huge pain in the ass and I've been having a lot of trouble logging anything more than 30k hands in a month. I'd heard a lot about Jared, and although I didn't get much out of his videos because I didn't understand and apply them properly, I knew there was something there that could help tremendously. I made a goal at the beginning of this year to play 500k hands before 2010 rolls along, and that means I need to play an average of like 42k hands per month.

Last month I logged a solid (by my (previous (I think I use too many brackets (don't you think?))) standards) 24k hands, and profited $7k, the most I'd made since last September, my best month ever. So far this month, it's the 10th, and I've only played 1200 hands.

I guess you can say I'm a little off pace. I plan on fixing that, and in 1.5hrs of coaching we already essentially laid out a basic plan to do so. I tried to record the skype call but something fucked up which is unfortunate, and although I'd love to share everything he taught me with you, I both can't remember it all and I think it'd be too much for a blog post anyways.

What I do suggest though is watching his videos if you're a stoxpoker member. I watched them all months ago and they didn't stick unfortunately, but I rewatched a few of them before my session with him and for whatever reason they made perfect sense. So watch them, rewatch them, and take notes the whole time; I can almost guarantee they'll help if you're having any trouble with your mental game.

That said, here's some new stuff I'll be doing to help push myself down that road:

- I think he called them perspective cards or something, can't remember the term, but I'll be writing down ideal thought processes on cards for use when I'm playing. Things like my mental checklist that I go through before every hand, stuff to remind me of the long-term game, stuff to remind me to quit if I cross the tilt threshold, etc. When I actually write them down maybe I'll post them here word for word.

- Organizing my personal life and scheduling time during the day/week to play, something like having a real job.

- Buying noise-cancelling headphones for when I play so that I don't get distracted and therefore tilt.

- Write a mental checklist. Dusty made a video or two about this - what he goes through before each session and the list he follows. Stuff like the breathing exercizes, setting goals for the session, visualizing how I'll go about general situations, how I'll deal with tilt, how I'll pay attention to my emotional level, etc etc.

- And finally, writing in my blog more. Mostly he's referring to me keeping track of my mental state and my progress dealing with tilt and everything else, and I think it'll help tons. Expect a post at least once every other day from now on.

I'm sure there was more on the list, but like I mentioned, unfortunately I lost the whole session audio and can't remember it all. It'll come back to me, especially when I review his videos.

I jokingly told Jared that his 1.5 hours of coaching could change my life, but I really do think that's true. I felt like it was almost more life coaching than stuff relating to poker, and we'll see how it all works out in the coming months.