Start me up

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest.
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.”

–Alexander Pope
Beat. Not as in bad beat, as in exhausted. Mentally tired. My blog output has been way down recently, and hopefully it’s just because work has sucked the energy out of me for the last week or so. When I whined about how tired I am at the end of the workday today, my co-worker commented that it’s because we have no “mental downtime” over the entire day– between meetings, application development, and all the rest, it makes for a mentally tiring 9 hours or so.
Add to that an hour a day (minimum) of 3 table poker and some blogging (not to mention the alcohol), and you’ve got a recipe for burnout. Alarm bells have been going off in my head when I realized last week that I hadn’t worked out seriously in around 2 months. For someone who never broke a steady diet of workouts for most of my life, I’m not used to not having the energy or motivation to work out. Part of it is that I’ve accepted my death as an athlete, but another part is that I’m just wearing myself down and don’t have the energy required for a decent workout.
The realization of how beat I was came at the end of a long session yesterday. The early afternoon saw me fighting to break even on 3 $3-6 tables, which seemed a lot tighter and tougher than they had been in a long time. I’ve noticed that I’ve been tightening up considerably, and I’ve stopped playing marginal hands in early position. I think it’s because the games have toughened up, but maybe my tired mind is just imagining things. In any case, after a few hours toiling away just to break even after several suckouts, I decided to change the pace and hit the $5-10 tables. The players were just as bad as the $3-6 crowd, but I managed to quickly lose my buy in on one table, after some bad luck and a couple vicious suckouts. My AA lost to KJ when he turned his 3rd king (maybe he’s related to Halverson). My trip 3s (two on the board) lost to a guy who had flopped a set of 2s. My unlikely two pair, Kings and eights in the BB, lost to a flopped set of sevens. And my Jacks and nines on the BB went down in flames to a guy who caught his gutshot on the turn. A couple bad beats and some bad luck put me out around $170 on those hands, so I was relegated to the doghouse and not the penthouse, which would have been my destiny if I had just won 3 of those 4 hands.
Enough whining. I clawed my way back into the fray, spurred on by the luck brought by Paulsburbon, who correctly observed that our opponents strategy was better for video poker than hold em. I agreed, and complained that the video poker strategy had been kicking my ass all day, but finally my cards held up and I raked in a couple pots. Not enough though. I ended the day down $300, although my win rate (loss rate?) was only -4 bb/100. That’s poker, as they say. I would like to blame it all on the cards, but the string of beats had their effect on me. Raises lost their meaning on the video poker tables, since no one would fold any draw, but I found myself overcompensating and becoming the weak-tight player that I love to play against. Grubby, between Wendy’s burgers and getting sucked out on in the Empire 50K guaranteed tourney, gave me a well-deserved chastising after I let a fish take a pot away from me because I didn’t bet my AJ. I’ll take the easy way out and blame it on fatigue.
The bad beats and bad play were somewhat annoying, but the most frustrating thing was that my mind just felt sluggish after a long week. I realized last night that I need to do something to regain some mental energy, or else I’m going to burn out pretty soon. One thing I’m going to try to do is cut back my work hours to a more reasonable amount. I don’t like to leave things unfinished, but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere. Maybe I’ll make more of an effort to get some workouts in too, we’ll see. I’m open to suggestions…
The Year in Review from THE Online Pro
This week’s post from my favorite pro is a must read. DR wraps up the one year journey of an online pro with a superb post, rewarding his faithful readers with a summary of his online career, and a review of the trials and tribulations he faced during the year. One of the most interesting parts of the post to me was to see how far he’s come since starting out in January of 2002. In a little over 2 years, he’s gone from a newbie to someone to be feared in any ring game. Obviously he’s a sharp guy, but I believe there are 3 things that make David the winner that he is, ranked in order of importance:
1. An unflinching belief that he is better than the other players at the table
2. A natural ability to pay attention and keep track of multiple complex events
3. Extreme emotional fortitude — the ability to continue to play your best game despite high stress levels.
While I believe that DR is plenty good at other things, it is these 3 things that separate him from the crowd, and what makes him his money.
Another thing that I’ve enjoyed seeing along DR’s journey is that he continues to learn every week. The weekly posts provided him with an arena to discuss hands, and all of the replies helped him to think critically about his game. This is sort of the proof that “blogging pays off,” although blogging is not quite the same as posting hands to the 2+2 forum. But you get the point.
Recently my learning has slowed down, as I climb further up the learning curve. I’ve read Izmet and Abdul so many times that I mumble their wisdom in my sleep, and I’ve become a bit lazy in my quest for poker knowledge. Tutoring my friend Monk has made me realize that I’m not spending enough time analyzing my own game, and the main reason is that I’m barely finding enough time to play and write about poker, which I much prefer to the hard work of reviewing my own hand histories. Again, I’ll take the easy way out and blame it on fatigue.
Alright, time to get some rest. Hopefully I can get back to some quality content in the next post, entitled, “Poker lessons from the Blackjack world”. There aren’t that many things that carry over from blackjack to poker, but in my brief stint as a positive EV blackjack player, I did learn a few valuable lessons that have helped my poker game. Thanks for reading and see ya next time…

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