I spewed the last two sessions and I couldn't figure out why exactly. When you start to lose its a great excuse to sit back and do work away from the table to prevent further leaks. You have to create a positive cycle out of poker. Kind of like Lather. wash. rinse. repeat but with chips and money. In the past I would sit there and I couldn't wait to get back to playing. I'd get back to playing and nothing would change. I'd just play angry.
It wasn't until my biggest spew where I finally took a look in the mirror and began to hold myself accountable for what I had done. I was so angry at other people because they hadn't made me into a great player I finally realized that this game isn't complicated. You just have to put in the time away from the table, especially in this day in age. If I was going to dig myself out of that hole and get back on track I would have to fix a lot in my game.
That is where I discovered these cycles. When shit hits the fan you don't throw more shit at it. You turn the fan off and clean yourself off and take a shower. You open the fan and clean the blades. You clean the people up around you. Put the fan back together and get back to work!
So in a losing cycle, until I have realistically explored every area there is to this game to the point where I just have to do volume, it's best to take a step back, breathe and work on away the table stuff. That is when I realized there are triggers that lead you to playing less than your A and B game and when this happens you should have a back up plan or a default game to revert to.
Before you do that you have to be clear as to what you do specifically in those parts of your game so you recognize when you begin to slip into your B game. Once you start slipping into your C game is when you should shutting things down and calling it a night. The stamina you have for each level is up to you consciously practicing and adding things to those parts.
For example, depending on my day, what I've eaten and if I've worked out or not I can probably do 4-5 hours in my A game and another 4-5 in my B game. Thats a solid 10 hours but only if I have eaten well and am in a good mental state. There may be some days where you can only spend 1-2 hours in each. You have to be honest with yourself, especially live. Since I don't have a car I have to make an honest decision before every session. I have to hitch rides, take the light rail, take the bus and sometimes take a cab is things get shady. Until the internet comes back thats what I will have to do and even when it does I will still do it because I'm not sure if I am fully profitable on the internet yet. I feel like I will be but theres no way to test it.
So for anyone interested in reading here is my A game and B game,, what makes up each part and when I should quit. It's important to know that this is personalized to me. If you want one you have to do one for yourself. You may learn a couple things but poker isn't meant to be learned through a manual. You have to apply a lot of the knowledge. Learning about yourself is an ongoing journey so even when you get comfortable you have to continually add to it.
A Game: When I'm playing my A game my confidence is at its highest point. This can also be dangerous because there is such thing as overconfidence.
What is overconfidence? When you teeter on the brink of overconfidence you begin to lose sight of what makes you money which is not focusing on the money. Instead of saying I'm going to win X amount of dollars every session you should have a mini goal in mind such as value betting better or understanding board texture. When you're overconfident you slowly begin to widen your range and making fundamental errors. Since you're better than everyone then you don't have to focus on position or domination theory, you can outplay them postflop, right?
The math still applies the same for you as it does for everyone else. Calling KTos in the SB to a MP raise against a player you're better than is still a losing play in the long run no matter how good you are. Of course there are situations where you should widen your range but it has to be player specific.
For example, there are players in this 2/5 game I am going to start widening my three-betting range against because they call three-bets super wide in certain spots. What spots are those that I can do this? Good question. I don't know yet. Before I start three-betting them with a wider range I should be constructing that range at home. I think I can throw AJ, AQ and maybe ATs but I haven't decided. I can also throw in 77-99 because getting heads up against those types is hugely profitable because they bloat pots only to give up on them later. So three-betting them with a wider pre flop range for isolation and value purposes will create excellent situations for me post flop since I can hand read better than them.
But when you start calling with too many hands just because you think you're better is a great way to light money on fire.
What else is there to add to my A game? I'm also thinking clearly. I can remember hands from previous sessions with ease. I'm in a good mood and very optimistic about life in general. I can bluff with confidence and am going through my mental check list as the hand develops.
My mental check list is basically what you should be aware of throughout the hand. What are they? How many players to the flop, what position is the raise coming from and who raised as well as stack sizes and then my hand.
When it goes to the flop the first thing I look at is the person who raised pre flop and how his eyes interact with the board texture. I then look at the board texture and while also paying attention to the action. I then think about how it interacts with my hand. If Im at my peak A game my own hand matters less especially if I pick up a tell or am reading board texture well.
As the hand goes on your decisions should become easier and easier because players start bailing out and people will tell you what they have by betting and checking depending on the board.
It could be different for you depending on how advanced you are. At this point this is where I'm at in my game. If you're further along you may go through more but I think you have to master the ones I listed before moving on
Being optimistic about life is extremely important. Why? Well most players who play live poker sit there and complain about how bad their lives are. They blame the dealer for their bad play, are angry and don't hold themselves accountable. In their world, they are either running bad and it's the dealers fault or they're playing good.
It doesn't matter if they constantly break fundamental rules and limp/call with K9os. It's everyone else's fault and the world sucks.
Poker can be broken down into one basic thing: What ever your opponents do, you do the opposite and that's how the money will flow. This applies to a lot of things in the poker world. Good players are generally a little more optimistic about life. If they aren't then they can somehow drown out the negativity while playing.
I think it is much easier for me to work to be happy and optimistic about life and have it spill over in poker then it is to shut out emotional issues. It won't just help you in poker it will help you day to day.
Listen, I've come from a really well off family but they are no longer supporting me. Because of this I have to take the bus and I've noticed some things while riding the bus. The people on the bus are extremely negative about life in general. They always find something to complain about. It's the bus drivers fault for being late but hey, it's not the bus drivers fault that you're riding the bus, is it?
If you had a car you could be more efficient because you could get to places easier. It's a harsh thing to say but thats the reality. If you broke down the lifestyles of some of those people you would discover why didn't have cars which in turn means that it isn't the bus drivers fault you're late. You have a choice and so to the bus people. They can choose to be bitter and angry about life or they can realize that the choices you make will have a direct effect on how the world responds to you. The first and easiest thing you can choose is to be optimistic. When you're optimistic you see the world in a different light but it takes practice. If you've been raised in a negative environment it will be much easier for you to be negative and blame other people. It's taken me years to get to this point and it doesn't get any easier day to day.
There are things you can control and can't control. Being optimistic is the first step you take. It's crazy but it creates this energy around you and the world forms to you. If you take care of all the things you can control and life is still fucking you over then you truly do have bad luck. I challenge you to try this. When you think positive you create outs for yourself. There are plenty of self improvement people can do before it's someone else's fault. When the glass is always half full you don't have to wait for luck. Luck comes to you.Trust me. I've been through this. And it jumps out at me during everyday interactions with people.
Heres a good example for you guys. I have some buddies who complain about not getting girls. They will blame the girls and call her a bitch or a buddy who allegedly cock blocked them but if you hung out with them on any given night the answer would surely jump out at you as to why they really aren't getting girls. What is it?
One buddy specifically is a straight up drunk. When he gets drunk he slurs his words and flails his arms around like a T-Rex by keeping his elbows in and his forearms out. He also smokes cigarettes and as the night goes on has terrible breath. It also doesn't help when his white heads begin to burst and can't walk straight. He also tells you the same story 10 times throughout the night with slight changes. The stories always change to paint him in a better light and others in a negative light. When he's sober he tells you the story again and again and it changes ever so slightly each time to his liking until it's the other persons fault.
Does this guy get girls? Yeah he does but not as many as he would if he didn't get so drunk. He's actually lost way more opportunities being wasted than he has ever gotten girls. It's sad and I've tried talking to him but he never wants to face the reality of the situation. He's happy being a drunk and anything that threatens that world he will shoot down and ignore. I've sat back and watched a girls body language and look at him in disgust as he drunkenly stumbles over and tries to talk to them. I've had to step in a few times and apologize for his behavior. He's creeped people out, inadvertently started fights, and gotten kicked out of bars. Sometimes all in the same night but hey, its their fault not his behavior.
But the story the next day is always the same. He got cock blocked by someone or the girl was a dumb bitch for not talking to him. He's not a bad looking guy but there have been plenty of instances where he's had a girl lined up only to have her leave him in disgust and annoyance.
In essence the people I ride with on the bus are drunk. They can't see the other side of things because they are always negative. They wait for luck to come to them by purchasing scratch off tickets and nothing ever goes their way.
When you approach the world with optimism and hold yourself accountable it's the strangest thing but things start to go your way little by. So next time when you take a beat or have a big spew session instead of sitting their and blaming the bad play or the dealer look at what you could have done to avoid the situations or possibly play better.
95% of forum threads are started by people who either leave out information or haven't mastered the fundamentals. They look for justification in playing bad. A lot of the time it's people playing hands out of position or calling opens they had no business calling or ignoring the board texture and having their big pocket pairs get cracked by some weird two pair. Yeah, sure the villain should have never called an open with j9os but you shouldn't be stacking off with pocket AA in a 4 way pot on a J8T9 board after a raise and a re-raise.
I don't know everything there is to about life or poker. Neither does anyone else. All I do know is that when I have chosen to be in a good mood or mindset and ignored lifes small annoyances life has been much easier to navigate. I'm not talking about dumbing yourself down. Negative things will happen in life and at the poker table but you can choose how to approach it and it's much easier to handle with a positive attitude.
Thats enough for today. This post is long as fuck. It's also kind of gone of course. Next time I will continue to discuss what I think makes up my A game and also what your B game should be made up of