The Golden Rule.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

That was a popular refrain in grade school, and it effectively kept me from making fun of the kid with the nosepicking habit.  Lately though, it has also applied here.  I’ve been quiet on the blogging front because there’s really nothing good to report in pokerland.  But this thing is supposed to be about my trials and tribulations, not only my triumphs, so here you go.

While this is a very exciting, satisfying time in my life–Janeen and I just had a great engagement party and we’re closing on our new apartment tomorrow–I’m also withstanding an extended period of losing while playing fairly high volume online.

It’s the same old story:  I am having a very hard time getting over the hump in online tournaments.  The problem is crystal clear.  The intuition I have in brick & mortar settings is missing from my online game.  Yes, the competition, on average, is worse in live tournaments, but I’m certain that the issue runs deeper than that.  I simply make better reads live.  Of all the “sick laydowns” or “sick calls” or sick plays of any kind I’ve ever made, 95% of them have been live.  I just think with much greater clarity when my opponent is sitting there in front of me in the flesh. 

The solution is something I’ve been pondering for a very long time.  I’ve thought of everything:  switch to cash games, play sit ‘n go’s exclusively, take more notes, take fewer notes, use tracking programs, quit using tracking programs, play more volume, play less volume, play lower stakes, play higher stakes, add another monitor… I’ve thought of everything, although I’ve implemented relatively few changes.  The changes I have implemented have been ineffective.  Particularly embarrassing is the fact that my ROI (roughly “rate of return” for those of you who don’t speak pokernerd) in Pokerstars tournaments has slipped into negative figures over a very long period of time.  I’m still doing fine in sit ‘n go’s and on Full Tilt, so I’m not losing a ton of money, but Pokerstars tournaments, which were once my bread and butter, have become impossible for me to crack.

My recent failures are having a negative impact on my psyche.  It’s getting bad.  I have found myself screaming obscenities and throwing tantrums, which is pretty unusual for me.  These episodes are surely amusing to look at, but unfortunately I don’t get to witness them, so they don’t help me in any capacity. 

This is no way to warm up for the World Series of Poker.  So for the time being, I’m going back to basics.  I’m going to play online tournaments of all stake levels until my confidence is restored.  Final tabling a $10 tournament after 7.5 hours of play and walking away with $438 might feel kind of futile to someone who has several six-figure scores to his credit, but I need to remind myself that I still know what I’m doing, dammit. 

7 thoughts on “The Golden Rule.

  1. hey, look for me in those $10 tournaments! Although look early, because U don’t make it 7.5 hours to the final table.

    Keep playing, and i’m sure your skill will come through. Get all the losing out of your system now so that you can win win win at the WSOP!

  2. congrats on all the good things going on in your personal life with your relationship and new home:)

    just bec u have been running bad on stars means nothing in the whole scheme of things, your roi on full tilt is insane and more than twice as good as many top online pros even if it is a relatively low sample size, and your roi on stars over the past 2 years is top notch…i think its all about volume and u shouldnt be concentrating on just the negative — many mtt pros would love to have your roi live and online — i know its all easier said than done and i guess the fact that ur hard on yourself motivates you to succeed, which is understandable, but i wouldnt doubt my game if i were you, oh and dont forget how your mindset was rite b4 last years wsop:)

    I dont think u should focus on the only negative u can find, which when taken into context with all of your other poker playing during the same time frame, is a strong positive — also for me playing very low limits(its all bankroll relative) can be quite frustrating and sometimes makes me lose my focus and ambition to do well due to the lack of prize money in the top spots, another thing is on stars those low limit mtts get huge fields, which will only increase variance

    i will selfishly admit that it’s somewhat comforting to know that someone with your success and ability can be frustrated and upset with recent results, proving how tough it is to deal with variance — however i think many ppl in your position would not be abiding by strict bankroll rules, they would be overly satisfied and confident and not be taking constant steps to evaluate and improve like you do, which gives you a huge advantage in the long run.

  3. Maybe playing on-line low-stakes/increased variance tournaments isn’t the best warm up for WSOP. Nothing snaps me out of a nasty tournament-only wheel-spinning funk like a brick & mortar cash game . . . .

    Anyone (you, Steve-O, etc.) going to Philly on Saturday for the class reunion?

  4. Monro: thanks for your thoughtful reply, as always. I think my self-critical nature is a double edged sword. I would probably not be as successful without it, but it also causes me stress and saps my confidence in numerous short-term situations. Your reminder of my overall success is something I need to keep myself more aware of.

    Wags: I’m trying to convince B. Scott Higgins to come down on Saturday. Unsuccessful so far. 🙂

  5. Remember Your Wedding could become a “REALITY TV EVENT”

    skill is a constant———–luck should even out——

    Go West Young Man

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