Saturday, January 14, 2012

Leaving Money On The Table

{Author's note: Well, I'm off on another European business adventure tomorrow. This time it's Spain for a week, followed by Germany the subsequent week. Blog posts may come never, rarely, frequently, or non-stop, depending strongly on how bad the jet lag is, and whether I find myself wide awake at 2am local time with nothing to do but think poker.... Sigh. I hate business travel..... }

I watched an interesting training video the other day that got me thinking about elastic vs. inelastic bet sizing, and how ignoring this key concept can potentially cost you extra money you might have otherwise won in a big-pot hand. In a sense, not exploiting your opponent's calling tendencies means that you're leaving $ on the table. I'll probably write a blog entry explaining this in more detail at a later date, but this morning I'm thinking more "big picture." Let me explain:

Imagine: The stacks have been shoved into the middle. The river card is dealt. You turn over quads and your opponent physically winces. He mucks his loser and says, "nice hand," of course not really meaning it. The dealer then carves out his pound of rake flesh, and pushes the remainder of the monster pot toward little 'ole you.... imagine only dragging 90% of that pot into your stack. You literally leave 10% of your winnings on the table, out in the middle for anyone else who wants it bad enough to take. Pretty dumb, huh?

Yeah, so what? Only an idiot would do this, right? Who would be dumb enough to leave ten percent of their winnings on the table?

You and me, that's who. In fact, maybe you're leaving more than that.

Every single time you decide to jump into the first table that comes open (instead of scouting potentially softer games), you're leaving money on the table. Every single time you open a web browser and surf while playing an online game, diluting your concentration, you're leaving money on the table. Every single time you veg out to a sitcom on TV in lieu of watching a poker training video and learning a new technique, you're leaving money on the table. Every single time you don't review your statistics and key hands after a session, you're leaving money on the table. Every single time....

...well, you get the idea. Poker is a game of small edges. When we fail to hone and exploit those edges, we're forgoing profit. Not preparing to play falls under this category. Not playing position, too. Not employing REDi. Failing to do the math. Not being in shape. Playing distracted. Playing at stakes too high or too low relative to your bankroll. Not playing tight. Not playing aggressive. Not keeping a journal. Not reading forums. Not talking strategy with friends. Not using HUD stats to their fullest. And so on...

We all know that tilt leads to bad play, which in turn leads to losses. Tommy Angelo defines Tilt as any time that you're not playing your A-game. I actually think it's bigger than his definition, that it extends off the table. I think you "life tilt" at poker when you get lazy and don't do the off-table work necessary to excel at the game (or whatever your passion/hobby/interests are). Sure, if your goal is to just dabble at poker, then none of this matters. But then why are you spending your precious time playing it? Life is short. Wouldn't there be something better you're more interested in pursuing? Something that you might actually put that extra effort into excelling at?

If your passion is poker, then your goal should be to win. This in turn means you have to do the work. Otherwise, you're leaving money on the table.

All-in for now...

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