Saturday, April 21, 2012

Check Your Ego At The Door

"I became humble because this is what I had to learn. If you're not humble in this world, the world will thrust humbleness upon you." 
- Mike Tyson

I went on a BIG down slide recently. Two plus weeks of watching my bankroll disappear, one buy-in after another. It felt like nothing I was doing at the poker tables was working. I'd flop the nuts against a clearly inferior hand, we'd flip 'em up, and then I'd get runner-runnered. I would get rockets and then explode upon lift-off. I'd sit down with position on a mega fish, and he'd crush me hand after hand. Nothing was working.

So I tried to convince myself it was variance. We all run badly at times. Even great players get on the statistical down escalator now and then. The trick is to just ride it out, right? Right??

Well, a couple of days ago, after yet another brutal session at the tables, I took a long break and then went back to review my top fifty losing hands from the previous two weeks. I had gotten lax with my post-mortems, so this was in a sense a big two-week session post-mortem review of my play...

...and boy oh boy was I shocked.

Yes, there was some bad luck involved, and yes I had a few big coolers dropped on me... but for the vast majority of major losses the real culprit to blame was.....

....wait for it......

.....drum roll......


That's right; I was playing really, really, really poorly. I was playing passively when I should have been playing strongly. I was Mr. Fancy Play Syndrome personified. I was trying to bluff in spots where bluffing was insane. I saw lots of flops OOP because the other player was a fish. And worst of all, I was calling down with hands that I had no business calling down with. I was playing the part of sheriff or calling station or p-fish; call it whatever you want, I was the live one at the tables.

Said another way, I failed to spot the sucker at the table, because I was he.

Am I good poker player? Yes, I like to think so. Do I understand the theoretical aspects of the game? Yeah, probably better than your average player. Can I crush the low and mid stakes when I'm on my A-game? Yes, definitely.

But I'm also a human being. I'm susceptible to tilt and poor play and not paying attention. And, as Mr. Multi said to me this week, I'm also susceptible to letting my Ego get in the way of my play sometimes. In fairness, he said this in the context of me being reluctant to step down in stakes when I'm running bad; but the point was still taken. I was the problem.

I went for a walk after MM told me that Ego might be my problem, and I did some soul searching. And you know what? As much as I hate to admit it, MM was right. I'd gotten off my game, was playing poorly, and I was blaming it on luck-- and not on me, like I should have.

So what did I do? I dropped down in stakes. I reviewed the ten commandments. I went through my poker preflight checklist. And then I played some poker. Some humble poker.

All-in for now...

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