Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Entitlement, entiltment and pain

These days I seem to be mainly faffing around online to no great effect. The long term plan is to concentrate on medium/high stakes cash and high stakes SNGs but for now, I'm mixing it up.
Last night's session started with a couple of sats (no joy, bubbled one) and ended up with me 9 tabling across 4 different sites. Main focus was a couple of medium stakes NL cash tables, secondary focus was 3 MTTs in the $30-$100 buyin range, and just for shits and giggles a couple of low stakes limit cash tables, a limit tournament and a PLO tournament. Apart from anything else, I like the challenge of having to play several different types of poker at once.
My online MTT game is a lot different from what it used to be and what my live game is still, I'd say I tend to be the early chipleader in 10-20% of them, but my cash rate is nowhere near as good live. Just not patient enough I suppose. So it was last night: chipleader in one tournament from about 100 left to about 10 before the cash, and then just as I was counting the 5 figure first prize mentally, crash bang two bad beats wallop out. I immediately cashed out of the NL cash games for fear of monkey tilt causing me to spew the night's hard won profits.
I of course had no choice but to continue in the Limit and PLO tourneys, and left the limit cash games open too. I made the final table of both tournaments but bubbled in the limit. I got heads up in the PLO before being two outered on the river. The weird thing was that in neither case did I feel even the slightest pang of pain or even regret: I just shrugged and took the beats. The stakes weren't that high which undoubtedly helps, but I think a bigger reason is that I didn't feel entitled to win either. I felt I had at best a smallish skill edge in the limit, and a serious skill deficit in the PLO (lifetime experience: one live tournament, 3 online tournaments), so even getting headsup in the PLO felt like a bonus/accomplishment. I thought back to my very first live NLH tournament. As I've written before, it was in the Fitz just over a year ago, and I ended up losing headsup to Smurph and a runner runner flush. As we walked home, the brother was on tilt for me going on and on about how unlucky I was and the difference between first and second, but I was just thrilled to have come out of my first NLH tournament (I was primarily an online limit low stakes cash game player at the time) with a result.
When I compare that to the kind of steamage I feel these days after live tourney exits, I can't help but think I had a much healthier attitude back then. I didn't feel entitled to anything so everything was a bonus. But on the other hand, if you're to progress at anything, it's probably no bad thing to come to hate losing. As the saying goes, show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser. Losing should hurt. Pain is nature's way of discouraging harmful behaviour and bad habits, and losing is a bad habit to get into. Ultra runners have an intimate relationship with pain: your ability to perform in any given event being ultimately determined by the amount of pain you are willing to endure. In a sense, you have to learn to love pain, to actively court it, and a lot of the training works primarily by raising your pain threshold.
I had a chat about tilt with another player recently. He admitted tilt was a major problem for him, and he'd spunked away a lot of tournaments because of it. I told him I never tilt during tournaments (cash games are a different matter). This is actually true, though the key word is "during". My monkey tilt period starts just after I exit the tournament (which is why I tend not to jump straight into a cash game or another tournament any more), thankfully too late to do any damage. If I take a bad beat during a tournament I can always refocus on the new situation, stack size and so on. This applies even when multitabling online: I seem to have no trouble compartmentalizing so that the bad beat which dumps me out of one MTT doesn't affect me in the others.
Live plan for this week is to try out the daytime poker in Tallaght on Friday, then head to the Jackpot for their monthly game that evening, and play the IPT things in the Fitz on Saturday and Sunday.
On the running front, I'm still in my psycho heavy training phase, involving two runs a day and a gym session every second or third day. Also putting a lot of effort into the mental side of things as I try to psyche myself up for the horrors ahead in my second World 24 Hour championships in Seoul. If you haven't yet read my description of what the first one was like (when I literally ran myself into a wheelchair, check out the Running, my finest hour link at the side.



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