Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mental toughness

Mental toughness is a big part of our game. You could be the best player technically in the world, but if you lack the mental toughness to perform to your ability, you'll never be a top class player. It's not good enough to merely be good: you have to actually play good.

This week I've been focussing on mental toughness. I've never had a problem with it live, but online it's too easy to fall into the traps of surfing while you play, or chatting to friends on MSN. It's too easy to tilt as you take your umpteenth bad beat of the day and go spew off in the other windows. It's too easy to forget that no, online poker is not rigged and no, you are not any unluckier than everyone else. It's too easy to selectively memorise the bad beats and conveniently forget your own suckouts. It's too easy to look at your Pokertracker graph or Sharkscope figures and think "Yes, but if I ran even half decent....". It's too easy to look at the graphs or results of others and think, oh well, they just run better than poor little me. It's easier to think it's luck, not that they might be better players than you, or play better more often. As Joe Beevers said at the final table in Drogheda, it's unlucky to believe in luck.

So this week I've been trying to maintain total focus on the poker when I'm playing online: in essence give it the same concentration as live. It seems to be paying dividends: last Sunday's cash in the 1K game on Boss was followed by 4 1k+ profit days.

Or maybe I'm just running good at the moment.

It also has to be said I'm putting in long hours for those 1K days. Typical day this week consisted of an hour or two grinding before breakfast, then a couple more hours in the afternoon, followed by a couple more in the evening, and finishing with the 5 or 6 hour shift starting at midnight.

Only live outing since the weekend was last night's scalps in the Fitz. I think I managed a new feat of going the entire tournament without actually winning a pot, and by the time the ship or fold stages was reached, my first ship, a suited ace, ran straight into AK in the BB and there was no suckout. Live poker is rigged.

In truth, I didn't give too much of a rat's ass. The early night meant I could hightail home for another 1K+ nightly online session despite donking out of tonight's FTOPs in glorious fashion.

On Tuesday I got 4 handed in the European Short Handed sat. There were 2 packages but it was not to be: I overshipped a decent ace over an Andy Grimason raise to find he had an even decenter ace. Well done to Andy who went on to land one of the packages.

The following night I got headsup with Dewi James in the ticket only satellite. It was winner takes all and I went into the HU battle with a 2:1 deficit. Any time I looked like I might be about to turn the tables, Dewi seemed to river a gutshot. Not to be.

Simultaneously I was on the final table of the GUKPT satellite. Highlight was making probably the best call of my career: an allin on the river with ten high. The river ship made no sense, and when I worked back through the hand I was well over 50% certain he could only have a busted openender, which meant 9 high. Which is precisely what the thieving little monkey had. From there I was golden and nailed down one of the packages, so next week I'm off to Newcastle. Last year's Newcastle GUKPT was a special tournament for me: my first result outside Ireland. I ended up going out on the second last table in particularly sick fashion hitting an unwanted unneeded and totally uncalled for set on the river that made a gutshot straight for the other guy (who went on to win the tournament outright), so hopefully I can go at last one table better this year.


I've never yet had the feeling of making a call like that one you made in the GUKPT satellite with 10 high & being right! To put him on that exact hand, to call with 10 high & to be right must be some feeling; better than winning with AA anyday.

Re the mental toughness; I agree with everything you said in that it's much tougher to adopt this online but therein lies the potential for massively increased profit if you can identify this like you have done. WP.

When playing poker I feel no remorse for a suckout & just accept being sucked out on. I have no interest in hardluck stories. My only concern is to get it in good as often as I can. This will be long term profitable and thats all I can do. I have no interest in 'running with the pack'; I just want to win, simple as.

Very true Thomas, the feeling obtained from making a call like that and being right is one of the best in poner. Of course, one of the worst would be if he turned over a slow played set and you look like the ultimate donk after calling him down with ten high :)

Very good mental approach too, that's pretty much the way to look at it I think.


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