A moment of truth

"...a cusp is an important moment usually regarded as a decision point upon which consequent events are determined." Wikipedia.org

I feel I'm at one of those times, where as my dad would say, I need to either shit or get off the pot (Dad was never a man to mince words or suffer fools...remind you of anyone?).

I've been playing poker for a year and a half, both online and live; mostly online as the closest casino is 2 hours away. I've been playing real money tables online since October of last year.

Yes I definitely think my game has improved, thanks primarily to my friends who have managed to tell me in one sentence or less what they think I can do to make my game improve:
  • Loud: "remember you are eff cubed....be confident and kick some ass!!"
  • Weak_Player: "just pay attention to the table and the betting - don't let yourself be distracted."
  • SoxLover: "If you folded more pre-flop, about one third of the hands you play, you'd definitely be in my Player to Watch list. As it is you're edging into the Maniac List"
  • Veneno: "Kat, in HU you're far too passive. Be more aggressive - no way a HU game should last 110 hands."
  • Garthmeister J: "Maybe playing after a few beers might not be the best idea of either of us."
  • SirFWalgman: "Stop your love affair with TPTK and you'll stop being my ATM. PAY ATTENTION to the betting at every round...who's changed?"
  • Hoyazo: "Don't limp with monsters!"

So from this, I boil down my challenges into:
  1. lack of proper aggression - slowplaying at a bad time/with the wrong people
  2. lack of the right mindset to win - playing because I'm bored, procrastinating, or just for fun (this last one is not a BAD time to play, but I shouldn't expect to win).
  3. not folding enough. I'm still seeing the potential in every hand as glass-half-full rather than glass-half-empty.
  4. not watching my opponents as closely as I should be.

So the last few days I've been thinking of my progress, my play, and where I'm taking this. While I've played a LOT of hours, I still think I've been a dilettante, a dabbler. I've skimmed books and magazines, but have made very little effort to incorporate the techniques into my play. I have not studied it. I do not use charts, calculators, players notes or helper software.

Why not? Two reasons: 1) I'M LAZY and 2) in the past, when something becomes work for me, it ceases to be fun or interesting.

The laziness thing I can't really do anything about. As Popeye said, "I yam what I yam". I will overcome it for periods of time, but it always resurfaces. And while it's definitely a killer obstacle, I've discovered that it's more the second item that's the roadblock to me becoming really good at winning poker.

When something is missing in my life, I take on an obsession, another passion to replace the one absent. My closet is filled with leftovers of these fleeting interests; stained glass bits, embroidery floss, books, half-written essays for creative writing classes, fabric and 2 dusty sewing machines, photography detritus, jewelry making thingamabobs...the list goes on.

Two obsessions have not faded: knitting and poker. I love poker. I like the ebb and flow, it's lack of constancy and certainty. It's about luck + skill, the controllable and the uncontrollable. But most of all I like how I can be myself. I don't have to be "nice"; civil, yes, but not nice. In fact it often pays more when I'm not nice.

So on the one hand, I want to win. (I was joking to Hunny Bunny about funding my retirement with poker; in retrospect it's probably the only avenue left for my later years if I wish to avoid eating cat food. Remember that fable about the grasshopper and the ant? Well, guess who's the grasshopper.) In order to win, I need to study the game better and brush off my rusty math skills. Which, to my lazy mind, sounds dangerously like work.

But on the other, I need poker. OK, maybe not NEED, that sounds ominously like a problem that can only be fixed by a 12-step programme. Playing poker keeps my mind engaged, makes me not only question myself and my actions but forces me to look at the answers. It's proven to be cheaper than therapy.

So, watch me as I walk the fine line between improving my poker game in a more serious manner, and making it so much of an drudge endeavor I lose interest. Between making it work (verb) and making it WORK (noun).

5 Responses to “A moment of truth”

  1. # Blogger Jules

    Oh dear..sounds like you've come to the big realization that to really, really enjoy the game in the long term, you need to master it. I'm EXACTLY as lazy, etc. as you are - but I can tell you that poker "study" can be almost as much fun. READ The Little Green Book (as a starting point), watch the High Stakes Poker videos (great for watching betting styles change) and move on from there.

    Start reading Poker books in the bath - that way you get to combine your hedonistic pleasures.

    BTW, I fully expect you to start kicking my ass on our first trip to the NL tables at Fallsview.  

  2. # Blogger katitude

    Umm, no, I'm saying to make money in the long term I need to master the game. I already really, really enjoy it *grin.

    And yes, I will kick your ass ;-)  

  3. # Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo

    Hey Kat, great post.
    I agree with you 100% about the not letting poker become work thing. It is exactly my outlook on the game. I play because I love it, and I wouldn't play if something made me not love the game anymore.

    But as I do take poker very seriously, and I can tell you do too (you certainly enjoy winning at least as much as the next guy or gal, I am surprised that you haven't really read anything. If that makes it work (noun) for you, then I guess that's a good reason why, but for me, I love poker and I love reading a good poker book.

    A couple of quick recommendations if you're looking for anything: you read Harrington on Holdem volumes 1 and 2, and read the original Super System Hold'em sections, and nothing else, you'll be way ahead of the game with the start you already have. And you can read them over time, like in the bath like Jules suggested. It should be enjoyable for you because you're interested in the game and you're helping your game get better.

    OK see you tonight at DADI. Here's hoping you're on my immediate left at the first table.  

  4. # Blogger iamhoff


    That is the fine line to walk with any activity undertaken initially for pleasure/amusement/hobby/etc. How to keep it fun without becoming a pain in the ass. I fully agree with hoyazo and jules, start reading the books. They're really not as dry as typical textbooks are, for a couple of reasons. First, obviously, the subject matter. You admit that you "really really really enjoy" poker. Therefore, reading about poker theoretically shouldn't be work. Second, the books are structured so as to be relatively interesting. Because poker is studied to apply it (as opposed to simply discussing theory), the authors tend to include lots of actual hands/situations as examples. Harrington in particular does a really good job of mixing up the how and why with actual tournament scenarios...good stuff. See ya at the DADI tonight.  

  5. # Blogger Matt Silverthorn

    I second Hoyazo's recommendation for Harrington's two volumes. They are invaluable and a very easy read.  

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