Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Thursday, June 01, 2006

To Felicia, on Psychology

I’m not there yet, Felicia.

I’m not emotionally dead enough. I still get excited when I win, and losing still feels like getting kicked in the guts. In an hour or so, I’ll be able to rationalize away the sick feeling by the knowledge that in all four major losing hands tonight, I really did get my money in the middle with the best hand. I want aggro-donkeys calling me (and re-raising me) with garbage hands and then catching their 2-outer to crush my stack, and by extension, soul.

I think, by the way, that it’s a compensatory thing, why men need to have big stacks of chips to feel comfortable at the table. Except Bobby Bracelet, most of us have certain inadequacies we’re trying to cover up at the table, and that’s why we get so overwrought when someone takes away part of our stack. Especially a woman. Losing one or more towers of chips to a woman evokes unpleasant Lorena Bobbitt connotations. But I digress (not much new there).

But after a few set over set and boat over boat losses, my neck muscles are knotted up, I feel the beginnings of a headache forming, there’s a churning in the pit of my stomach that I know Alka-Seltzer won’t help, and I really, really want to break my mouse. But I don’t. Because not only is that immature and stupid, but I use a kinda expensive trackball and that could get pricey after a while. And I need all the ready cash I can muster to keep paying off morons who catch things they should never have been chasing in the first place.

I know that in a half an hour I’ll feel better. Maybe even sooner than that. I may indeed hustle over to micro-limit donkey O8 and throw away a full $5 buy-in chasing everything in the free world just to banish the visions of donkeys with fangs chopping off parts of my prodigious stack with kitchen knives. Or maybe I’ll just play this silly little $10 MTT $1K guarantee on WPX, ‘cause even at only needing 100 people to cover, there’s a 20+ person overlay with 2 minutes to go.

But that whole emotionally dead thing? I’m trying. I realize that it would be a good trait to have. But I’m just not quite there yet. There’s not quite “just chips” yet. Maybe once my entire Vegas roll is squared away for the summer, they’ll be “just chips.” Or maybe I want to keep just a hint of protectiveness of my cash, and just a little of that attitude you talked about folks like Barry Greenstein having; that unwillingness to stand up a loser after a session. I’m no Barry G., I’m neither as smart or as generous. But I’m pretty damn hard-headed, and maybe I can harness that a little more easily than I can fine-tune true deadpan.

Anyway, thanks for the psychology posts. I read them all, try to absorb some things and ignore others. Isn’t that kinda the point of all of us throwing our stuff out here into the interweb anyway? We’re all kinda yelling out to the world “Here I am! Take me or leave me, but here I am!”


Felicia :) said...

Great post. Thank you.

You know, I find myself more introspective and honest after losing, as opposed to winning.

If there is one thing you can take comfort in, it is that you have the time to carefully review your play after heartbreaking losses to better your game. Used wisely, this time is invaluable, and rarely do players have that sort of introspection when they're running good.

Sometimes as a gag on things Sklansky has said in the past (very wise things, I might add), when we get our money in with the best of it, yet the pot gets pushed to someone else anyway, we add up our Sklansky bucks, or virtual wins. It doesn't make it great, but it kind of dulls the pain a little bit to make fun of losing so many hands that theoretically had little chance of getting outdrawn.

As far the the psychological effects of a "big stack," that is something I've talked about so many times in my journal that I have talked myself sick, lol. I repeat things over and over again, and then finally it "clicks" for someone else a year or two later ;)

I think another way to lessen the blow of a longshot beat is to imagine the worst beat you have ever heard of (Glenn's flopped quads to runner runner straight flush would be a good example), and then ask yourself, "Was this beat as bad as that one? A 330:1 shot?"

Being emotionally dead is a hindrance as well as an aide. It must be tempered. You have to feel those stings in order to be a better player than I'll ever be.

Both Ted and Barry have told me many times that I'm not cut out for a WCP future. Although maybe this wasn't what I wanted to hear at the time, I am so emotionally dead that it didn't even bother me much. This is NOT a good thing.

For further reading, think about checking out Dr. Al's book, Psychology of Poker. Dr. Feeney's book, Inside the Poker Mind, and maybe even Killer Poker.

Falstaff said...

Thanks, Felicia. I've been thinking about getting Killer Poker for a while now, I'll check out the others as well. Good comments. I love the concept of "Sklansky Bucks," maybe I'll print some on my 'puter to give myself whenever I get smacked down.