Friday, December 22, 2006

Why I Blog

Brief prelude to the post at hand…

Had an almost great time last night hosting what was probably my final home game for the year.  We had a full table of ten for most of the night, getting a bunch of locals and even one out of town blogger to stop by.  We exchanged dial-a-call-my-money-off’s with TheRooster, text-message-a-shots with the Good Doctor, and simulated posedowns with his brother.

If I didn’t have to fold all night, it would have been a blast.


As I look back upon this year, it’s easy to claim progress in the world of poker.  Profit is higher, for the most part I play a better game than I did last year, and there’s no real reason to think that I can’t continue to make more improvements in ’07.

But, as I often do, I go back a year with this blog and read entries that I wrote in an attempt to determine how my mindset has changed over the previous 12 months.  Some entries are “interesting” with respect to strategy and I laugh at myself for thinking what I thought way back when.

Yet other entries are bothersome.  Not because of their content, but because they are eerily familiar with entries I’ve hesitated to make this year.  The posts I make during downswings are exactly the same thoughts I had a year ago during similar downswings.

And that’s not progress.

It’s that martyrdom creeping into my thoughts.  The “why me” attitude when the suckouts hit.  The “I deserved to win” mentality that’s wholly inappropriate for a truly accomplished player.

I’m dissatisfied with myself for not overcoming that predictable mental state.  I’m bothered by being bothered, if that makes sense.  To me, the Holy Grail of Poker is being able to make the right decision every time, to not allow stray thoughts into your mind such that it corrupts you from making the correct analysis.  Whether you’re winning, losing, or folding the night away, the right decision is still the right decision.  You just have to be able to get to it.  But sometimes, external, unrelated thoughts get in the way.  That’s what I need to eliminate.

The ironic part of all the above is that even if you succeed, you may still lose.  Poker players need to understand that.  They need to know that being right is not always rewarded.  That fundamental concept goes against everything we’re taught as we grow up.  Whether it’s a parent or a teacher or anyone else, we’ve been conditioned to believe that being right and doing the right thing earn their just rewards.  But not in poker.  For me, that’s so hard to overcome, as the need to be “right” is one of my personality flaws.  The negative feedback of losing to the stimulus of making the correct decision is almost abusive in nature to those conditioned to expect the opposite.  This game has proven to be psychological warfare, and I’m waging the war against myself.  I’m often left wondering if it’s a battle I can win.


Certainly, the best part of this blog has been the people I’ve met because of it. The other important part is being able to go back in time and see where I was on this long journey into the realm of poker.  I can’t really see with any clarity where the trip is taking me, but thanks to chronicling my journey, I can at least see where I’ve been.

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