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March 26 2012 ,
by Matthew J-B

What makes me tilt? Traditionally, ‘bad beats’ make people tilt. I can safely say this doesn’t affect me; I pay no attention to beats whatsoever. It’s not the winning and losing, it’s the decision making. It’s losing EV where I consider it to be my fault. Not getting coolered, this doesn’t affect me either, it’s when the onus was on me and I didn’t step up. I think not being aggressive enough, when aggression would otherwise be optimal, is possibly at the top, followed closely behind by paying someone off when really it was a fold. This last point is interesting as making a fold in that spot can actually snap me out of tilt and can give me a buzz that I’m playing good, or just heighten my senses when I’m playing good anyway.

There are forms of tilt, playing too loose or too tight, playing too aggressive or too passive. My form of tilt is definitely displaying a lack of patience. It is infuriating when reviewing a session to see my results were, for example, break even EV but I can see $200 worth of lack of patience, or worse, the results were -$200 EV but I can spot $300 that I didn’t need to give away. All of these sessions are absolutely just as critical as the ones that end +$700 EV or whatever. These need protecting and greater pride is required to only lose the minimum. Conversely, when I feel good about my play I take great pleasure to end a tough session, in terms of card distribution, and see I’m +$100 EV but can remember several bad spots I got away from. What me and my good poker buddy Dan Willis always say during a hard session is, “my time will come…”, it will always come, patience is the game and it WILL be my time to get paid. The skill is to make sure you are dotted about the break even mark to ensure you profit from it and it is not just making up losses that you have donked-off.

What has made me write about tilt? That’s easy, I ended a session yesterday at -$500 EV and was super-tilted. Having just reviewed the session I counted something like $1,300 of donked-off, impatient losses, in EV. That’s enormous, what I’m saying to myself is it could have been a fantastic eight-buy-in upswing in EV but the reality from what should’ve been is that I have had a thirteen-buy-in downswing of bad play. Must-do-better springs to mind.

Let’s look at what set me off… firstly, as is always the case with a poor decision, there was something else on my mind: Having recently upgraded my Hold’em Manager 1 to Hold’em Manager 2 I was trying to figure out why I couldn’t see my Active Session details in the said tab, it wouldn’t update, I couldn’t click ‘Refresh’ but it was tracking hands in my HUD. So, instead of sitting out, I was messing about trying to fix the problem whilst still 8-tabling. So I’m a little agitated as I just want it to work properly. So, the bad decision, it happened in a $0.5-1 Deep-Ante game with a stack size of $200. I squeezed an opener and his one caller from the SB holding 6d3d and got cold-called by the BB which then brings along the other two players. Although the 6d3d is far from being a strong hand, and something I fold in this spot with a usual regularity, it’s not such a bad spot I’m in here, I’m in a four-way $60 pot with a draw-heavy hand. I approach the flop hoping to flop huge or at least something funky. The board comes (Tc Ad 7d) so I have a flush draw only but figure I’ve shown strength so if I want to continue I should bet, which I do about $35 or so. The cold-caller in the BB calls and the other two fold. The turn comes a 3c giving me a pair, so we have a pot size of $130-ish and our villain has a stack size of $140-ish. I think this is a shove; I look so strong considering this is a deep game. Taking analysis of a cold-call in-position, then only a call on the flop I think his range here is AQs, AQo, KdQd, KdJd, and QdJd. I haven’t included AA, TT, 77, AK, or suited Tens as I think these are raises really on the flop. So against that turn range PokerStove gives me 37.6% equity but to be honest I think they all fold most of the time. Anyway, I check and that is what tilted me! The result is that he checks back so there is a good chance this then removes AQs and AQo from his range, the river comes the 4d completing my flush and I ship it, but really I knew at the time that I should do so holding my breath and he snaps me off with the Kd9d and I’m left fuming with how I played it.

Let’s just finish with side factors which really hinder my decision making:
1. Something else on my mind
2. Something else I should be doing
3. Having a pre-set time to finish and clock watching
4. Routinely logging on and playing instead of thinking ‘is this a good time to play?’
5. Not composing myself and ‘getting in the zone’ before playing
6. Tired
7. Needing to go to the toilet
8. Interruptions

So… let’s write this one off. Let’s have composed; relaxed; patient; disciplined; considerate decision making from now on. Good luck at the tables!

One Response leave one
  1. 1debo1 permalink
    March 30, 2012

    When written down it looks so simple!!! Implementing said principles is another thing all together!!

    This stuff is all gospel and should form the basis of any session I reckon.

    I think the following sums me up:

    I want to play poker all the time therefore:

    1. I play poker pretty much everyday by squeezing in small sessions
    2. I play when I’m tired
    3. I play when I really need to do other things

    I’ve come to the conclusion (Its a very simple one that seems to have got lost somewhere whilist working 7 days a week scaffolding, spending time with my girlfriend and spending time with friends and family) that 7 sessions a week of sub-optimal poker are equal in profit or even less than 2, 3 or 4 seesions of optimal poker.

    Therefore my new goal (inspired by the air marshall himself!) is to play less sesssions of poker per week but at a far more optimal rate as I will not be playing under the conditions mentioned before. I WILL be fresh and in the zone and also have more time to do other things, other than grind online, as my winrate will be so sick that 1 hour a week of super-optimal poker will have me playing Isildur1 at 500/1000 by the end of the year!!!

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