What I'm Reading

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"I collect a little thing called money; perhaps you've heard of it?"

I just got back from the beach with Arielle and her family. I haven't been in a couple years, and it was a blast. I got to go jet skiing and sailing for the first time, kayaking in the ocean, and maybe more than anything else, the opportunity to get away from everything and just hang out with her for a while.

I did some reading/audiobook listening, and finally picked up the Godfather again and finished it. I found a line in there that I really liked: "Nothing was more calming, more conducive to pure reason, than the atmosphere of money." And so, everything just comes back to cards.

Right now, I'm listening to the audiobook of Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. For those of you who have read Blink, it's by the same guy, and like that book, can also be somewhat applied to poker, in indirect terms.

The book is about how certain trends become epidemics; how one small change can spark humongous ones somewhere in the future.

In poker terms, what this means is that it's possible that there is one minor change one could make in their game, that could turn a losing player into a winning one, a winning player into a pro-level player, and a surviving pro into a juggernaut.

When you think about it, it kind of makes sense. Look at how quickly people like sbrugby and CTS climbed through the low limit cash games to become two of the best NL cash game players in the world-- both before reaching the age of 25 (in CTS's case, I'm pretty sure he's not even 21 yet...)

An online tournament player who might demonstrate a poker "tipping point" would be SCTrojans-- the triple triple crown (not a typo) winner. In a recent pocketfives podcast, SCTrojans stated that, in his opinion, there are likely many low limit players who could probably play the game as fundamentally well as many of the "big name" online pros. They just don't have the mindset, patience, or heart, to succeed and fly up the ranks.

I feel like I've studied the fundamentals of the game far more than the average player. When I play my A game, I know that at the limits that I play, I can't be beaten unless I get unlucky.

So why haven't I moved up?

I'm still looking for my tipping point. I will go through weeks, or even months, where I feel like I'm unstoppable. And then just as suddenly, nothing will go right for me, and my play will deteriorate.

I will have days where I will sit down and dread the possibility of having to play a big pot, regardless of my hand. I will flop strong hands and not play them fast enough in fear of getting raised. I won't make the thin river value bet, out of fear of being check-raised. I can luck out and manage to pull winner, slightly, and then tighten up trying to ensure myself a small victory.

These days are rare, but they still exist. My "tipping point" will come sometime when I can stop playing on these days. Sometimes I can sit with confidence that I'm going to play great, but also know that sometimes shit'll happen and I'll drop a few buy-ins. I need days like that to come every time I sit down to play.

I'm not sure how to make that happen. I don't think anyone can know-- it will vary from person to person, and if there was a definite, tangible answer, someone would've found it by now, and we'd all be high stakes players. This isn't possible, nor should it be.

Consciously, I can make the decision to not play when I'm not fully prepared to play my best, and be ready to lose. I've been getting better at quitting after losing a big pot in order to keep from tilting off a buy-in or four. Are these the changes that it'll take to make me a better player? Maybe. I'm not sure, but hopefully they'll help.


Ryan said...

this is a really good post...i know i've felt like this before and i've also been similarly afflicted by the same fear that you described.

doylefish said...

nice one Nick.

yeh, I have Blink on audiobook too. Great stuff, and a lot of poker related concepts.

havent read Tipping Point yet, but plan too. I think I recently went over a small tipping point.

Loretta8 said...

great post Fulton

Buzz said...

Agreed top post Nick. I hope you find that something soon that will make the difference.