Raise or Fold:  A Year of Risky Business

Writing and playing poker as if they were activities worth doing well.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

2100+ Precious Unique Snowflakes

That's how many separate and distinct visitors I've had to Raise or Fold since I started tracking such things in February using Google Analytics. Y'all are visiting from 31 different countries, although the vast majority of my traffic comes from Washington D.C., New York, California, and Nevada in the U.S. Half of you have visited somewhere between 9 and 100 times, which ~ frankly ~ completely boggles my mind.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Poker Grump for pointing so many of you in my direction. The rest of you seem to be stumbling upon this site through Google or other poker blogs. However you arrive, you are most welcome here.

All I can say is: thank you for reading. I value your interest and your comments more than you can imagine. Poker is a solitary business undertaken in a social setting. It is nice for me to know that, in one sense anyway, I'm not entirely on my own.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A W is a W

It may be a small win, but it's a win.

I didn't cash in my A League tournament, but I did manage to grind out a small profit at the Crime Scene Game. This was mostly courtesy of finally getting value from some big hands that, mirabile dictu!, didn't get destroyed on the river.

Now I only have to do that about twenty times and I'll be back where I started before going to Vegas. Yay.

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Doyle Should Know

What people don’t seem to understand is that there is much more than talent and knowledge that is required to be a great poker player. You have to be able to handle adversity without going off the deep end. You have to have the character to handle the pitfalls of life. Also there is the ability to implement the things you do know. That is probably the biggest difference between good poker players and great poker players. ~ Doyle Brunson, on his blog.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Mystery Player

The Grump's HORSE tournament is now history. As is my usual style, I went out on the bubble. (I am, in fact, bubblicious). I was intrigued, however, that the final table boasted what appeared to be two other players from my area. One, NewinNov of Alexandria, I recognized. The other, BitterPill1 (whose location was listed as "Washington"), I did not.

I racked my brain trying to come up with a likely suspect, especially after BitterPill1 gave me the "Hey Sis" high-sign that only a reader of this blog would know.

Someone local, who plays limit games... if it's someone I've played with live, that narrows the field pretty substantially; BitterPill1 did not, however, respond to any of the names I threw out there. If it's NOT someone local, that seemingly leaves only one (very unlikely, but very cool) possibility. BitterPill1 finished second, behind an opponent (Sauza 262) who caught cards something fierce at the final table and heads-up. I think we can safely say that BitterPill1 has skillz.

Perhaps BP1 will take pity on my inquiring mind and lift the veil for me, privately (confidentiality guaranteed). You know how to reach me!


Gitty-up with the Grump

This evening the Poker Grump is hosting a private HORSE tournament on Pokerstars. The buy-in is a measly $10. Come play with the folks you've been reading about: you know you want to!
Learn all about it here.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rubberneck or Avert Your Eyes

There are two common and very human responses to witnessing something bad happening in other people's lives. The first is a kind of involuntary voyeuristic fascination; this universally causes traffic jams everywhere there is vehicular transportation. The second is an instinctive turning away, or distancing; we don't want to catch the contagious disease, or associate with the weak member of the herd lest the predator focus on us as well.

I have witnessed both reactions in response to my recent lack of success. Some people just can't get enough of it: the thrill of schadenfreude is just too, too delicious. Others' immediate response is to point out all the ways in which I am doing something wrong and, by implication, how I am NOT LIKE THEM, NOT ONE BIT. In both cases, I think there's actually an underlying similarity.
"I'm struggling too. It's not my fault either. See, other players have the same difficulties, or worse, as me! No one ever really succeeds at this game anyway, unless they're really, really lucky. Her bad results just go to show that I'm not that bad myself."

"I'm doing fine. If someone else is having a hard time, it's because she isn't as good as I am, or because her attitude is all wrong, or because she isn't working at it enough."
I suspect that an individual's attitude toward others' success or failure in poker (or indeed any competitive undertaking) is primarily reflective of his own approach to the game and his own current state of success or failure. I'm not proud of it, but I know that mine often is, if I am not sufficiently introspective about it—which apparently is more often the case than I'd prefer.

There is, to be fair, a third response that can be just as reflexive for some: the urge to offer substantive help, support, or even just sympathy and companionship through the difficulty. Some people are genuinely able to offer useful guidance or comfort uncolored by either overt or unconscious feelings of superiority or just simple delight at not being in the other's predicament. Having been the lucky recipient of this sort of attention as well as the others, I can tell you that it is a relatively rare and lovely gift. Often the giver of that gift is someone who has survived the same challenge, and is thereby endowed with the direct experience of how it can best and most gracefully be overcome, as well as what kind of aid is actually useful and meaningful.

I think running bad is a little like getting lung cancer when you're a non-smoker. It happens; you didn't do anything specific to bring it on, but people keep asking you if you did. Everyone has advice on how to get better, but few of them will hold your hand (or your forehead) while you go through chemo. A lot of people will just disappear from your life, or avoid talking about "it" altogether, as if your daily routine were continuing as normal otherwise and you ought to be able to compartmentalize, for everyone else's sake as much as your own. But some of them, often cancer survivors themselves, will offer sound, practical advice on diet and exercise, recommend good physicians, listen to you vent without judgment (as, if they were lucky, others did for them), and offer strategies for coping with the rest of your life while you're ill. When you are in remission, they will celebrate with you and also help you find equanimity in the face of the possibility of recurrence.

If you are fortunate, you will actually emerge from the illness stronger, more self-aware, with better habits for maintaining your well-being and a keener understanding of what is and isn't within your control. And if you are truly blessed, you will have learned how to live well even under the most adverse circumstances.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

The Pain

I busted out of my WSOP subscription series tonight with QQ running into AA. I've replayed the hand in my head over and over, and I don't honestly see what I could have done differently.

The fact that I got slowrolled (no way the AA was laying down to my shove, we were heads up, and yet he hemmed and hawed and finally said, "I have to call you" with apparent great reluctance) by someone who has slowrolled me before (that time his QQ flopped a set to beat my AA) didn't help. His penchant for drama at other people's expense is truly obnoxious. Just call in a timely fashion and show me the bad news, dude.

When you cry tears of frustration on the ride home, that's probably a clue that you ought to give it a rest for awhile. I will not be playing poker live for several days, probably until Tuesday.

I'm here to testify, however, that knowing you did your best is just not enough to make the pain go away when you are getting smacked over and over. I cannot imagine EVER running good enough to counterbalance this crap.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Me & Sig & Roy & Lion
I arrived home this morning on the red-eye in a state of total exhaustion. Mentally, physically, emotionally: I got nuthin'. This last week in Las Vegas has put me severely to the test, and ~ honestly ~ the results are not so pretty.

Here is a quick rundown of the highlights (the good stuff):
  1. Dinner with the bloggerati. Mentioned in my previous post.

  2. Hanging out with B.W.o.P. CK very kindly spent some time talking with me about life in Vegas and also introduced me to the O8 game at the Orleans.

  3. Playing poker with Cory Zeidman. The Grump describes the scene quite well. What he doesn't mention is that Cory and I played two hands together and chopped them both. In the second hand, I had Fido (K9), and flopped trips. Plenty 'o betting with banter. Turn was an Ace, River was an Ace. Cory showed 8 9 off. He cashed out shortly after and I asked if he would very kindly let me just win one outright next time we played together. He promised he would.

  4. Playing poker with Jamie Gold. I had been sitting in the Venetian Deepstack Sunday game for about an hour and a half when an unkempt, unshaven, dirty-fingernailed Jamie sat down three seats to my left. He was perfectly pleasant to everyone, and received the constant attentions of one of the massage therapists the entire time he was at the table. I took his big blind one time, but that was it. His game was utterly unremarkable and he busted out in about another hour and a half. He seemed awfully nice, but also the very picture of a poker degenerate. A few minutes after he went broke in the tournament I heard the name "Gold" called for a new 10/20 NL table in the Salon.

  5. Being a tourist and doing touristy things. For example, I saw the Treasure Island sirens & pirates show, which is about as silly and pointless as you could possibly ask for. The Grump was seeing it for the first time too (after three years in Vegas), which gives you an idea of just how much of a can't-miss it really is. As evidenced above, I also had my picture taken in a goofy way, which is pretty much de rigueur for a tourist, right? I played mini-golf. I saw a bad lightshow at the Fremont Street Experience (it was basically an extended commercial for LG). I visited Binions, but did not see the eponymous golden nugget across the way. Oh well, gotta leave something for the next visit.

  6. Getting my hotel completely comped again. That this was a such a thrill should give you some notion of how much of a trainwreck financially the rest of my trip was.

The bad stuff:
  • Only two profitable cash sessions, and those barely.

  • Three quite expensive tournament blanks.

  • At least three really dubious decisions for a lot of money, when I should have known better.

  • A growing sense of fatalism about my lack of success. (I knew when I was all in with my KK that I was up against AA. When my all in AA went down to 33, I just shrugged and mentally kicked the penguin on the way out.)

  • A sensation of dread about my impending month in Las Vegas. I no longer know whether I'm running bad or I am bad. I do know that I took another big hit to the bankroll, and will have to spend all of May rebuilding, just as I spent all of March rebuilding from February's trip. This does not bode well for my notion of being able to survive on poker in Las Vegas.

I saw a bit of Las Vegas beyond the Strip, and was brought face-to-face with the reality that it is fundamentally a desert wasteland with a car-dependent monoculture pasted down on top of it. During June I will hope to explore a bit more, to see if there are any signs of life and creativity to be found elsewhere in the city.

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Friday, April 17, 2009


Just a few quick notes before either 1) the WORTHLESS wifi in my hotel room craps out again or 2) I pass out from exhaustion and wake up with keyboard indentations in my face.

For the first time in my visit, Vegas was actually warm and sunny today. Rather nice, in fact. I was outside in it for all of about ten minutes as I walked from Harrah's to Bally's.

I played my first live game of Omaha Hi/Lo tonight. It was fun, but I didn't do especially well.

So far, I have not been making any money with the hold'em, either. On Thursday, I busted out of my first Deepstack tourney by misplaying AK. The cash games have mostly been an exercise in frustration. (OOooo the bad beat story I could tell from this evening, if I were allowed to do that.) Anywho, I'm once again at that place where I sincerely question my ability to play the game at all. Perhaps I should just hang it up.

That is not going to stop me from signing up for the Saturday Deepstack event, with its luscious one-hour blind levels. It is, however, beginning to feel like a do-or-die proposition for me. (No pressure!)

The social side of the trip has been far more rewarding. I very much enjoyed the dinner I shared with the Grump, F-Train, CK the BWoP, Short-stacked Shamus and his lovely Vera. Getting to know the people behind the blogs has been a pleasure.

I am trying to remind myself that if it weren't for poker I wouldn't have met any of these charming people, and that I should be grateful for that at least. It doesn't change the fact that I really, really, really need to take a hard look at my game. No one with the results I've been having for the last several months should even *think* about trying to earn a living playing cards.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Pre-Travel Travails

Well, there's the taxes. Everyone loves doing them, I know. I always leave them to absolutely the last minute, to ensure maximum stress and anxiety. And then there's the mad scramble for the documentation, etc. It's totally pathological, and I'm embarrassed to death by it, but there you go.

I actually like traveling, especially when the destination is one I'm actually anticipating that I will enjoy. What I don't like is the 48 hours or so before I travel. Mentally, I'm already THERE. That makes every little thing I have to do HERE a giant pain in the patootie (e.g., doing the taxes becomes 10x as unpleasant, if you can imagine that). Washing the dishes becomes horrendously miserable. Writing the note for the paper delivery person is an enormous burden. Hell, figuring out what to wear today (i.e., stuff I don't want to pack for the trip) is aggravating. The basic problem ~ that I'm still HERE instead of THERE ~ is completely insurmountable, and yet I manage to let it irritate me. This is utterly irrational, and you'd think that a person who'd spent a significant fraction of her life in various meditation practices would be able to rise above it.


I am still HERE, and I have these annoying tasks to accomplish and decisions (mostly minor) that have to be made, and it making me a cranky Cardgrrl. Expect little to no bloggage until I'm actually THERE; in practical terms that likely means Wednesday.

[Post Scriptum: Please don't forget to greet me with "Hey, Sis!" if you wish to make yourself known to me at the poker table.]

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Pause in the Program

I was touched this morning by Doyle Brunson's comments after attending the funeral of Casey Reese, son of the late great Chip Reese:
Everybody should have the privilege of growing old. I feel really lucky to have my hair start to turn gray and to have life experiences forever etched in deep wrinkles and grooves in my face. My heart has been broken but that is what gives us strength, understanding and compassion. So, as I get older, I care less what people think because if I’m wrong, I’ve earned the right to be wrong. And believe me, I’ve earned every gray hair and every wrinkle I’ve got.... I intend to spend my remaining time doing what I want and I intend to tell my family how much I love them every day.
I'm not as big a fan of wrinkles and grooves as Doyle (although I think Wrinkle & Groove would make an awesome band name), but do find that as I get older I am less and less worried about the unsolicited opinions of others and more and more interested in the lines of love that connect me to the people in my life.

Heartbreak is the price of love, and it is a price worth paying.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Poker Laughs (3)

I just assume that everyone reads Dr. Pauly. But for those of us who play Razz (and what masochistic poker player does not?), or who have ever written a haiku (and who among us has not?), today was a special day. Check it out.

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More on Money

There are a whole raft of interesting studies on the psychology of money, many of which have interesting implications for poker players.
The value of £100 is supposed to lie in how much beer or fuel it can purchase and nothing else. You should care no more about being short-changed £5 at the supermarket checkout than losing the same amount when borrowing money to buy a £300,000 house. Similarly, you should value £10 in loose change the same as £10 in your bank account that you've mentally set aside for your niece's birthday.

In reality we are not that rational. Instead of treating cash simply as a tool to be wielded with objective precision, we allow money to reach inside our heads and tap into the ancient emotional parts of our brain, often with unpredictable results.
Read more here.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Q and A: What Are Your Goals and What Are You Willing To Do To Achieve Them?

Faithful reader Anonymous asks:
Would you be willing to move to succeed? Would you be willing to get a job flipping burgers just to increase your bankroll? Would you sell your car to take a shot at a main event? Think about it. Also, what are your goals? A grinder (like Rakewell) or do you aspire to be the next Jennifer Harmon?
To which I answer:

1) Moving is the big thorny question for me. I'll know I've chosen to go ahead full-throttle as a poker player when I decide to move. It is absolutely the case that I'm not there yet.

2) "Flipping burgers?" That would be a very long, tedious, and inefficient way to build my bankroll. I am quite sure that I could build my bankroll faster playing poker than flipping burgers. And if I need full-time employment, I have to believe that ~ even in a recession ~ I could find a job that pays significantly better than burger-flipping, and is at least somewhat more interesting.

3) No. That would be really, really foolish bankroll management. Even for the most skilled players on the planet, a seat in the main event is a 1/8000 lottery ticket. Besides, my car isn't worth 10K, and I might need it to get to my burger-flipping job. :P

4) I do not aspire to be the next Jennifer Harmon. I will never be an elite tier poker player: I simply don't have the combination of personal attributes that would make that possible. I would, however, be very pleased to be a mid-stakes cash grinder and/or a modestly successful tournament player. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am perfectly content with a low-overhead lifestyle. I would be delighted beyond words to get some kind of sponsorship deal. I would be thrilled to have a degree of success that would increase publisher interest in the book I'm writing. My ambition, while not neglible, is hardly outsized.

Faithful reader Loose proposes that I quiz myself, as follows:
Ask yourself "what have I learned in the last 6 months?", "Am I a better player then when I started?", "Have I acquired the skills necessary at my current level to be a long term winner?", and the most import question of them all, "Where will my income come from? (Atlantic City, The Crime scene Game, One big mtt score a year, LasVegas)
To which I respond:

1) I have learned a lot, some of which I've documented in this blog, but much or most of which I have not. I've studied books and forums, I've reviewed my own play to identify strength and weaknesses, and I've talked strategy with people who I think know more than I do. A great deal of what I've learned has been about poker, and even more has been about myself. It is also clear to me that the learning never ends, and I am well aware that I have to continue actively acquiring knowledge, skills, and experience.

2) I am definitely a better player now than when I began this project. I'm also a better player than I was last year, and a much, much better player than I was two years ago.

3) I don't know whether I've acquired the skills at this level to be a long term winner. I don't have a "long term" valid sample-size of results. During the time I've been keeping records, I am definitely a winning player. Am I ENOUGH of a winning player to live off my poker income? I don't know that yet, either.

4) My income won't come from Atlantic City because it's a big fat zero of a city and no amount of money on earth could induce me to live there. My income won't be earned at the CSG or other equivalents locally because the stakes are too small and the games too infrequent. (That's assuming that I can actually beat the CSG in the long run ~ recent results notwithstanding.) If I'm going to do this full-time for a living, I'm going to have to move to Las Vegas, with its vaunted 55 (give or take) cardrooms and plentiful MTTs. My data currently shows that I am most profitable playing tournaments. It remains to be seen whether that will hold true for higher-stakes, larger-field tourneys. My next trip to Sin City (next week!) will put that question to the test once again.

I will add that I disagree with two of Loose's other observations. Loose says that I have done NONE of the things I could do were I committed to being a pro. I have certainly not done ALL of the things I could do, but I think I have taken many small but important steps to lay the foundation for such a choice. Loose also opines that I am "comfortable in my current situation." That is absolutely, positively not the case. The "current situation" is not tenable for the long haul, nor would I wish it to be; sooner or later I will have to fish or cut bait (wait a sec... there's a better phrase to use here... um... oh yeah! "raise or fold").

As always, I welcome your questions and comments. I am continually struck by the variety of approaches, attitudes, and tones of voice with which people choose to communicate, and I find something valuable and interesting in them all. Thank you for being engaged readers!

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Monday, April 6, 2009


Recently, I had been running bad.

(Say it in a chorus with me, people: “Boo-hoo, you poor grrl, life sucks and then you die, go tell it to your mama.” I am well aware that no one really wants to hear it. Hell, even I don’t want to hear it.)

The most frustrating component of it had been getting crushed in games where I legitimately believe I have an edge, where in fact my past record shows that I have an edge, and where I don’t believe I’ve done anything meaningfully worse to produce such disproportionately bad results. In fact, the only thing that had really declined over the last month was my attitude.

I experienced frustration, resentment, a foiled sense of entitlement, aggravation, irritation, impatience, and a stubborn unwillingness to revisit my own behavior in the light of current conditions. This is hardly the posture of serene equanimity that I aspire to. Just look at that list; that list is a summary description of someone on LIFE TILT.

Now let’s consider that previous observation again: the only thing that had really declined over the last month was my attitude.

“The only thing???“

Once the basics are covered (fundamentals of strategy, people reading, mechanics, math), attitude is not the only thing, it’s everything.

I was faced with the prospect of two tournaments, one right after another on sequential evenings, that I really wanted to win. On some level, I also felt that I needed to win them. For better or worse (mostly ‘worse,’ obviously), I was pinning some of my self-esteem to the outcome of these two games. This is not a healthy attitude in general, and it’s especially stupid for a poker player, since—realistically speaking—so much of the outcome of any two games is contingent upon chance.

In preparing for the first of the two games, I identified (in addition to the emotional errors listed above) another factor that I felt was missing in my approach to poker lately. I lacked commitment. I was blaming my failures on everything and anything under the sun; I felt cursed, snakebit, gunshy, doomed. On some level I had already given up on bringing my A game, since it hadn’t done me a bit of good for the last six weeks or so. I had all the safety-net excuses in place for my forthcoming failure.

You know how you can tell that someone’s diet isn’t going to work?
They say, “I’m trying to lose weight.”

You know how you can tell that someone isn’t going to manage to give up cigarettes?
They say, “I’m trying to quit smoking.”

You know how you can tell when someone is just one cocktail away from returning to alcoholic behavior?
They say, “I’m trying to stop drinking.”

The people who succeed at their goals say things like:
“I want to be slimmer. I choose to follow this regimen of diet and exercise today.”

“I want to be a non-smoker. I choose to not light up a cigarette today.”

“I want to live a life free of alcohol. I choose to not take a drink today.”
The equivalent for me:
“I want to be a winning poker-player. I choose to make the best possible decisions I know how at the table today.”
These are statements of commitment, and the actions they predicate are not something subject to material failure (e.g., attempting 13 reps in weightlifting and only being able to do 12). These are behavioral decisions that are totally under the control of sane sentient agents. To quote a famous pop-culture sage: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

I brought that frame of mind to the first tournament and won it. I brought that frame of mind to the second tournament and won it. And the following night, I brought that frame of mind to the cash game I’d been losing at for weeks and walked away with a profit.

Coincidence? On some level: of course. I could just have easily lost in all three locations, attitude and all. But in another sense: no. When I make the best decisions I know how, I put myself in the best possible position to win; in fact, because I actually know how to make good decisions, I will win more often. I become the kind of person I have declared I want to be by behaving the way such a person behaves. It is not some supernatural woo-woo Law of Attraction new age bullshit. It is the way human reality functions.

Okay, let’s take this notion of the importance of commitment and widen the perspective a little bit.

When I started my year-long experiment exploring my potential as a poker-player and a writer, I put some safety nets in place: budgetary restrictions and a specific timeframe were the most significant of these. In effect, I was saying to myself: “I’m going to try out this business of being a professional poker player and see how it goes.”

Can you see the problem with this, the weasel-words embedded in the concept from the get-go?

Three-quarters of the way through this undertaking, I find myself looking ahead to a decision point in August. In August I will have to determine what to do, based on my experience. But I will have to make a decision based not only on incomplete information (as with many important life-decisions), but also on information which has probably been distorted by an underlying flaw in the premises upon which the experiment has been conducted.

I have not, in fact, been acting as if my livelihood and well-being truly depended on my poker decisions. I have been “playing at” being a poker player. I have been operating under the assumption that there is a Plan B, that somehow it doesn’t really matter whether I succeed or not. I have not been making the best possible decisions in my life circumstances, generally; I have not been consistently bringing my A game to this project. This renders my results to-date (already a statistically dubious sample) even more highly suspect. The whole thing reeks of lack of commitment.

Here’s the irony, however: there is no Plan B.

I can no longer imagine happily returning to a more conventional way of earning a living. Of course if getting a regular job were to become a pure financial necessity, I would do it and I would make whatever accommodation was required. But I would experience it as a failure.

The fact of the matter is that I had simply never truly considered what the consequences of committing to this life would actually mean for me. It never occurred to me that (barring some kind of life-altering tournament score) I would absolutely have to move—leave my city home of sixteen years, my dear friends, comfortable residence, pleasant seasonal climate, familiar pastimes, rich cultural context. I had no clue that I would find myself ever more radically out of sync with the rest of the workaday world, to the surprising point of a certain discomfort, even for me, the perpetual outsider.

This is a strange place for me to find myself. I have changed careers multiple times in my life. People have often commented to me that they thought I was “brave” for essentially turning the page on one career and moving on to the next without much regret or anxiety. In retrospect, however, I think one of the reasons I was able to do that was that—again, somewhat ironically—I was never truly committed to any of my choices. I always figured: well, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll do something else. I’m lucky enough to have the education, the background, and the intellectual wherewithal to move on to the next thing if the current one doesn’t pan out. And so I have flitted from occupation to occupation (and pastime to pastime) without any truly signal accomplishments and without any deep-seated sense of satisfaction.

I am convinced, however, of this truth now: there is no substantial success in life, of any kind, without commitment. I have to now consider very carefully what I am actually prepared to commit to, because life is short and these things matter. It astounds me that it has taken me so long to come to this understanding, and amazing that I have poker to thank for it.

[Nota bene: "Commitment" is, of course, also a strategic concept in poker, and at some point I'll want to talk about that too.]

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Friday, April 3, 2009

A Good Checklist

Short-stacked Shamus pointed me to a useful checklist on Nat Arem's blog. Here are the basic characteristics that he considers essential for a successful poker player, and my brief self-evaluation for each.

  1. Even-keeled personality. I am not a volatile person. While I have suffered from depression in the past, I have never been a moody or highly-reactive person. Very few things really, really bug me or make me genuinely angry. Like anyone, I can be temporarily frustrated, but it blows over quickly. I am frequently shocked by how emotional and badly-behaved people can get both at the poker table and away from it.

  2. Good money management. This is a strong suit for me. I live frugally, and I very, very rarely truly splurge on anything. It is not a challenge for me to live within my means, and I have no aspirations to rock the balla lifestyle.

  3. Analytical mind. I spend a great proportion of my waking day thinking things through methodically. I love to figure out how various factors contribute to a decision. When I make a mistake, I review the entire sequence of events to determine what I might or should have done differently.

  4. Ability to view money as a tool. This does not come easily for me; I understand the concept, but it goes against my upbringing and previous understanding of the role and purpose of money in our lives. But accumulated experience playing at appropriate stakes is helping me learn to do this, and it is indisputably a vitally important attitude to cultivate.

  5. Overconfident and realistic expectations. Honestly, I'm not sure why Arem phrased his heading this way. If you read the description, it's clear he considers overconfidence to be a pitfall and, in contrast, values highly the ability to accurately self-evaluate and maintain expectations grounded in a realistic appraisal of one's experience. I like to think that I'm good at this, and that my view of my own abilities would match reasonably well with others' more objective assessment.

Needless to say, this is not an exhaustive list. I can think of quite a few more (I should hope so, since I'm writing a book that addresses the topic head-on). But it's a useful place to start.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cardgrrl Adopts a Dog

Every poker player has a "favorite hand"—pocket Aces.

Some players also have a favorite hand that, naturally, is of dubious value, but to which they are attached for superstitious, habitual, or sentimental reasons of one kind of another.

I've never had such a hand, and my feeble attempts to get on the bandwagon of one or another famous player's or blogger's pet hands have never brought me anything by way of satisfaction. So I have decided to arbitrarily choose a favorite hand for myself, and ~ as one is supposed to do with these things ~ play it occcasionally as if it were the nuts.

In keeping with my twisted fondness for puns, I have decided that if I'm going to adopt a pet hand, it ought to be a dog. I'm pretty sure its bark is going to be worse than its bite, and I'm going to have to teach it all its new tricks while it's still young. I will train the dog to fetch me the mobneys and flush out bluffs. If it has to occasionally roll over and play dead, well, that's okay too.

Please welcome my new familiar, the lovable, the loyal, the slightly drooly (but housebroken) faithful companion: the K9 (aka Fido). I expect the two of us to go far together.

Full Tilt screenshot with K9

Full Tilt screenshot with K9

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There may be something to this 2-4 business...

Pokerstars screenshot

It had to happen one day. I feel slightly ashamed. But I assume that the Master of the Deuce-Four is pleased with the progress of the postulant.

I went on to win the game.

[Nota bene: This is not an April Fools' Day joke.]

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