24/04/2008

Good Enough or Not Good Enough

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

This week has not been a good week, the writing of my latest book is really starting to become a bind, my cat has fleas, I have just turned forty and also done my nuts in on the tables. Oh and I ought to mention that I have really come to hate Neil Channing.

The kid hasn’t done anything wrong to me... well in actual fact he has. In the midst of all these negative events that have been happening this week, sat on my desk is the latest edition of Poker Pro Europe with “Bad Beats” face on the front. There he is smugly holding the Irish Open trophy grinning like some baddie out of a Batman movie.

A constant reminder that I haven’t got eight hundred thousand euros sitting in my hamshank. By Thursday afternoon, I’d had enough of him and had to stick the magazine into a drawer, doesn’t he realise that his grinning mush is affecting other people’s lives. Now I am thinking that there has to be something better than sat in front of a computer screen all bloody day.

So what’s the real point of this article? Well not only have I lost money this week but I have also not been playing well and I don’t know why. I just haven’t been focused on the job and when that happens, everything seems too much trouble. But what I think that it underlines is just how easy it is to drift from our “A” game into something resembling mediocrity.

This is why poker is such a tough game, it is more than just cards and numbers. Even when you have worked your butt off to make your game technically good enough, there are so many human factors that can drag you down again. I have often thought that to be a good poker player, you need to possess a good level of mental fitness.

OK... so just because you have been up all night partying and you then sit down to play a serious poker game online, this does not make you a bad poker player on the whole. But what it just might do is make you a mediocre poker player today. If you are playing against opponents who are so weak that you still have an overlay anyway then this may not be a problem.

But as you move up and start playing against stronger opponents then you had better grab every last piece of advantage that you can lay your hands on. Of late, mental idleness has crept into my game and this gets back to what I was saying about mental fitness.

But I think that if you are playing at a level where your results depend on you being at your very best then you need to take a good long hard look at yourself before you sit down. If you usually play at $25-$50 NLHE and haven’t played for whatever reason for six weeks then should you really be just sitting down and expecting to be the same player as you were before your break?

While you are playing poker... what are you actually thinking about this very MINUTE! I would like to bet that you are not always thinking about poker. Fine, so even a player who is on top of their game doesn’t think about poker for every single second of every session. Natural everyday thoughts will always drift into your mind when you least want them to. But the duration as to how long they stay there is entirely up to you.

If you find that you are concentrating more on other issues than on your game then should you really be playing? This has happened to me this week as I know that my poker book has been taking up an awful lot of my time and thoughts. A quick couple of hours watching the videos on Stoxpoker always seems to do the job. I really like the limit videos on that site as the people on there really know their stuff about limit hold’em and kind of remind me what professionalism is supposed to be.

But I think that I have been trying to do too many things at once and I really don’t think that this is conducive to playing good poker. If you play against fish then this might not prevent you from playing winning poker but winning poker isn’t always good poker is it and bad poker gets exposed sooner or later the more you play against players who can exploit it.

So what’s the answer? Well I think the answers are really quite obvious. I need to put the projects to one side and concentrate on the poker or don’t play at all unless I am messing about with small stakes but even then, I don’t like losing money if I throw it away as that annoys me afterwards. I need to get my head right and free of distractions and try to play my best game or not at all and if that doesn’t work... I can always try buying into the Irish Open next year! As usual, I will be available through the forum to answer any questions on the article.

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