At the tender age of ten there was only one thing that I wanted to do and that was to play football - I was bloody good at it as well. My parents dragged me screaming and kicking from the parks of Greater Manchester to the Valleys of South Wales. I learned quite a bit in my first few weeks in that Valley. I learned that the Welsh folk do not like the English folk and I learned that all the kids played rugby and very few played football. I found myself in a fight for status immediately. Some people levitated towards me and went out of their way to try and befriend me. Some people took an immediate dislike to me and went out of their way to make sure I remained mid table in the Premier League of life.
My best man once told me that I had the type of face that people wanted to smack and there was a queue of them when I started to sprout the odd pube or two. There was one particular lad who I will call Billy who made it very obvious that he did not like the new kid on the block. When we played football he would always try his utmost to be on the other side. He was about the same build as me but he did not have the skill or quickness of feet that I had. When we used to play he would always make a beeline for me. You could see the determination etched in his face. Nostrils flared slightly and forehead creased as he prepared himself for the tackle. I would see it coming before he had even thought about it though and would ride his slide with consummate ease. The more he missed the angrier his face began. The angrier he got the more he missed. He was stuck in a vicious circle and could not stop spinning. I was just wondering why he hated me so much.
Then one day while we were playing football in the playground at school he once again tried unsuccessfully to whack me. I think I laughed and he said.
“What are you laughing at Charlie Chan?”
“What was that Webby?”
The lad had two webbed toes. That was enough to spark it off and we had a fight and it turned out to be the first victorious fight of my life. After that day we became good friends and although I don’t see him much anymore still enjoy his company.
The lad was suffering from something I have christened Animosity Tilt. Something I had done when we first met - something very subtle - caused him to have an instant dislike to me. At first it didn’t really register as a big deal to him until we started playing football. He was one of the better footballers in the Valley at the time and along comes Charlie Chan from that English place down the road.
“Who does he think he is?”
Charlie Chan prances onto the football pitch with two books for shin-pads and a pair of second hand boots and scores goal after goal after goal. Every time there is a tackle to be won he is there. Every time there is a header to be won he is there. The more little battles I won around the football pitch - the more he saw images of me sticking two fingers up to him in his head - and the more angrier he got. The angrier he got the worse the situation became. His judgment was impaired by his emotions. He had lost control.
I suffer from Animosity Tilt all of the time. Only not when I am playing football - although I have in the past - but when I am playing poker. I am feeling great and have just had a poker lesson. My mind is full of new ideas and concepts and all of the mistakes that we have just exposed have been thrown into the trash. I am primed to take over the poker world. Well 200nl on PKR at the very least. I log on and fire up 6 tables and for the first few hours everything is going well. I am on top of my game and can feel that it is going to be a winning session.
I am on the button and three people limp into the pot. I look down at AhQh and make a raise to $14 to try and take the dead money in the pot or thin the field a little. It works when a player we will call Nobhead calls in the small blind. The flop is Qh4h6d. The monotone crimson colour a precursor to blood about to be spilt. The small blind leads out with a bet of $30 and I raise to $90 and he shoves for $200 and I make the call.
Nobhead somehow managed to find a call in a raised pot, from out of position with 6s4c. I am furious but I still have my flush outs. Well for one second anyway because the turn is the 4d and I am drawing dead and have lost $200. I type into the chatbox.
Good Call Pre.
He types back.
Did the job didn’t it?
I am immediately aware that I am just about to tilt. I take a few deep diaphragmatic breaths and then reframe the situation just like I have been taught. I need people like him to play otherwise I wouldn’t make any money. I feel better already.
I carry on playing but subliminally I cannot keep my eyes off Nobhead and his avatar. It is mesmeric almost like a big pair of jugs wobbling about in a bikini on a beach somewhere in the summer. I know I am going to get in trouble if I stare but I cannot help it. Then smack! I have stared too long at those bouncing beauties and my wife has slapped me across the face. Only in poker terms that means I have picked up AcTc and opened from the button before calling a three-bet from Nobhead. I never call a three-bet with AcTc but the mesmeric avatar has sucked me in just like those jugs on the beach. The flop is Ah4d4s and he leads and I call. The turn is Jc and he puts me all-in. This is an obvious fold, isn’t it? I mean I am not beating anything but a bluff. Yes, this is an easy fold - CALL. What? I didn’t mean to do that. It is an easy fold. Why did I call?
Nobhead turns over Td4c for trips. The river is about as helpful as a pair of chocolate sunglasses on a blind, one eared guy walking through the desert and I am down another buy-in.
I forgot to press the empty trash can button. All those mistakes from earlier sessions that I threw in there have found their way back into the pre frontal cortex. I start opening every hand against him. He keeps calling and I keep getting smashed. I pick up AhAc and raise and he calls. The flop is 4d6h7c and he checks. I have got him. I raise and he shoves and I call. He must have pocket tens or jacks. He turns over 4s4h for bottom set. I am crushed again.
Just like that kid on the football field all those years ago I am trying my utmost to smash this guy. But he is like Georgie Best and I cannot touch him. He can see me coming a mile off and I am not thinking rationally. My emotional mind has taken over the controls and it is just about to drive me head first over a cliff.
I type into the chatbox.
You are such a fish!
He types in the chatbox.
Keep the dough coming Charlie Chan!