Saturday, October 08, 2005

Cry me a river

Sit down, pull up a chair, and get ready for a tale of introspection, failure, remorse, hope, and a 3 hours tour all rolled into one. It’s time for me to bear my soul. It helps if you play Julie London's version of "Cry me a river" while you read.

The wife and I had a sitter, so we went down to the Greentown casino. It was only the third time I had been there. The wife wanted to try real money 3/6 limit and I decided I would play too, just so we would have similar experiences to show. We went to dinner first and had a wonderful time, treating it like a date. After some wonderful food, we walked over to the casino.

I sit down to a table of players who had been playing quite some time. They were very experienced at playing 3/6. Me? I just plain was not paying attention. I bought in for $60 and lost $30 when my KK lost on a flop to 3 under cards. Sound confusing? It was to me too until I noticed that the eight was actually a second 7 on the board. I simply was betting into trips. How stupid is that? Not as stupid as REPEATING a mistake of betting 2 pair into a flush. How can I be so stupid? Well, I have 3 lame excuses.
1. Pauly is right, you need to play live or you are out of place.
2. You can’t play limit like you play no limit.
3. You have to be ready to play.
It was #3 that killed me. I was not ready to play. I bought in for a second $60 stack and played for two hours on it. I lost $11, mostly to players just getting hot cards. I never made a bad decision with this stack, but this was a table of flops and chasing and I rarely had good cards. The lady across the table would hit 2 pair with J2. Eh, what can you do? Mrs. Columbo? Won $50 DESPITE losing a big hand with mid-set to top set. She rules. I was embarrassed.

So, why the big intro to a seemingly simple story? Read on…

Just a short interruption to plug cardclub and my Columbo segments. Cardclub is a great card show and I am thrilled that they deem my humble contributions worthy. But I actually bring it up because it’s relevant to where I am going with this. So hold that thought.

I am a VP at a software company. I would say I am pretty darn good at what I do. After all, it’s what I have worked on becoming for my entire career. But what’s interesting about it is that I went on a business trip recently. I had to visit a staff member that was previously a peer and now reported to me. He just isn’t that great of a leader in terms of leading an entire department. He lacks the vision for it. I am sitting in his office and I notice his book shelf. Close to 50 books on leadership and management. It dawned on me that he was not ineffective for lack of studying, it was he just did not put the pieces together that same way I do. I have a knack for it, and in that respect I AM LUCKY. Sure, I read the books too, but I find things I am already doing in there and just use the ideas to compare to my own and fill holes.

All these thoughts formed in my head in a 2 second time lapse, and then the inevitable comparison came to my shelf of poker books. I am studying the game, but I have not developed the instinct for the game. It took me years to develop my management instinct, it took me years of stand-up (in my youth) to develop the “feel” for the stage. And now I need to develop table instincts. I simply have not accomplished this yet.

So its time to put the books back on the shelf. It’s time to stop shaking my head at players winning hands with J2o. It’s time to stop trying to play “technically perfect”. I have always been a very good board game player, but can’t seem to translate that to poker. Why? Well, I am not sure. But I am going to start playing poker like a board game instead of like a math exercise. I would rather make a good decision with J2o than a bad decision with KK. And that is my new focus. Play and develop the necessary “patterns” in my brain that start to awaken the instincts I already have. After all, how can management, board games, and comedy be that much different from a simple game of cards?

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