Monday, May 13, 2013

Monkey Tilt

So I realize at this point that I am well beyond the learning stages of poker and deep into the implementation stages. Which has affected my desire to blog about lessons learned. But for the sake of edification, I am recording this for my own posterity. I think I have a tilt issue...

This is BIG news to me. I think of myself as detached as I play, unemotional and calculating. But after making a SERIOUS amateur blunder on Friday, I was forced to reevaluate everything I assumed about my process. And I came to the conclusion that I not only have this issue in poker, but in life itself.

Let's look at some symptoms:
I have a track record of going deep when I am not feeling well. (Why is this?)
I play well early, when most players play sloppy. (note: This is not always true in 3 or less tables, but deep it is)
I understand level 3 thinking, but often make decisions based on putting my opponent on a hand that I would have (which is clearly wrong)
I still feel the rush of adrenaline when I play a big hand.

None of this tends to indicate that I am detached. As a matter of investigation, when I am not feeling well, I act slower (thus more time to think), I dont get overly excited about a hand, and I am patient. All of THESE things are good.

When I build a starting stack from $10k to $15k and the blinds hit $200/$400/$50, I am doing alright. That is well over 20 bigs. It's funny, but towards the end of this level, I remember raising to $1500, thinking it was $300/$600 and getting 3 bet off a hand. Lack of concentration.

When I short stack moves in from the button and I have KQ, I was looking for reasons to CALL. and I did. And he showed JJ. and I lost the race. "So what?" you say, easy call. But here is the rub. I did not follow PROCESS. I did not ask for a chip count, which would have been closer to $6k, not the $4k I assumed. I did range him (Ax), but can EASILY find a better spot than with KQ and 37 bigs. And I cant be a favorite in the hand EVER. So, I GAMBLED. Ok. Still, I gambled and lost, no sweat.

I still have $10k and the blinds go to $300/$600/$50. No need to panic. Folds around to me with AQs and I make it $1500. A player who would RARELY 3-bet me light at this level with his stack size, makes it $3200. and I "think" about it, then Shove. Snap call, AK. Duh.

What the hell can I possibly be thinking there? I am not thinking, I am reacting. And then I started to compare this situation to set-back challenges I have in life. Similarities came rushing to me. My recent phone crash, and loss of a RAID drive, a mower I could not get into gear... and in these cases, my "action" (which I now see as "reaction") is to push to get back to working as quickly as possible. To return to the state of what I had. Like chasing lost chips. I throw caution to the wind, pull out a box of hammers, and start hammering on solutions. I'll fail a dozen times, zero in on the solution (which now seems like I could have gotten there without so much carnage) and then "relief". But the cost was too high. In times of stress of "things not as they should be", I need to remember what you are supposed to start with in a stressful situation. First, DO NO HARM.

The coffee maker would not turn on today. Perhaps I will GOOGLE and try something safe before hitting it with my hammer. I only hope I can fix this major impediment to success in both life and poker soon. But the identification has been mind-blowing.

I now am a member of Monkey-tilt anonymous.