It's only one hand
I don’t do long strategy posts. Not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t feel I am qualified. I READ strategy posts. I digest strategy posts – or at least, I try to. But some situations have been analyzing lately drove me to want to put these thoughts into words, and I decided to post this, cause I believe it is an important thing to think about. This in not strategy, but can have an effect on strategically correct play.
Tilt. Hmmmm, this is a word we have all heard. But what, exactly IS tilt? IMO it is anything that comes between you and the optimal decision, and you allow it to distract you in the decision making process. It can be anything. Having a police car go by with sirens blasting for the third time in an hour, and you get irritated and are thinking „fuk, I don’t need this, 12 tables and this is getting on my nerves“. Being drunk. Having your spouse come in the middle of a game and say „WHY DIDNT YOU xxxxx (insert spousal criticism) LIKE YOU SAID YOU WOULD?“. Getting tired and not noticing. Being hungry and getting antsy to eat. Bad beats. Bladder pressure. Headache. Thinking of a work deadline, while saying to yourself „I just will make one BI more, then take a break“. Having the internet on. Telephone. Skype. Heartbreak. Heartburn. Heart attack (OK, maybe that’s going too far...)
But you get the picture. What is tilt to me??? ANYTHING that gets in between me and the optimal decision. The reason for tilt in unimportant in the moment of tilt (unless you are working on your ZEN and consciously try to recognize and love the tilt when it appears, but that in not the center of this rambling post). When you look back and review you play, then the reason becomes very important, cause how can you fix something that you cant see?
But the point I want to talk about now are the very small tilts that come and go almost unnoticed. Say you are multi tabling and on 3 tables almost simultaneously, you get great hands. You are playing bad players in each hand, and you get your opponents all in. On each hand, they suck out big time. BANG. 3 BI in less than a minute. SHIIIIIIT. So you raise UTG with your KJs on table 4, the nit BTN 3 bets you, you 3x his 3 bet while exclaiming to yourself „Fuk you man“ and he shoves....... Reality sets in and you fold. You take a deep breath. „AHHH“ You close your eyes for 10 seconds „AHHH“ You open your eyes, take another breath and you are good again. „AHHH“. Congratulations you have done not bad, better than I do a lot. You look at that move on table 4 and say „Ahhh, fuk it. I did OK, despite those beats I shrugged that tilt off fast. I lost that 4 bet, but it was only one hand“
Anyone recognize this? It can be from any situation. Take any of the situations in paragraph 2 (or one of the thousand other possibilities), and make a bad decision cause of it on one hand, then catch your self. Get back into „good play“ mode. Hey, we are only human. It was only one hand.
But, even though we will all tilt and make a bad decision – and we don’t need to crucify ourselves – we do need to recognize where this happens. Cause it is not only the long nasty tilt sessions that help ruin our win rate, but the small, almost unnoticeable ones as well. And the more we get the major tilt factors under control, the more the minor tilt factors become a negative influence on our bottom line.
Look at it like this. You make a small mistake that you could easily have avoided and it cost you 10% of your stack. These are the ones we may miss on review, cause we look for the BIG losses, a nd BIG wins when we review. But this 10% was an emotional response.“Dummy“ you say to yourself at the time, then forget it. After all, it was only one hand.
10% of a BI that could have been saved. No big deal, right??? Well, and this is what I have been pondering on in my own play, how often do I do that????? Once in 1000 hands? Once in 500? Once in 100? Once in 10???????? And did this „one hand“ ONLY cost me 10% of a BI? Could it have been 15, 20, 40, 50%? Or – more probable - over the course of a bunch of these „one hand“ brain farts, a combination of different amounts that I miss on review?
So, I am not trying to claim that I can help anyone recognize these spots, nor can I offer any great advice on how to combat and conquer these types of losing spurts. (Jared Tendler and Tommy Angelo spring to mind right off the bat) My whole point is to maybe get a player or two thinking about where these situations occur in their daily sessions. I think many of us have more spots like this that we realize. And perhaps more often than we realize.
Lets say you play .25nl. You do a hand like this one time in 500. That’s $2.50 lost in 500 hands. Hmm, not all that bad really. Lets say you play 4 tables and do 2000 hands a day, and you play 15 days a month. That’s $150 a month. OK, not great, but, hey, the house doesn’t need to be sold. You play 10 months a year. That’s $1500. Hmmm, that sure would be nice to have. You can calculate this in any stake you play. If the volume above sounds like you, then if you do this once in 500 hands, you gave 60 BI away. You are not devastated by this, but we are talking about losses that could have been avoided. Now, the situation above could be a dedicated but pretty recreational player. Say you take poker more serious than that. You play 8 tables. Or 12. you play 20 days a month. You play higher stakes. The losses go way up. And, haw many players are only going to play one tilty hand in 500? One in 250 hands? Even less hands? Wow, am I giving that much money away? We are not talking about tilt sessions, which most of us struggle with, we are talking about momentary lapses. Because battling tilt means the small as well as the big. In some cases, the small may even BE the big.
OK, this was uncharacteristically long for me. It may not help anyone but myself. But since reaching and remaining at a decent win rate is all about edges, we need to look for that edge anywhere we can find it. And the edge can be found within ourselves as well as vs our opponents. And saving a BI here or there that we are just giving away, well, even if its a small amount, can that be bad???
Maybe it really is not ….... only one hand.