Starting Over. Maybe.

F Paulsson

F Paulsson

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For those of you who don't know me, I took up poker semi-seriously about two and a half years ago, decided I could learn how to beat this game and set out to read books, study the game, practise lots and try to make some money on the side. I was successful at it. Not a comet in any way, but I gradually moved up from $.10/$.20 limit tables to the point where I was playing $10/$20 6-max as my highest game but mostly hanging out at $5/$10. I was active in discussions at the forums here, and I think I did a good job of learning as I went along. Some of you think of me as a solid limit player, which may or may not be accurate. This is what I now have to figure out.

Since this summer, poker has gone completely south. My bankroll has gone from ~$5k to $500, and I've moved down to playing $1/$2 again. I accepted the first brutal losses as part of the game, i.e. variance. I never thought of myself as fully learned; I've been studying more or less rigorously all the way. But when things started going bad, I assumed that, since it had gone so well so far, this was more likely to be bad luck than a sign that I was playing very poorly. I moved down to $3/$6 and kept at it. Bad beats continued to happen. I didn't win enough on my good hands. I kept losing.

I moved down to $2/$4. I continued to lose.

I'm now down to $1/$2, and honestly - I still don't feel like I'm winning. I know that I've been at least partially unlucky, but I need to take a really hard look in the mirror and find out if I've acquired some very big leaks. It's possible, for sure. I was very confident in my game around June and confidence is just shy of stubborness. I've made some conscious changes to my game since, changes that I feel are appropriate, but I'm not sure what, if any, other changes may have happened. Even if the first downswing - over three months - can be attributed to just bad luck, it's starting to become increasingly unlikely that the continued losses is just a matter of getting cold cards.

In fact, it would be almost superhuman of me to sustain these losses without being psychologically affected. I can tell by my stats that I've become more passive - taking the route of calling down rather than raise/folding - which is, I believe, a consequence of many bad beats. This passiveness is a costing me money though, and is something I need to look over.

I'm going to do that, starting in January 2008. Until then, I unfortunately need to find the time to play 10k more hands to clear SuperNova at Stars. I'm much too near this goal to give up on it now, even if it's going to cost me more losses. Hopefully that doesn't have to be the case.

Once that's done, I'm somehow going to figure out how to start from scratch. Or should I? Is that how I start over? Can I somehow base a restart off of the knowledge I already have? I have, I believe, a solid theoretical grasp of the game. I think there's a big risk I've started misapplying a lot of those concepts in practise, but I don't think I've somehow started misunderstanding how poker works.

Another problem, if you could call it that, is that my life outside of poker has been in a bit of turmoil lately, too, not the least in regards to the wedding and, more recently, switching careers. I've had a lot on my mind outside of the poker tables and it's unrealistic to think that this wouldn't have affected my A-game, so to speak.

The CardsChat blog has been suffering from all of this, for sure. The number of strategy-related posts since my downswing started has been very low; it's mentally taxing to try to tell others how to play when you don't feel very confident how you yourself play. Nick hasn't complained about the quality or quantity of posts (or lack thereof) but I can't say that I feel very happy about what I've accomplished with the blog in the second half of 2007. Hopefully that is another thing I can turn around with the new year.

It's possible that I'll take all of January off of poker (and CardsChat), just to get a break. I know that this is one of the more popular pieces of advice and so I'm sort of pre-empting it. Taking a break has rarely been the way to go for me because I don't necessarily relax just because I've stopped doing something. In fact, taking a forced break from poker may be more stressful to me than just playing when I feel like it. I guess what I'm saying is that if I'm not around much in January, this is why.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Here's to a good 2008!

/FP
 
tenbob

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Happy Christmas FP.

Ive said it before and ill say it again, i think a change of direction for you is needed. Even from looking around the tables on Stars the LHE games have gotten much tougher since i stopped playing limit around 18months ago. A well rounded and studied player like you should be able to crush the full ring no limit games. The thing is here one mistake by an opponent costs them 100big blinds, almost every time, and boy do these guys make a lot of mistakes, right up to $100NL and from what ive seen even at nl$200 the mistakes players are making is savage.

When playing nit can net a fairly decent profit on nl$100 then playing TAG and abc stuff nets a lot more. Have a think about it, have a look at Chucks recent graph, and have a look at mine for the year when i post it towards the end of the month and youll see what i mean.

Chin up, there still fish in them 'thar waters
 
A

ayasak

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hi FP,

Merry Christmas!

I've gained much knowledge from your posts and blog, gotta thank you for that. Its always hard to start again when you used to be good at something. Hope you'll be able to regain your confidence and Lady Luck smile on you once again. Good Luck !
 
Stick66

Stick66

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FP,

1) Yes, change your direction towards NL. It could even help your Limit game in the aggression dept.

2) When you take your break, you don't have to make it from Cardschat, too. Blog less and post more here in forum. We miss you here.

3) I'm not sure if you've done it already, but try to take some pressure off of yourself in regards to the blog by looking at it as a chronicle of an up-and-coming player and NOT as the teachings of the expert that many of us think you are. If you have been trying to live up to our expectations by needing to win, then you may be tilting yourself unknowingly. Maybe. Just a thought.

4) Start playing the forum games again. I know they may be at weird times in Europe, but being on the weekend helps and they are more relaxing than just grinding rings. (I just might have to take on this advice myself.)

5) Read or re-read a poker psychology book. Maybe AG could recommend a good one for your situation.

Anyway, good luck and keep plugging away, dude. :cool:
 
F Paulsson

F Paulsson

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I just now realize that I didn't actually say so, but yes - the plan is most definitely to "start over" with NL and/or tournaments after new year. I need something to jolt me, and "starting over" with limit just wouldn't work. Partially because I'm kind of sick of it at the moment - which is pretty natural given how many hands I have to play in the next week.

You make a good point about not taking a break from the social CC. I might take a brief vacation from the blog in the sense that I'll try not to feel guilty every time I see the "Blog" tab on the CC webpage, but there's no particular reason I can't still post here whenever I feel like it.

Your third point is very interesting. I can't say how true it is, because I don't know, but it has merit. I'll give it some more thought.

Forum games - yes. Whiskey and forum games - omg yes. Poker needs to be more fun again, definitely.

And as per the book: I think I know which book to pick up. The upcoming Tommy Angelo book. While not technically a "psychology" book (at least not judging by the Tommy whose articles I've read in the past) he's definitely an anti-tilt guy. I can't wait.

Stick and TB - thanks guys. I appreciate it.

ayasak: That means a lot to me, and I'm grateful and humbled. Thank you.
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

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FP,
Looking forward to seeing you in some cc games in the new year! Good luck with your remaining 10k hands.

Have you read Taylor and Hilger's The Poker Mindset ?
 
F Paulsson

F Paulsson

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I have not. I'm interpretting the question as a recommendation, and therefore I'm ordering it tonight. :)
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

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I have not. I'm interpretting the question as a recommendation, and therefore I'm ordering it tonight. :)

:)

The opening header to Chapter Five "Downswings":

"Everybody will eventually run worse than they thought was possible. The difference between a winner and a loser is that the latter thinks they do not deserve it." -- Craig Hartman
 
F Paulsson

F Paulsson

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I got a package deal from Amazon for that and Schoonmaker's "Your Worst Poker Enemy." Now to wait 2-3 weeks for delivery...
 
Egon Towst

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Oh dear, FP. You are one of the few I look up to and try to learn from. Now I am depressed. If you are bad, I must be terrible. :(

I agree with the other guys. Play NL. Play tournies. Limit is a hard road and stony.

In the last ~6 months, I have moved into playing tournies almost exclusively. My impression is that the fields are getting bigger and the standard of play is not getting better.

I have seen poor play recently even in $109 buyin MTTs, and at lower levels it`s a fish pond. If I can beat them, I reckon you can pwn them. :)
 
NineLions

NineLions

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FP, it's good to see you post, even if it is a rather sad post. You know the respect I have for your poker mind.


A selfish request, but, before you give up limit as you're saying that you "have" to play in the next week yet, please consider doing a poker video to add to the CC collection. Chuck and I had made a request for one from you in that section of the forum. It might not be you at your best, but you not at your best is still miles ahead of most of the rest of us.



And I'm glad that you're planning to move to NL, as I was going to suggest that too after reading only your first post. Take inspiration from Chuck's NL ring graphs of late. I'd expect much the same would happen for you.
 
Irexes

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I've spoken to the rest of the tournament players on the intraweb and they all think you should stick with limit. We all agreed you were far too cool and/or interesting to play MTTs and that it's very boring with no chance of winning big.


(or more realistically... be great to have you in the NL ring or MTT gang. As Egon says it does seem to be getting fishier of late in the decent sized tournies and any disciplined/structured approach will reap rewards. Of course with tournies the swings can be nasty and that brings it's own psychological pressure as the gap between big wins grows long. However one good result can wipe out months of nastiness which obviously isn't the case in limit.

I'd be interested in your take on the MTT world so selfishly hope you give it a go.

Carry on, carrying on my friend :))
 
J

jeffred1111

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Leave minbet alone and play NL or even Omahahaha more: you need to play perfectly to make up for the times you miss some vlaue by becoming too passive and I feel this is what is happening to you, while nits do make money @ NL even at 400NL and up. After railing some of the 5/10 games, I don't think anyone can have a good edge like they could only a short eyar ago, at least on Stars, unless they are playing way higher.

You have to beat the rake, the regs who grind 80k hands a month and are basically and are basically human pokerstoves + there isn't many fish left @ 5/10 IMHO, unless it's somebody moving up. Even 1/2 is hard nowadays.

Maybe minbet tournaments ? 2-7 3 card draw ? Knowing you, you'll be proficient at pretty much anything.
 
ChuckTs

ChuckTs

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Come to the dark side!

I know you can bounce back. My attempt at minbet gave me a nice fresh perspective on things and helped me in other areas too. Maybe NL could do the same for you.

Best of luck FP, I'll be following your progress in the months to come :)
 
Debi

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Good luck FP - and I hope you and Lori have a fantastic Christmas!
 
Dorkus Malorkus

Dorkus Malorkus

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Hai FP!

Some random thoughts...

- You already know the variance in minbet holdem is huge and brutal, obviously. Most of the money to be made in poker is at shorthanded NLHE tables, with the added bonus of there being significantly less variance than even at a full minbet table. Start at $50NL or something to get comfortable and get a grounding in NL and move up as you get more comfortable.

- I must admit I cringed when I read some of your blog posts. It seems that one of your bad runs coincided with your moving house - I really should have recommended just stopping playing until you had moved and got settled into the new place. Did you know that moving house - according to a recent poll by someone I can't remember - is the single most stressful thing that you can do? And guess what the second is - yeah, getting married! Even though I know you're a good and thoughtful player, I think you put it best in the OP when you said you'd have to be superhuman to not let your game be affected (yeah I know you were referring to bad beats etc in saying this, but it still applies here and I'm surprised you didn't mention it).

Merry Xmas and stuff, yo.
 
dj11

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Clearly a cry for a return to having fun while playing.

Simple cure, play our games. They are as much fun as serious.

Since I've never played against you, I'd soooo be looking to stack your ass.

LMAO. Shortly after that, from the rail no doubt we would have to watch you stack AG. Perhaps with that simple task you will have drunken the magic elixir, and your game will return.

Now, why did I write this drivel in this serious post? Because it sounds like you haven't had any fun playing for some time. If it ain't fun, it's work, and if work were fun they'd call it fun, not work!
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

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Clearly a cry for a return to having fun while playing.

Simple cure, play our games. They are as much fun as serious.

Since I've never played against you, I'd soooo be looking to stack your ass.

LMAO. Shortly after that, from the rail no doubt we would have to watch you stack AG. Perhaps with that simple task you will have drunken the magic elixir, and your game will return.

Now, why did I write this drivel in this serious post? Because it sounds like you haven't had any fun playing for some time. If it ain't fun, it's work, and if work were fun they'd call it fun, not work!

Sure, come on in, water is fine....
 

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F Paulsson

F Paulsson

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I'll make a video. Two tables, $1/$2 LHE. Let's see how that works out. I hate the sound of my own voice, though, so there's a decent chance I won't ever watch the video myself.

Engh.
 
F Paulsson

F Paulsson

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Well, downloading a trial version of Camtasia.

By the way, I appreciate all the sentiments in this thread. If I ever need another ego boost, I'll just copy the OP and re-post it. This is awesome.
 
tenbob

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Hai FP!

Some random thoughts...

- You already know the variance in minbet holdem is huge and brutal, obviously. Most of the money to be made in poker is at shorthanded NLHE tables, with the added bonus of there being significantly less variance than even at a full minbet table. Start at $50NL or something to get comfortable and get a grounding in NL and move up as you get more comfortable.

TBH the play at the shorthanded tables is getting stronger by the day, there is a raft of tools to help out every sort of donk at the mo, from coaching/most interweb poker vids etc etc. Maybe 6 months ago I would have agreed. Full ring is where its at atm, even the full ring P/L tables are awesome on almost every site. People just dont know how to play it, there is also a lot of donks watching the shorthanded videos/threads and incorrectly taking these concepts with no real understanding of actual hand values in full ring. It makes for some nice play :) Im sure that will likely change as the year progresses but thats really it as it stands. FR also helps you out immensly in MTTs.
 
F Paulsson

F Paulsson

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46 minutes of incoherent rambling recorded... I'm not sure what I've gotten myself into, here.
 
NineLions

NineLions

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46 minutes of incoherent rambling recorded... I'm not sure what I've gotten myself into, here.

I'll be looking for it too.


I think most people don't like the sound of their own voice recorded. Chuck was pretty hesitant too but lately he's been a video producing machine. :)
 
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