"There is no plateau of resting or stabilising. Once you are interested in how things evolve, you have a kind of never-ending perspective, because it means you are interested in articulating the evolution, and therefore the potential change, the potential redefinition."
There are many occasions during the growth of a poker player where he or she thinks "I've got it!", only to get nailed by a better player at higher limits when they try to step up. The thing is, I wonder if anyone ever really gets to the point where they think "I've got it!". Sure, you might have a really great day and hit every flop and avoid every suckout, and when you go to bed you dream of doing it instead of your day job. But then you wake up, the next day comes and it's another break even day.
At each stage of learning in this game you will hit a plateau, there will be weeks, even months where you feel like you arent improving and the better you become the longer the plateaus are likely to last. If you've ever learnt a musical instrument you'll understand what this feels like. 3 years ago I learnt to play the guitar. The first 6 hours I thought, I'll never be able to play this, I have the musical talent of a goldfish. 6 hours after that I thought wow I can play my favourite song, I'm going to be the next Eric Clapton. 12 hours after that I came to the realisation that i knew nothing of barre chords or picking and that what I could play didnt even get kind words from that great dead cert of encouragement, my own mother. Later I would be able to hear improvement in my playing over the course of just a few minutes, yet other times it would stay unimproved for days, only getting better when I lay the guitar down for day or two and then came back to it.
At the moment I'm on the back-end of one of these plateau's, it's lasted about a month. I've played ok and cashed in several tournaments, but when I've busted its been because I haven't trusted my instinct. I've raised or checked and gone through the motions of a level 'B' player, when my instincts are screaming I should be making a level 'A' lay down or call.
These last 4 or so weeks I've consistently made the ABC Poker play with 95% of my hands, and proven that when the ABC move has been the wrong thing to do, my gut feeling has been telling me the right thing to do. Believing in myself, and my gut feeling is the virtual step up in this current plateau, but another always awaits with new challenges for the evolution of this poker player.
(image removed it was huge!) Here's the graph of my changing chip count during last nights $3 R&A on stars. With a bit of luck I'll be able to apply some analysis to this and make my first useful stategy post :) ... more to follow when I have had time to dig deeper. I'm gonna redesign the blog a bit this weekend too, the white on black thing just isnt doing it for me
A win and a mistake
Some nights you just hit the sweet spot, don't you?
In the minefield of a multi table tournament, we have players, cards and tilt all vying to take a chunk out of our stack, trying so hard to kick us in the junk and lol as we bubble out yet again. Last night, for the first time in weeks, I felt I really played well. I hit the path of least resistance in the $3 R&A satellite to the 500k on Stars, it was a great feeling to have over a 100k chip lead at one point. So, now I'm playing in the 500k on Sunday, which being on UK time is a bit of a shit for work on Monday, but I doubt I'll last that long anyway!
I finished 15th in an Interpoker Multi too last night, I went out on a idiotic mistake that has plagued my thoughts ever since. With about 7x BB left, I get dealt KsJs and decide I'm probably taking this hand all the way to the bank. Then UTG min raises. Crap. I hate UTG minraises cause I know they're damn fishy. Like an inexperienced player, I flat call. DUMB. The BB, the chip leader on our table completes (of course he's getting 5-1 he'd complete with almost any hand). The flop is K-2-4, all diamonds. UTG pushes allin, and I know he doesnt have the flush. I've completely forgotten about the BB. I push too. BB calls of course with 9-3 diamonds. UTG shows Kh10c.
If only I'd played this hand properly I wouldn't have been dead there. A Lesson learnt and put in the memory logs for future. Unfortunately my short time memory is crap, and I'll probably forget it in a few hours, only to be reminded of this cursed moment 40 years from now, when in my last precious moments on earth all the poker hands I ever played suddenly flash before my eyes.
My excuse for playing this way ?
The BB had been throwing his stack around a lot, especially at me, and I was just waiting for the opportunity to shove it back in his face and double up from him. I was on "I'll get you, sunshine" tilt, and as such played it poorly just to keep him in the hand.
Hooks Home Game
I've been a bit slack updating this last week, and I feel guilty about that, ah the joys of having a blog. I know the 3 of you reading this (thanks mum, dad, sis) will appreciate my guilt. So what's the story, morning glory. Truth is I've had a rare chance to concentrate on poker. On Thursday last I placed 4th in the £3K gtd on one of Interpoker's affiliate sites, scooping around £250. Sure, not megabucks, but nice to place and play reasonably well. They seem to be really getting their act together at IP now, after months of poor server reliability. Also they've added mini satellites to the daily guaranteed, potentially costing very little against poor opposition to get entry to the nightly multi's, nice. Just remember Cloutiers advice that the Over/Under on satellites is 3.
We had a home game on saturday round at "Hooks" place. 2 of the players were completely new and raised the minimum whenever nobody else raised. It was only a matter of time, one of them actually played their hand blind to the river against my pocket aces. "Hooks" won the tourney in the end, after taking a massive pot for 80% of the chips on the table against Tim the Texas Twister. Tim raised it up with As Kh, and Hooks, chip leader in the BB called his raise. The flop was Ah Ad 7c. Hooks bet around 1/2 the pot and Twister announced All In. Hooks quickly called and flipped over Ac 7d for the flopped boat, no King came and that was that.
I did my best to put up a fight, going allin with Q-Jo, which held up vs J-10 and then the final hand my J-10 vs 10-9, with a 9 on the turn it was game over and hooks posted his second win of the season. It looks like we'll be playing again this Friday, good stuff it looks like this game is turning into a regular session.
Oh I played some Noble SNG's for the Million challenge. Pocket pairs still aren't holding up against any crappy ace, and I realised the games are basically turbo's, the blinds double every 7 minutes. Double. Not Increase. and 3 minutes quicker than most sites, no wonder they're happy to make it a million for 7 in a row !
Take care y'all, and good luck on the tables.
Noble Poker $1 Million SNG Challenge
In case you didn't know, Noble are offering $1M to anyone who can win 7 consecutive SNG's at their site. Good luck ! I tried my luck there last night, 5 games and all 4th place finishes. So far I've played about 10 SNG's there in total and have always seen the flush draw hit on the river and ANY kind of ace hitting the flop against a pocket pair. I think that has something to do with the quality of players too though, the majority will play any ace under any circumstances. Not sure if it's just me but the blind structure seems slightly more aggresive there than at the usual sites I play too. Anyway, will be back in the challenge games tonight. Wish there was a wooden spoon for 7 consecutive 4ths ! I could take that down quite easily !
Yup I'm back, sorry I didn't update much last week, yeah I know I suck, but it all got a bit hectic ! We finished with 2nd place in the battle of flowers, pretty damn good going and we only lost by 3 points. Last night we smashed the float up for another year and packed it away into the shed. Maybe I'll write a fuller update of the events with photos later this week.
In the meantime, I feel very poker fresh, so tonight I'll get my first chance to play in 10 days and hopefully it'll feel goot. Work is the same, except I think they have decided we are all unthinking idiots (why did they employ us then?!) we now have a "risk assessment sheet" to be completed before any software release. This sheet contains 10 of the most common sense questions (eg Is this app use by many people ? )and a score, which excel adds up for you ! No shit sherlock. I think I can work out that if I have 1000 users there's a higher risk & probability of getting my ass kicked when it goes wrong than if I only have 10 users ! I wonder why they employed us if they think we're that stupid ? Maybe it's all part of my covert conversion to cubicle clone.
I once read a piece about professional poker players spending their 'working' lives in conflict with their 'co-workers'. I don't think they're any more in conflict than with co-workers than any other large organisation. Certainly their are similarities - limited resources, probability & risk, and constant meetings generating and resolving conflict. It was so refreshing for me last week to be working with people who all had a common goal and will. It reminded me of the previous company I worked at, where 'what can I do to help" was the prevailing attitude rather than "I'm working at full capacity and efficiency, you'll have to apply for another resource unit to continue". Perhaps those days are gone forever in todays economy, perhaps its me, perhaps its just this office. I've spent a long time believing poker as job would be unfulfilling, or bad for my health, or those around me, but my gut has always been saying something different, shame life isn't a MTT, you should always trust your gut in a MTT.
More soon, thanks for reading...
I won't be playing very much poker over the next 2 weeks, although obviously I'll try to fit it in, its that time of year when I do my bit for the community and help bring a bit of tourism to my island. The first Battle of Flowers took place on 9th August 1902, as a celebration for the coronation of Edward VII. The event was so successful that the islanders decided to hold it annually. It began as a flower parade, but along the route the flowers were torn off and thrown to the spectators. They threw them back, and the Battle began. During Jersey's tourism high of the 60's & 70's the Battle would draw audiences of around 60,000, but that number has now declined to around 30,000 partly due to the seating limitations now in place, and partly because of the increasing cost of flying in and out of this little piece of rock in the ocean. It is now so expensive to get here from London that you could travel to just about any other European city for less, but some would say the journey is worth it :o)
"The sun always shines on Battle Day"
It's true, even when there have been downpours 20 minutes before the parade starts, soaking spectators and floats, the sun will always make an appearance during the parade. The floats are adapted from motorised vehicles, typically farm tractors. A frame of welded reinforced girders, rods, timber and chicken wire & papier mache is added to this, with the flowers then glued to the frame. Members of my family, especially my Mum, have been helping in this process of creation representing St Clement year after year since they moved to the island in the late 60's, and in that time have helped to win the top honour in the parade, the Prix d'Honneur many times, most recently taking a hat-trick of firsts from 2002-2004. That will no doubt make it particularly difficult to take top honours again this year. For decades St Clement have relished in friendly rivalry with the Optimists Club, who always produce superb designs and quality of flowering year after year, I remember ever year we arrive at the parade ground and see their float I think "That's incredible, we havent got a chance this time". The "Ops" won in 2000 & 2001 so they will no doubt be looking for that winning feeling again.
"No sleep the night before Battle"
So the next two weeks will hopefully make interesting reading for you guys too. I'll try to keep posting as much as possible with updates to where we're at, generally the plan is something like this...
Friday 10am - First shipment of flowers arrive in boxes from UK/Holland - all the stems have to be stripped of most leaves, cut to about 2/3rds length and placed in buckets of water.
Saturday 10am - Second shipment arrives, same process.
Sunday - ideally the "wood and nails" contruction phase is over - Never gonna happen!
Monday 8pm - This is the earliest that flower heads can be placed on the contruction, because by thursday afternoon they will start to shrivel and die if they are put on any earlier.
Tuesday 9am-2am - This is a minor mental day where everyone finishes what they should have had done by Sunday on the building front, it is also a big day of flowering on the float, but because there's still a day left everyone is in a "do it properly, get it perfect" mind set.
Wednesday 9am-10pm - Major mental day. Everyone very busy flowering and doing little else, focus is on the production line from flower cutters - runners - gluers - stickers. Set pieces completed earlier in the year are postioned and fixed to the float.
Wednesday 10pm- 2am - The Dead zone. This is always a wierd time, somewhere in here one can go from panic to aloof, exhaustion to satisfaction in the blink of an eye. It usually looks as if there is less to do than there really is at this time. People from other floats start to wander in to see how you're getting on now that they've finished and are off to bed for a good nights sleep.
Thurday 2am - 6am - The Red Zone. There's usually a dozen or so people left, some who have been sticking flowers since 9am. It's a marathon and time is running out, everyone tries to hit a second wind of awakeness and spur on to get the thing finished in time, its no longer "Get it perfect" its more "Just get the thing covered, whatever it takes"
Thursday 6am - Finished or not the float has to leave the shed it is in and make its way to the arena. Last year we were so late getting finished that we actually had to take flowers and glue to the parade ground and were sticking them on up to 5 minutes before judging.
On the Thursday afternoon there is a daytime parade, Friday evening a carnival moonlight parade & fireworks and then Saturday night is guaranteed one of the best party nights out of the year, the exhibitors night. Held for the presentation of the prizes, it is the communal release of the collective tension from 600 tired, emotional islanders who can only see flower heads when they close their eyes. It is a mentally rowdy night, typically resulting in broken cutlery and table dancing.
That's the idea anyway ! Late night poker sessions are a good prep for the lack of sleep I'll have on Wednesday night, it really is worth every ounce of effort thats put into it. It's good for the soul, being surrounded by good people with a common goal and acheiving it is one of the best feelings in the world when you have given your all. Just getting the thing finished and out there is an experience full of pride and joy, and to win - usually announced to you after having been awake for 33 hours - can be very..... emotional !