The Next Level
At one point, all of us has probably thought that we might be actually better than we really are. It's normal, especially on a good run at the felt. But in reality, especially here in the RP, most players are just floundering about in Kindergarten, not even trying to pass but just comfortable in that level. I myself believe i am one of these people, but maybe what separates me and some others is that i have a yearning for something more. I want to know what the lessons are in the higher grades, i am curious to learn what they know, and someday maybe even be like them. I dont want to be stuck in kindergarten.
I have been questioning myself lately about my approach to the game. Maybe it is because i have been bombarded with too much information, too many styles and techniques, how-to's and what-should-be's. I find myself over analyzing the game, getting caught up in the odds and math, getting frustrated too often when things dont' go my way. All the thought processes and analysis of situations is making me cumbersome and slow to react, making me question my instincts and bypass my gut-feel. It's like the centipede that was happily walking along when someone asked him "how do you manage to walk with so many legs all at once?" He soon began to become conscious about this and started to stop and trip everytime he walked, since he kept on analyzing the process which he has been doing unconsciously in the first place.
I've had a bad run of poker these past couple of months, and i've never been more frustrated and doubtful about how i play the game, and even about the game itself. But then i realize, my "downswing" is nothing. It is insignificant, both in terms of the amount of money and the number of games and hands i've played. If you think about it, our live games play about 15 hands per hour. If i've been playing this "downswing" for the past 10 weeks, at about 3 games a week, at 4 hrs a game, thats 60 hands a day x 4/week x 10wks= 2400 hands. Include tournaments and that's just roughly 2500+ hands in 40 games in 3 months. Insignificant when it comes to having a realistic sampling in terms of poker success/failure. Online players dont even consider 1,000 sng's to be a really accurate sample! 40 games is not going to determine how succesful a player a person is going to be.
There are so many things to learn, and they can't be learned from books and lessons. Just like school, it isnt all about the lessons, the science, the math, the "book" knowledge, test scores, and whatnot. We also go to school to learn about how to interact with others, how to handle yourself in adversity, how to use your instincts, how to adapt to different situations, and a lot of other things that are not in the curriculum. If you get too caught up in doing things "by the book", you'll end up being stuck there, at that level. I noticed that most of the classmates i had in high school or college that were the "bookworms" or "studious" never end up as much of a success in the real world. They get "safe" jobs and prefer to live out unexciting lives of conformity to the "way things should be". It is often the noisy, witty, and "voted least likely to succeed" that end up as the movers and shakers of our society. They turn out to be successful entreprenuers or professionals, driven and passionate, and even end up being the bosses of the very same people they used to copy notes from in high school.
Poker should be approached in the same way. A good, solid, by-the-book foundation is of course needed, but in the end it is creativity, passion, and fearlessness that will make you a great poker player. I'm learning this the hard way too, enduring what, for me, is a painful swing of losses and beats. Only when you realize that losing in poker is not really losing that you can say that you understand the game. Losing is a part of the game, just like winning is part of the game, because one cannot exist without the other. I have never met a person with a 100% ITM rate, or a player who has never lost a single game. Michael Jordan, the greatest ball player of all time, had a career scoring average of more or less 50%. He missed half his shots! What made him great was that he made them go in when it counted most. That's difference.
The way cards fall is simply that. The way cards fall. It should not have any significance to the way you play the game. It is the one thing in the game that you cannot control, and trying to control it is an exercise in futility. In the end, that 2-outer on the river should no longer have any emotional impact to you and the way you play your game. It is simply the way cards fall.
Maybe, in the years to come, we too can also hope to achieve a certain level of mastery of the game we love. Right now, let's absorb as much as we can, learn from our experiences, and build up the confidence to take it to the next level.