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Scar Tissue

I had a great time listening to pros like Jennifer Harman and Phil Gordon from a pre-poker boom broadcast of This American Life's "Meet the Pros." I highly recommend you check it out, as Harman's story of growing up into a poker goddess is interesting and the characterization of Phil Gordon as a zany post-Internet-boom rich-kid gambler is a far cry from the corporatized version from Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown and other outlets. One of the most touching parts is when zany Gordon mentions his divorce. As he tells it, he got married and then realized that he and his wife wanted different things from life. He sounded fairly sad about the subject, which was a nice contrast to his wacky "I'll bet on anything" antics just prior to his divorce sentiments. There is also a brief interview with an old school gambling grinder, who doesn't discern between bankroll and spending money. It paints a stark contrast to Harman and Gordon and successful poker players in general. Kudos to the program for being so even-handed.

While listening to the program, something said by Harman really struck me close to home. She was discussing how difficult it was when she lost her first thousand, and then ten thousand and then so on. She explained it as an escalation. Paraphrased, when you lose your first thousand, it takes a day to get over it. When you lose your first ten thousand, it takes a week. I think she got to a certain number (maybe 50k) and said that after she lost her first 50k, she couldn't sleep for a month. Yet, after those "firsts" it was that much easier to accept losing. She was essentially building scar tissue to protect her from the pain of future losses.

Hearing that really brought back memories of a recent downturn, when I lost $600 at Nice Look followed by a $400 loss at the Wall Street Game. The loss kept me up for a few nights, but ultimately I got over it. I remember at the time thinking to myself that it was only a short while ago that I got over losses of $250. (Actually, a year).

I pride myself on keeping calm and collected when it comes to losing at poker. I accept that sometimes I will get unlucky, and sometimes I will get unlucky for a long period of time. I also accept that I will lose money when these things happen.

To me, this was a necessary part of being a poker player. If you can't take the swings, then you shouldn't be playing because you won't play well. If you get upset over losing to a suckout, then you are playing above your bankroll or your emotional limitations. But after hearing Harman discuss the escalation of losses and scar tissue, I've come to a new conclusion: The losses will continue to hurt. They must. It's the nature of the beast.

I will continue to pride myself on accepting losses, but I will not remain blind to the reality that each level brings with it a new high (or low). I will continue to accept losses, but I will not be surprised or self-critical when I wake up the next morning with the loss on my mind. There can be no scar tissue without wounds.

That's all I have for today. I have a crazy poker week in store, which is fantastic, considering that I feel that I am playing really well lately. I've been patient and focused, and the results have shown in my play. On Tuesday, I return to the Wall Street Game, and if Matty Ebs can hook it up, I'll be back at the Financial Game with my bro-in-law Marc on Wednesday. Thursday is my day of rest before I head to AC with Dave Roose on Friday through Sunday. It'll be my busiest poker week in months, but I'm primed and ready to go.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:06 PM,


At 4:38 AM, Blogger Gnome said...

Thanks for pointing out the link -- "Meet the Pros" is excellent listening.


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