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Tilt Tamer

I had some quiet time yesteday after work, spending some time with wifey Kim, and beating a few boards on Mario Galaxy. Just the sheer thought of saying that I am playing Mario Galaxy shames me on a certain level. I love games of all sorts, and the Mario games are no exception. It's just a damn shame that Nintendo still insists on targeting younger audiences. The innovation of the Wii system is what convinced me to actually buy a console (the last one I bought was Nintendo's N64, and thereafter, merely used my brother/roommate's PS2 before carpal tunnel got me to just about quit). Still, if Nintendo had more mature games, like the Godfather game or GTA games, I'd be a bit less squeamish about playing it. I mean, an almost-thirty guy chasing after Stars to save Princess Peach is a little, well, you can choose your own adjective.

After all of that, I felt the need to man up, so to speak, so I turned on my laptop (with new battery!) and began playing some tournaments. The first tournament I entered was a $20 single table SNG on Bodog. I then immediately entered a 6-player SNG on Bodog for $35+3, which is a tad higher than I am used to, but still within my comfort level (but not my bankroll level). I chose to try a more expensive tournament because the player base at Bodog is exactly as I heard: terrible. It's actually caused me to start keeping notes on players, since a donktastic play warrants a note moreso than any other act. If a guy is willing to raise big preflop with ATo UTG in a full SNG, I want to know that. If he is willing to call re-raises all-in, even better.

On my very first hand of the 6-max SNG, I was dealt AA. Even with my minor recent successes at Bodog, I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I was going to lose the hand. Part of it was the feeling that I have not been running well online. I've had a few minor cashes in SNGs at Bodog, but I can't win a token SNG to save my life at FT lately. It's a lot of bad beats not worth mentioning, even though I just mentioned it. My bad. The feeling of doom was enhanced by the fact that I was "taking a shot" at a higher SNG. I usually stick to $10-$20 affairs. But somewhere in the middle of the hand, I thought to myself, "If you think you are going to lose, you will lose."

UTG in a 6-max game, I raised to 6x the BB, aka 120. I usually raise to 3x the BB consistently, but it was the first hand of the game and I wanted one caller at most. I was concerned that the Bodog players would all call the 60 and I'd be putting myself in harms way. UTG+1 called, the next player folded, and then the button raised to 300. When it folded to me, I raised to 930 by hitting the "BET POT" button, hoping to squeeze out the caller between us and force a push by the re-raiser. The re-raiser just flat-called and we saw a K-high flop, with two diamonds. I pushed immediately and was called by JJ with one diamond. This was the moment that I had the "If you think you are going to lose, you will lose" thought. The turn was a diamond, giving my opponent a four-card flush draw, and the river was an offsuit Jack, giving him a set over my Aces. I closed the window and seethed with anger and frustration. I felt it well up inside of me.

Meanwhile, I was accumulating chips in the full table SNG I was playing at Bodog. I felt the urge to play a questionable hand and immediatly identified my tilt. I hit the fold button and stood up from the couch. I paced the floor a bit to run off some energy. It was a weird thing. My tilt felt tangible. I knew it was there. But it did not feel like it was a part of me. It felt...separate somehow. I didn't feel upset beyond that initial pang, but my actions were still not tuned into the game I was playing.

As I paced, I also folded about 3-5 hands that were folding hands regardless of my mood. I felt the calm wash over me and I returned to my seat. I was happy that I let the tilt fade and kept control the whole way.

The SNG was in a lull, as I switched to a tight mode after accumulating chips. I opted to fire up a FullTilt $8.70 turbo two-table Token SNG, and then a 45-person turbo SNG on Stars. I played all three tournaments tight. In both of the turbo SNGs (FT and Stars), it is a smart strategy to play tight until the blinds catch up with you. But in the end, I lost both when I pushed with AQ with a stack of around 10x the BB and were called by lesser hands. One was KJ, and the other was J8. Those losses, I handled a lot better.

I continued to dominate the Bodog SNG until we were three-handed. Then I lost a major hand and found myself to be the shortstack. Inevitably, I lost, taking home 3rd place money.

Overall, the night was a wash. I lost more money than I won, but not every night can be a winner. Instead, I practiced some self-control, which will hopefully pay off in the future.

* * *

I just wanted to take a moment to thank the commentors to my last post. A lot of you liked the fact that I kept my cool. I really didn't see another option. Wifey Kim always comes first, and this was a trip about her friends. I didn't have to love the guy; I just needed to endure him. Still, I appreciate the comments and I appreciate the jokes even moreso. I especially appreciated Goat's list of board games and the nations/races to avoid. The only one he missed was the game of Life. Never play the game of Life against a Sicilian or you'll fall into one of the two classic blunders . The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when Life is on the line!

* * *
I've been reading a lot of year-end posts that seem to suggest the same thing. A lot of poker bloggers are falling out of love with the game. I understand where they are coming from, but I would venture to say that more than 4/5 of those bloggers will continue to play and blog in some capacity. You can take the poker player away from the poker, but you can't take the poker away from the poker player. It'll always be there waiting to be rediscovered. The same is true for blogging. Even if you quit, you'll still be one of us. That's all meant to say that I think these lulls are very natural. Go out, enjoy life, and if/when you are ready, poker and blogging will be here waiting for you. It's the same thing they say about walking away from a losing session: The game won't seize to exist just because you have to walk. It'll be here tomorrow.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:20 PM,


At 3:13 PM, Blogger Julius_Goat said...


At 3:41 PM, Blogger Fuel55 said...

The donks surely have to lose interest in something they are no good at sooner or later ...

At 3:56 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

So mean, Fuel. I know your statement is meant tongue-in-cheek, but I don't understand all the hating on each others' games. Even the losers are OUR losers, and I think there are a lot less losers than recent consensus seems to suggest. The truth is that online poker may not be the right fit for a lot of our brood, and they would be better served playing live more. That's where our edge is. But that's not what's available to most.

Yeah, but it is true that losing can be a big impetus to quitting. If only it were that easy to quit.

At 8:23 PM, Blogger iamhoff said...

Nicely done first identifying your tilt and then shedding yourself of it. Already that puts you ahead of most players.

And as to the "lulls" as you describe them, good way to look at them. Every now and then somebody's going to need a break from something. It doesn't matter how long the break is, likely they'll be back at some point, ready to dive in. That's the beauty of a group like's never going away. Some faces (and URLs) may change, but I think the overall dementia and fun loving atmosphere (smells kinda like SoCo) will never die off.

At 3:40 PM, Anonymous MrGoss said...

I don't like your re-re-raise preflop. That commits you almost immediately. I think the line that needs to be drawn with online vs live play is that you have to have a way out for your victim. If you smooth call the re-raise (which, btw, screamed to me AK, KK, or QQ) then you have a 615 chip flopped-pot. You still have 1200 in chips. A 400-600 chip bet or maybe even less, gives him another card and one less draw or gets him AI AFTER the flop. You add more doubt here if you insta-push or decisively bet. Remember, all the info he has is your action and his two cards. good luck.


At 12:53 PM, Blogger Joe-Unimpressed said...

I died a little inside, when I read that pun.


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