With my left hand wrapped in a band-aid the size of a hamster, the result of a serious rug burn after a mishap in a haunted house (or something like that), I strained and huffed and puffed my way through a monster stack of boxes into my brother-in-law’s trailer this weekend.
My poker game that night wasn’t much different.
Poker, like life right now, is a struggle.
It’s a happy struggle. For three years we wanted to sell our house. We put half our lives in storage. We waited to get high-speed Internet. We didn’t put up a Christmas tree. We took our pictures down and let “stagers” decorate our home for us. And we left our home three times a week and let strangers drag in mud on our carpet.
Now, finally, it’s all over. That takes the sting out of lifting your 157th box of the day.
Poker, also, is a happy struggle. Ultimately, after all, it’s there for my entertainment, and poker wouldn’t be fun, say, if all players did was push with J,3 os every time you held AA (ah, for the days of play money again).
But, damn, despite all that, my back hurts, and now my ass hurts as well after a weekend full of brutal, bad beats and tilty poker sessions.
Nothing, I believe, saps your ability to play well than losing a buy-in. I certainly won’t go the bad beats, but in all of them I was at least a 75 percent favorite, and all eight times I lost. And I would love to say that it was because of bad beats that I lost all my money. But I would be lying.
I found myself questioning my own play even before Bad Beat Thursday almost a year after I made my first deposit. I’ve made some good money (enough for a laptop and a trip to Vegas) playing poker, and I had one losing month out of the whole year.
All that goes out the window when you find yourself struggling at a $1 NL table, when you play well for hours and then give it all back and more in one hand. Or when you play SnG after SnG, including those advertised token races, and continue to bubble after months of crushing them.
You ask yourself several questions:
1) Was I winning simply because I was playing bad players? And now that I’m moving up, and (theoretically) playing better players, am I now one of the fish instead of the sharks?
2) Should I be more aggressive?
3) Why me?
After I did lose a buy-in at a $1 NL table (maybe not a lot to you, but ouch to me) Saturday, after a Thursday night that we should call the Night of the Living Suckouts (in honor of Halloween), I took a step back.
Throughout the last couple of weeks, as our lives are now cardboard boxes, cardboard boxes (yes, I meant to repeat that) and packing tape that seems to stick to itself more than the cardboard boxes, our mantra has been One Step At A Time.
It has probably saved my life already a couple of times, as my wife has nearly exploded once or twice. Truth be told, I would have spontaneously combusted myself a few times without that reminder.
Saturday night I took the same mantra.
One Step (Box?) At A Time.
OK, yes, I need to improve my aggression. But I’m not a calling station. I’m not weak/tight. I am an aggressive/tight player who sometimes errs on the side of being too cautious.
Fuck it. That’s who I am.
Once I realized that, I started winning again. I took two $8 beginner tournaments on Bodog and finished up $25 on Full Tilt. I cut my losses in half for the night. I even played my first Omaha Hi/Lo tourney, a 45-person, and cashed the damn thing (Drizz would be so proud of me). I went to bed satisfied.
I have started to bluff at orphan pots just begging to be picked up. I am making continuation bets now, even in cash games. And I am raising more pre-flop.
That’s enough for now.
One Step At A Time.
One day, when the boxes are unpacked, we’ll look for a new sofa.
And one day, I’ll tackle the $1 NL games again. And I’ll play them aggressively.
Just let me unload the trailer first.