Faarcyde's trip down the rabbit hole (mental fortitude and surviving the poker landscape)

    • faarcyde
      faarcyde
      Bronze
      Joined: 08.11.2010 Posts: 769
      I wrote this post with my recent foray into heads up for the past half year, but it can certainly apply to any form of poker, except Razz.

      Poker is...fascinating. Chess seems to be considered the ultimate "thinking man's" strategy game, but it is nowhere near as layered as No Limit Hold 'Em or Pot Limit Omaha. If there wasn't a level of degeneracy surrounding the poker world, it could reign king.

      The reason for that is very few people have the mental fortitude to succeed at a high level. The dollar amounts attached to swings can wreck someone emotionally if they are unable to be honest about the quality of their own play, the quality of their opponent(s), and the standard deviation and the role of luck involved in this game of chance and skill.

      I've gotten to the point where I can wake up the next day after a big winning day or big losing day and completely "reset" to a neutral, businesslike mode. You shouldn't savor the highs too much or despair over the lows too much either. What IS hard to control for me is the confidence in my overall game. Card distribution plays such a large part in heads up play (and any other form of poker but especially HU) that it can make bad players look like geniuses and good players look like Guy Labierte. The craziest thing about poker is you can play theoretically, fundamentally sound PERFECT poker and still lose a massive amount of money.

      You can go from knowing that every play you are making is backed by sound logic one day and the next start questioning whether it is good to 3-bet AJ just because every time you do the flop comes 456 all of one suit you do not have. Sometimes you confidently thinly value bet second pair no kicker vs a reg and other times you can't pull the trigger on top two pair because you just KNOW they have a straight, right?

      The player I aspire to be is a composite of several people I admire in the poker world, namely Phil Galfond and Scott Palmer (UrNotInDanger2). Someone once described Scott as having played for hours on end without making a single remark about running bad, how someone got lucky, etc. He just steadily played his game, took his time, and thought through every decision. I long for that even-keeled play that some players seem to possess. Hell, I would be satisfied to not have to curse once every thirty minutes! Galfond once made a 2+2 post about how the end result of a given hand should not effect your emotions whatsoever. When you make a play, whether it is pushing a flush draw or firing a triple barrel bluff, you need to make the decision based on your analysis and then move on. Results oriented thinking is one of the major downfalls of skill progression and sometimes it is so hard to notice it when it is happening.

      Even though I am only a few years into this poker profession, I can already tell the people who survive the longest are not the ones who are the most talented but the ones who have the greatest control. I am NOT the most talented player out there. I am probably not in the top ten percent of players out there. But, I recognize my shortcomings and try to adjust for it in other parts of my life to give me that added edge. Whether that is mental control, bankroll management, life management or money management, it all matters. If you don't have a well-rounded life outside of poker there is no way you are going to have a successful life in poker in the long term.
  • 4 replies
    • OZSA
      OZSA
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.05.2009 Posts: 804
      [quote]Originally posted by faarcyde
      [B][I] If you don't have a well-rounded life outside of poker there is no way you are going to have a successful life in poker in the long term.[/quote]what you wrote is very true, just like 1+1=2. I agree with all, but in my opinion, the quoted part is the most essential and only then, the mental fortitude. I know alot of players who are actually really bad, but they dont tilt at all, they dont go mad at all, and they can do long session, where I have to stop sometimes even after 1 lost stack. how do you train ur mentality ? how you get rid of emotions ? or how you stop urself from saying stuff like "oh this goddamn luckbox just gonna hit again vs my AK..flop comes A5J.... I know he's got AJ goddamn...and he pots...ffs..i knew it..you cal...turn Q...he pots...jesus..what a luckbox..and u just fold"...i hope u get what i mean...

      anyway, by all means, the post is great !
    • dochazard
      dochazard
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.10.2008 Posts: 61
      Nice read.

      When the cards are against you, if you have nothing else going for you but the game, the life is just bad then, isn't it? Yup, totally agree that a non-poker life helps your game psychology a lot.
    • furculision
      furculision
      Bronze
      Joined: 25.03.2011 Posts: 474
      Thanks for sharing.
    • faarcyde
      faarcyde
      Bronze
      Joined: 08.11.2010 Posts: 769
      [quote]Originally posted by OZSA
      [quote]Originally posted by faarcyde
      [B][I] If you don't have a well-rounded life outside of poker there is no way you are going to have a successful life in poker in the long term.[/quote]what you wrote is very true, just like 1+1=2. I agree with all, but in my opinion, the quoted part is the most essential and only then, the mental fortitude. I know alot of players who are actually really bad, but they dont tilt at all, they dont go mad at all, and they can do long session, where I have to stop sometimes even after 1 lost stack. how do you train ur mentality ? how you get rid of emotions ? or how you stop urself from saying stuff like "oh this goddamn luckbox just gonna hit again vs my AK..flop comes A5J.... I know he's got AJ goddamn...and he pots...ffs..i knew it..you cal...turn Q...he pots...jesus..what a luckbox..and u just fold"...i hope u get what i mean...

      anyway, by all means, the post is great ![/quote]Well, basically I have found it takes a lot of time. I found that being physically active can fast track your success with learning how to deal.

      As far as when I am in game, it is a matter of reminding yourself of the little things such as "If the sharks always won there would be no fish" or "Just because the bluff didn't work doesn't mean it isn't a profitable spot." Like I said in the OP, avoiding results oriented thinking and remaining objective I feel is a large step in the evolution of a player.