Monday, 30 July 2012

Coping with loss

Week 1 is in the books and I broke even.

Week 1 breakdown:

Sounds shit, but I got off to a terrible start earlier in the week at Manchester G where I think I played well but ran badly and suffered a fairly substantial loss. I am obviously aware this is going to happen but it doesn't make it any less frustrating (cue the 'that's poker' comments) but it serves to highlight what I wanted to talk about this week and that's coping with loss.

A logical mind will quickly realise that it is impossible to win at poker every time. Most people who play the game are reasonably intelligent and also know this fact to be true. You are constantly up against probability and skilled, deceitful opponents and all we can do is attempt to put our money in +EV spots against our opponent's perceived ranges and hope for the best. We all know this, yet how many people know a local reg who constantly complain about 'fish' playing badly and 'you'll never guess what he called my 3bet with preflop...' etc. I can picture a couple now and sometimes I wonder how I keep a straight face when they are discussing the 'fish' and their play. Why are people surprised when calling stations call and fish play badly preflop? Why are people upset at calling stations calling and fish playing badly preflop - surely this is a fantastic spot for us to be in?

 It all boils down to mental approach and the ability to think logically in emotional, adrenaline fuelled situations.

I'm sure some of these regs are competent players who have the technical skills to be decent players, however they will never achieve much in the game as they cannot cope with loss. Working at making variance your bitch is something we should all be striving towards as it makes is better players and better human beings.
Here's some strategies I use to help deal with bad beats and cope with loss:
1. Say 'nice hand' to your opponent -  Mentally this helps me to move onto the next hand without resentment towards the villain who just got lucky.
2. Disect the hand after your session - Don't sit and stew about the hand there and then. Your focus needs to be on the next hand, not the previous one. People and variance will not go easy on you just because you had a bad beat last hand.
3. Don't panic - reload and start again. Poker is a never ending game and there will always be another hand.
4. Don't be results orientated - just because you lost one hand doesn't mean you played it badly, nor does it mean you are 'cursed' or your opponent is a fish. You might have played it badly, but see point 2!
5.  Recognise signs of tilt - I cannot stress how important this is. If you are tilting, go home or turn the computer off. It is the single biggest leak in anyone's game and the good players are very adept at spotting when someone is steaming and adjusting their ranges accordingly. Tilt is a personal, emotional response and I cannot tell you how to spot when you are tilting because it is different for everyone. The way I spot when I am tilting is when my protocol for decision making goes astray. I have a set pattern of things I do before I make a decision (eg: Who's opened, stack size, position, hand I have etc......) and when I'm tilting I just throw the chips in and see what happens on the flop. The first step in dealing with tilt is recognising it!

I will say here before I get abuse that I am human and sometimes the system breaks down. I am not faultless at the mental side of the game no matter how many times I claim to be a mental game ninja - it's a work in progress. No-one is a robot and as human beings we are all susceptible to allowing emotions to cloud our judgement. The key to mental strength is to limit this or more importantly, recognise it when it is happening and deal with it positively!

So back to Manchester G earlier in the week. I played for about 7 hours and after the final bad beat I could feel myself starting to tilt so I picked up my stuff and headed for the car. I was not prepared to risk any more of my roll when my decision making process was compromised. What I will say is that the game was juicy and definitely worth travelling for and I'll certainly be heading back there shortly to give it another go. The long and short of it is this:  I suffered a loss, but it doesn't make me a bad player or make my decision to leave my job wrong. It means I suffered a loss.

Had a good think about the session on the drive home and on Wednesday morning. I analysed spots, put opponents on ranges, calculated odds, ran a couple of things through poker stove and after this careful, analytical process I came to the following well thought out conclusion.

Variance is a bitch.

Thinking long term, I'm pleased with my response to the tough situation and pleased with my mental strength in adversity.

I managed a second place in a small comp at the Blackpool G Wednesday night (wp Sir @Mike Thomas) and followed that up with two solid wins in local NL games and a small loss in a dealers choice game on Saturday to finish the week level. I bricked a comp on the Sunday night but won the buy-in during the break in a  cash game so no harm done!

Week 1 of my new career and I broke even - and I'm ok with that!

The week ahead

Lots of good stuff happening this week. Firstly, starting tonight I am attempting the Genting Poker Speed Challenge. Basically, you play speed poker on the Genting skin for 24 hours and they calculate points based on Raked Hands/Total Hands x Hands won. The winner gets a £1k package to the GPS of their choice. Currently, NoCash is smashing it after a monster session on Saturday. He appplied the 'sex,drugs and rock/roll' approach (porn, pro-plus and Ipods......). I'm going for the more scientific approach - I will be drinking plenty of water and eating a lot of fruit and slow release carbs like granola etc. I'm taking no stimulants although I will probably drink some black coffee. I'm also going to schedule regular, shorter breaks where I will either walk around the block or shower to try and shake off some of the cobwebs. I do fully intend to play the entire 24 hours and am weirdly looking forward to it. I'll probably feel different this time tomorrow when I'm 10 hours in! I'll be posting an update thread on RaisetheRiver and AWOP so feel free to follow me and offer support (AWOP) and abuse (RTR) throughout.

From Thursday next week it's the Stoke GPS, a £440 buy-in comp guaranteed at 100k. I qualified for this in an online satellite earlier in the year and am really looking forward to it. It will be my first away trip since retiring from teaching and my first bigger buy-in MTT for a while. I'm playing day 1b on Friday and am staying over from Friday to Sunday. It's going to be very well attended and I'm sure there will be juicy cash games if I bust early followed by the Anniversary Cup (£150 with 6k added turbo) on Sunday. Would be fantastic to get a draw early on but I'm sure it will be a tough field. I'm looking forward to the challenge and hoping to be on the right side of variance!

Feel free to follow me on twitter (@awesome_hutch)/facebook and message me in any questions which I'll answer honestly and frankly.



  1. some good points 4 me 2 take in,thanks hutch good read.Good bad ugly (steve)

  2. Good post. Just updated mine

  3. Good luck with the 24 hour jobbie Hutch.