Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dating Again

I met a woman named Becky a few weeks ago through the online dating site called Chemistry. I liked her right away. I thought she was warm, pleasant to speak with, and very beautiful. Our first meeting was at a bookstore/café in San Francisco called Crossroads Café. We talked for two hours and seemed to hit it off. We had a lot in common. We both enjoyed books, classical music, writing. I enjoyed my time with her. We agreed to meet again the following week. Our second date was at a Peruvian restaurant in San Francisco called Mochica. Our second date was really terrific. We talked for three-and-a-half hours. The conversation was effortless and easy. I was really smitten that night, and said so to her the next day. Mistake? Maybe, but I can’t help it. If I like someone, I say so. Save the games for the poker table. She travels a lot and wasn’t available to get together until the following week. We met for breakfast in Oakland at one of my favorite breakfast establishments called Lynn & Lu’s. The energy and enthusiasm was noticeably down a few notches. She had flown back to SF from Chicago the night before and looked a bit weary. Her energy picked up during breakfast and she told a few family-related stories. We also talked about personality profiles. Apparently, she’s taken many personality tests for work. She said she was an I and a J, but didn’t know for sure what the others were. I found the information helpful. After breakfast we walked around Grand Ave., and Lakeshore Ave. She made a few work-related calls and answered a few of my silly questions. I couldn’t help but feel some of our second date magic had disappeared. I just sensed it. She wasn’t asking any questions of me and seemed ready to go. We talked back to her car and I asked when I could see her again. And then she told me where things stood. She said she was really busy the next few weeks and didn’t think we could see each other until things settled down a bit. Having heard this many times in life, I knew what she was saying. It was a very nice way of saying she was not interested. I’ve said the same thing myself. What I had perceived to be a match especially after date two was just another misfire. I told her to give me a call if she wanted, and she said she’d email me. We hugged a friend of platonic friend hug, and that was that. Perhaps we weren’t right for each other after all. But I’ll always have the magic of that second date. It really was a great night. And Becky really is a wonderful woman. I hope she means the man of her dreams and lives happily ever after.

Friday, June 8, 2007


My attitude toward SNGs online is radically different now that I understand the math behind them. As “Sheets” said, SNGs are not poker. I understand what he’s saying. They’re math problems, especially at the bubble stage. I would need a 58% advantage when calling a push on the bubble in a SNG. I didn’t realize that, but it’s true, so the strategy is to push a lot more than call. Pushing is good, calling is not if you don’t have a hand. That means in many situations folding KQ to an all in is the right play on the bubble. Doesn’t make sense, but it’s true.
I’m learning how much I need to learn in this game, and wondering if I have the abilities to become a good player. Doubt is creeping in. The reality is my long-term stats are pretty average. They’re just not that good it seems. I’ve played about 50k hands online and I’m up only $1,200 or so. That’s just horrible. At some point I have to think my bad ROI has more to do that simply bad luck. It is true that I feel horribly unlucky in poker. That may hurt my overall results. I’m constantly worrying about getting drawn out, sucked out and rivered. I may actually be folding more hands than I should as a result. The tough breaks take their toll on my psyche. I’ve been on edge this week and not very happy. The voices that berate me have come again, and it’s difficult not to engage or succumb to them. I’m very much aware of the importance of attitude in poker. It’s crucial. You have to believe you’re the best at the table and deserve to win. It helps my game a lot when I play with confidence, but for the past couple of weeks my confidence has been shaky at best.
So I guess this is my big poker push, learning the game and becoming the best I can be. If it’s a game of good decision making and taking the math and emotional components of a hand as a whole, I think with experience and practice I will continue to improve. Look what I did with racquetball.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


In over a week of study with PokerXFactor, I’ve learned more about poker than I would have thought possible. My head is spinning with all the new knowledge. I’m amazed at the depth and complexity of this “simple” game of Texas hold’em. When I played in Sit-n-Go tourneys, I really had no idea about Independent Chip Modeling or bubble play computations. I knew getting knocked out 4th was not a good thing to do in Sit-n-Gos, but I really didn’t understand the math involved in determining a stack’s effective value relative to the number of chips in the stack and the other stacks. It’s all very interesting. On, the SNG guro is a guy named “Sheets,” who has several lectures on sit-n-go strategy. I’m learning them to improve my game.
I’m amazed how many young 20-something online poker pros there are who are gambling for tens of thousands of dollars. It’s incredible. They’re very good players. I’ve been reading their blogs, which read like testosterone-laden Masters of the Universe describing their various successes and victories in the online battlefield. They buy Bentleys, take trips around the world, and play a hell of a lot of poker each day.
There is a lot of math involved in online poker, and I guess that’s what I’m bringing to my game. A lot of the math. I’m absorbing the material slowly but effectively. One of my favorite online pros is Eric “Rizen” Lynch. He’s a smart player and an accomplished writer. I like his approach to the game. I see him becoming one of the top players in the game before long.
In taking my game to the next level, I see how important it is to practice and analyze my own playing and decision-making. I’m getting better at taking my time when making decisions. I’m also trying to be patient with myself about what to expect in the short term. With two weeks remaining in acquiring my WSOP seat, my chances are certainly increasing, but it’s still going to be a big crapshoot. The game of online poker is much different than it was just one year ago. People know how to play this game. There are no more easy wins. This has been my experience in the month or so that I’ve focused on my game.
Since watching “The Secret” last weekend, I’ve been paying attention to my general attitude and mood, which has not been very good. Being unhappy seems to fallen with my comfort zone. How interesting. I have such a fantastic life, and yet I’m unhappy. Why is this? Perhaps because I am so focused on what I haven’t done, don’t have, can’t achieve, etc. The film rings true...I focus so much on what I don’t have and who I’m not. I’m shifting that energy to focuse on what I DO have and who I am. That’s where my focus on poker comes into play. Poker is an activity that I respond to because I enjoy competition and like making good decisions. I’m also disciplined and patient, and can control my emotions fairly well (though the game certainly tests my patience every now and then). By focusing on the attributes of good poker players, I can become a stronger, healthier person. It’s weird to think a game that carries with it so many negative attributes is actually the perfect way for someone like me to sustain a mentally healthy lifestyle. I’ve certainly never felt more alive than I have this month. It’s as though I’m in college again. The PokerXFactor is fantastic!
My goal is to win a seat at the 2007 WSOP! I want this. I can achieve this. I believe I have the potential to make it happen. Let’s do it!

Monday, June 4, 2007


I had a real brutal 60 hand poker session yesterday that helped define for my current tilt threshold. I had AA once, AK once, and KK twice, losing all four hands for a total of $73. In the grand scheme of things, this is not that big a deal, but for some reason I was really angry with how the hands played out, especially the AK hand which I had lost to a player who cracked my Aces. He had been calling my raises a lot and I guess I felt he felt he had my number, which he certainly did yesterday. On my AK hand, the board was AT8 rainbow. There was $5.25 in the pot, so I bet $3. My opponent called. The turn was another A. All four suits were out there, so I bet $5. He called again. I figured he must have had another ace or possibly a set of 10s or 8s for a fullhouse. That would be a pretty cold deck. The river was a 5. I bet $8 and he raised to $30. I couldn’t believe I had lost this hand again, but I felt I had. I was getting almost 3-to-1 to call, so I did. He had A5, hitting a 5 on the river for a fullhouse. I was so angry I broke my computer headphones. I smashed them into a hundred pieces. I haven’t been that angry since my limit days when I played a lot of limit hold’em online and kept losing.
So what can I learn from this. Obviously, I still have a major tilt issue that comes up when I lose big hands on the river to bad beats. Had my opponent flopped the fullhouse on the flop, I think I simply would have accepted that more than the ugly beat I took. That just makes me sick, but it’s the nature of the game. I happens every now and then, and though I accept this, it still hurts when it happens. At least I wasn’t playing for hundreds of dollars.
Anyway, on the very next hand I was dealt KK and lost to TT when the Tens hit a set on the flop. It just wasn’t my day, so I left the table and focused on other things. My Aces lost to KK when the flop was QKQ. I knew I was dead when I bet small on the turn and my opponent pushed me all in for another 18. I was getting 2-to-1, but knew I was dead. It only cost $16 more to see that I was dead, and there was a small chance that he could have had AK. Nope, he had KK. Pretty brutal day.
If it weren’t for those four hands, I would have been down around $3.75 for the day.
I have two weeks to win an entry into the World Series of Poker. I’m doing everything I can to win one. I’m studying, trying to play smart, and paying attention to my game. The players online have gotten much better and are making fewer mistakes. It’s a different world from just six months ago when Party Poker closed its doors to U.S. players. I’ve been watching the PokerXFactor videos and they are helpful. The problem is everyone else is playing in a similar fashion. I’m trying to think of a way to exploit that type of play, but I’m not there yet. I’m also trying to pay more attention when I’m actually playing. It’s difficult for me to play more than one game at a time. I don’t know how players are able to play 3 and 4 hands at a time. Is it possible to play 10 hands at a time? That just wouldn’t be fun.
If I stick with it, stay patient and don’t get discouraged, I should end up on the positive side. I sure do get discouraged though, especially when the loses keep piling up. I watched the DVD The Secret over the weekend, and I liked the positive message of attracting what you want into your life. I think so much of my life has been spent not really believing I could accomplish anything. That mantra is really ingrained into me, and I realize it’s going to take consistent effort to reprogram myself into believing I can be a success in whatever I put my mind to. What if the past weren’t so difficult to break away from. What if I simply needed to will something into being in order for it to happen.
Take it one day at a time, right, starting with a positive attitude that keeps growing throughout the day. I kept that horrid passport picture of myself for a reason...that’s what I look like when I’m not smiling. I look mean and grumpy. Unpleasant. I want to change that look to something inviting and pleasant. When I smile, my entire face lightens up. It’s true. If I can smile when I take the kind of bad beat I took yesterday, that’s when I know I’m headed in the right direction.