Monday, July 11, 2005


This week's discussion topic is emotion. You hear so many pros talk about this topic. The problem is the inability of many players (me included) from becoming emotionally invested in the game.

I remember when I first started playing, I would marry those pocket Aces. Until death of my bankroll or the river, whichever came first (in those days, my bankroll). Why? I was emotionally invested in the hand. Aces never lose, right? Be aggressive, push with them, right? I can't lay down the best starting hand in poker....but that's what it is, the best STARTING HAND. Not the best hand after the flop, turn, or river. Just the best pre-flop.

Sometimes you get the feeling that a player or players are targeting you, reraising you on purpose. Pushing you around. A lot of times, you are right. They have tagged you as an emotional player and have decided to get under your skin and put you on tilt. And it works.

The hardest part of the game for me lately is dealing with normal variance. I no longer am married to the Aces. I may raise pre-flop, but if warning bells start going off I can lay them down. I have learned to play smarter, and have started to study my game and see that I am no longer emotionally invested in any individual hand.

But, looking at my play, I am still emotionally invested in the game. When I have a bad day or week and my bankroll is seeing some "variance" I get grouchy. I get a short fuse and bark at the wife, Mrs. Fan. I neglect the list of stuff I need to do around the house and mope. If I have a good day or week, I have more energy and get a lot more done. I have learned to let go of emotion during single hands, but am still working on the emotion around my entire game.

I understand why a lot of internet pros talk about depression. It is hard, hard work. I don't think I will ever even try to be a pro, I don't think I could handle the swings and the emotions that go with them unless I can learn to not be so invested in the game.

But the bankroll is what a player uses to determine how well they are playing. It is your "score" as to how good a player you are. It is a vicious circle. You have to learn to not hold on to your score in order to be truly competitive.

So, here I am. Trying to learn from my mistakes of being too invested. I'm going to make a real effort for the next several weeks to not care about my bankroll, and not be obsessive about it. Hopefully, I can let it go and become a better player. If anyone has advice on how you have managed these situations, please start some comments or drop me a line. See you at the tables.


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