Brutal – Episode 3

Ten days after the incident I’m beginning to feel a lot better. That’s a good thing, because although I don’t know it yet, after the mugging and the operation I’m about to go through another brutal and testing experience. 

Poker Stars have a special promotion in May for UK based players. They will upgrade your VIP level one notch above whatever status you achieve in this month. I need to earn 7,500 points to achieve Supernova status. This represents a great leapfrog forward in the capacity to earn cashback and other bonuses in the future, and is really too good an opportunity to miss. To achieve my goal I will need to play a couple of hundred single table tournaments.

I start work in earnest on the Monday, playing a few $60 turbo 6 max tournaments at a time. The top two places in these tournaments pay, and I have a successful history playing this format. I run bad and fail to cash in thirteen of the fourteen tournaments I play. When you’re playing turbos, the swings happen quickly. A good run is a rush and a bad run leaves you feeling stunned. I’m stunned. I turn the computer off and rest. 

On Tuesday I begin by playing a set of 8 tournaments and lose 7 of them! I’m a little angry and shocked at how bad I’m running. If I was playing at a higher level I would be thousands of dollars in the hole. This is the worst run of sit-and-gos I’ve ever experienced. I take a break and resilience kicks in. I have a clear goal that I need to achieve. Although I’ve lost money I have earned about one-third of the points I need. I have a few days left in May to get them. I want to complete this goal by Thursday night, to give me the opportunity to visit friends in Stoke on Friday and Saturday. As well as becoming Supernova, the goal is also to continue playing well when things are going bad.

Running bad means two things are happening again and again. Firstly you are getting all your chips in as a favourite then getting outdrawn. Secondly you make a strong hand when your opponent has a stronger hand. 

Looking for positives – this bad run gives me a great opportunity to become mentally stronger as a player. Getting my money in as a big favourite and losing really highlights the poor standard of play displayed by my opponents, which shows that I can expect to win at this game. Also running bad makes you search a bit harder for leaks in your play. 

I change my game a little when I continue to run rags into riches – pushing a short stack into one or two players when I hold rags and expect them to fold. They keep showing up with a decent hand and I realise I can get a just a little bit shorter or have some kind of a hand before being this desperate. I also notice that I’m not a great multi-tabler. When playing more than four games at a time its hard to know the individual tendencies of each player, and it feels less like playing against humans. Playing more tables also gives me less time to think through every hand carefully.

I make a couple of mistakes which lead me to question whether I am mentally 100% yet. On one occasion something on the screen obscures my cards and I play a whole hand with AJ when I actually hold JJ. Another time I get frustrated at the end of a sit n go and shove all in holding second pair when my opponent’s raise tells me that he has at least top pair. Also I notice that I’m becoming irritated at losing more than one game in succession. I remind myself that in the larger scheme of things, the outcome of a few sit-n-gos is almost irrelevant. 

I’m reminded of what a player once told me about how one  separates the good players from the bad players. Its not how you win that’s important, its how you lose. Anyone can play well when things are going good and the cards fall into place. When things are not going well, the good players keep their heads and the bad players lose their heads. The good players keep playing well and lose the minimum. The bad players start moaning and groaning. They forget about winning and start to let go, finding ways to give up. Getting angry or going on tilt is just a way of giving up when things get tough. Its weak. 

I put on the theme from Rocky and turn the speakers up. 

I plough forward, playing a set of four tables at a time and taking a break after each set. I continue to lose. I continue to stay positive. Wednesday comes and gos. I’ve lost every day for a week, but I’m closing in on my points target. 

I enter a load of results into my spreadsheet and it looks wrong, like I’ve made a load of duplicate entries. In fact I have whiffed that many sit-n-gos. 

I kick Thursday off in familiar style by losing a couple of tournaments and then… 

‘I knew it… I knew I was alright.’ 

Lose, lose, lose becomes win, win, win. Throughout the afternoon and the evening I go on a sick run of cards and a large upswing. I feel that my response to the downswing of the last few days has laid the foundation for today, enabling me to get the maximum when things finally started to go right. I finish in profit for the week and with Supernova status secured. More importantly, I’m back to nearly full health as a person and I’m a stronger poker player.

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