Have been so busy with SCOOPing I haven’t had a lot of time to think about this here Vegas trip I have coming up this week. Will say a little more about that tomorrow, which is the day Vera Valmore and I will be flying out. Have a lot of stuff planned, though, including meeting up with various blogger types and others. Like I say, stay tuned.
Wanted to write just a little today about my recent online play. Had built up the online roll a bit and moved to $1/$2 limit hold’em a while back where things were going just swimmingly for three weeks or so. Too swimmingly, really, as my win rate had climbed to a gawdy 6 BB/100 hands or something there for a while before finally settling back down into a more realistic range. Then came a nasty little crash over the last few days which ended yesterday with me doing what I did back in December and just cashing out a big chunk o’ change in disgust.
So I’m back to just a few hundy to play with online, meaning I’ll have to head back down in stakes again in order to manage the bankroll correctly. I might even get away from LHE a bit and explore some other games and tourneys in an effort to try to keep poker fun here in the near term. Try some of that change I was yapping about in my last post.
What happened yesterday was another quick, painful sequence of bad timing, misfortune, and a bit of what Ian Taylor and Matthew Hilger in The Poker Mindset refer to as “passive tilt.” That’s when you react to a bad session by starting to expect the worst (e.g., believing your opponent will always hit that draw), and thus go into “check/call mode when faced with any aggression from your opponents unless you have an extremely strong hand.”
The authors explain how unlike other, more obvious forms of tilt (when you know you’re tilting), passive tilt can often operate somewhere below conscious thought, and thus “can go undetected for a considerable period of time, especially when triggered by simply running badly.” I’m pretty sure this is what I have been dealing with the last few days, and I’m going to point to one moment in particular from yesterday’s session that kind of woke me up to what was going on.
I came to a new table and within a few hands immediately recognized the player on my left to be an especially weak opponent, doing a lot of limping and calling, showing down subpar hands, and being exploited by a couple of other, more tutored players at the table. I ended up getting into at least three hands with this player in which I lost big pots after he hit unlikely draws on the end (e.g., rivering five-outers to make two pair, filling gutshots, etc.). Then, as often happens in this situation, the guy ended up giving it all back very quickly to the rest of the table, went busto, then left.
So my mood wasn’t ideal. There were at least two very good players at the table, and since we were six-handed that meant I probably should’ve just left, too, and found an easier spot. But being down, I was stubborn about it and so stuck around.
That’s when I noticed the guy on my right was three-betting preflop every single time the player two to my left open-raised. I kept picking up winners like 7-4-offsuit, so I was folding out of those hands, of course. But it was getting obvious: the guy on my right for some reason had decided to try to isolate the other player whenever possible.
Finally those two started going at it in the chat box as well, and the gist of their conversation was that each believed the other to be a terrible player. I won’t rehearse the whole debate, other than to say there was a lot of rancor over a two-outer or nine-outer (they couldn’t decide) which one had hit against the other some time earlier. Silly stuff.
Then comes a hand in which I pick up in the cutoff. Player to my right, Laurel, raises. I three-bet. Folds to Hardy in the big blind who cold-calls, and Laurel calls as well. Flop comes a worrisome . Laurel checks, Hardy bets, I raise, and both call. The turn is the , and when both check I overcome my passive-tilty-what-if-I’m-beat fretting and bet. Both call.
The river is the . Passive tilt or not, I ain’t gonna be raising anymore on this one, I don’t think. Laurel checks, Hardy bets, I call, and Laurel check-raises. Ugh. Hardy just calls, though, so I only have to sacrifice one more bet to see this through, which I do.
Laurel shows . A boat on the river. Hardy shows . A straight. Neat. I’ve finished the hand in third place. I don’t bother to figure out what-outer it took to beat me. Neither do they.
Apologies for the bad beat story (or SIGH), but I share it mainly to say that the hand -- along with the two players’ bickering beforehand -- woke me up out of my listless, unprofitable funk and got me to the Cashier’s page. In that hand, from beginning to end, I was essentially overwhelmed by the feeling that there was no way I was gonna win it. Which is no way to operate, fer damn sure.
As was the case in December, cashing out a big chunk had an immediately beneficial effect on my overall mood. Time to regroup once again.
But first, Vegas! More tomorrow on that.
(EDIT [added 11:00 a.m.]: Just happened to notice Barry Tanenbaum posted something yesterday on a related topic, “Passive Play When Tired.”)