Thursday, February 17, 2005

Tilt and Tourneys, Pt. II

"To live for results would be to sentence myself to continuous frustration. My only sure reward is in my actions and not from them."

--Hugh Prather

I wanted to post this first thing this morning, but alas, work got in the way…..

There seems to have been quite a tilt resurgence in the last week or so, experienced by not only myself, but by quite a few others in the blogger community. What an insidious little parasite tilt is, recently prompting me to think of it in the same vein as herpes.

“There is currently no cure for tilt, and even with treatment, it may be possible to spread tilt. Consult a more experienced mentor if you plan on becoming gambually active.”

But under certain conditions, spreading the tilt can be great for my bankroll! Yes, this is true, and I can definitely think of specific examples of players to whom I would like to give the gift of the proverbial herpes (TILT, for those of you not quite following). However, giving tilt is a subject in and of itself, and best left for another day, and for that matter someone else, as I am certainly no master when it comes to tilting others.

In dealing with our own tilt, I thought that it might be appropriate to relate my BALLS Theory. But before I do, let me tell a quick story…..

…about a guy named Donnie Todd, or as he is better known, DT, and his brother Shawn.. Stories abound about DT, and all are hilarious, but they are also best saved for another time and place. Shawn was kind of retarded. Not full-on, but let's just say he was late when intelligence got passed out and ended up with the consolation prize. One Christmas, Shawn decided to make DT a card, trying to say, “You are the best brother in the world.” The actual card read: “You are the borther of all.” From then on, if anyone does something great or something is the biggest or best, we simply say “You are the borther” or “It’s the borther.”

The BALLS Theory stands for Borther of All Loosely Linked Superstitions. (Make sense now?)

Remember reading Super System, when Doyle speaks of the fact that he doesn’t care whether rushes are real (in the scientific, measurable sense) or not, they are real in his mind? This theory of mine kind of runs along those same lines. During a long tournament, I like to pay attention to how the cards are running. Do PP’s seem to be hitting more than usual? Are the AK, AQ hands missing flops and losing races pretty regularly? Are a lot of flushes coming for people? I know, some people will laugh at, deride, and debunk this silliness till the day they die. Slansky and Malmuth would probably seize up and die at the sheer idiocy of it. After all, the cards have no memory, there aren’t really any poker gods. I’m still convinced however, that the cards have trends and cycles, even if I don’t have any kind of hard proof to back any of this drivel up. It is the BALLS theory that helps me to make a decision on whether or not to put my 88 in a race with the guy who I know holds AK and just went all-in for a good portion or all of my stack. If I’ve seen a lot of these hand types losing to small or medium PP’s throughout the night, I will most likely choose to play it safe and battle again at a different time when I perceive conditions as being more in my favor.

(NOTE: For me personally, I don’t think that this would work very well live, as I don’t see enough hands fast enough to “divine” anything.)

Poker is all about attacking and retreating at the right time. And while I can hear the peals of laughter ringing out from the blogsphere, I care not. I’m going to stick with this theory even if it is factual rubbish. It has served me well more often than not.

To wit: Last night I got the opportunity to play in a PL $10+1 MTT, my favorite game, and the only one where I’ve made a lot of final tables. PokerStars doesn’t have them nearly as often as I’d like, and they always seem to take place at inopportune times. Just under 500 people entered, so I immediately began applying my BALLS to the game, and it was working well this night

Late in the tourney (about 20 of us left), abracadabra, I get AK suited, and boy is she a beaut. I don’t have trouble playing AK unsuited, but it’s so pretty when suited, and looks so powerful, I turn into a retarded kid that just got set loose in a room full of stickers and prize jars. I make a big mess, and something (normally my stack) gets destroyed.

I’m beginning to get a little low in chips at this point, and a player who is shorter than me by about a third (who, consequently, is very aggressive and loves to push marginal holdings and/or pure shite) pushes his whole stack in after I limp. I know he has a small PP.

At this point, inside my head I could see that damn marketing bastard from MacDee’s walking towards me with that stupid grin on his face. Will he delude and persuade me as he did last eve? Not tonight, my friends. I proceeded to kick him swiftly in the nuts before his silver tongue could chide me into doing something stupid. I opt instead, to take a good hard look at my BALLS.

My BALLS told me that AK and its cousins had been missing quite a bit. If I lost this race, I would be crippled, with no chance to win. I opt to fold. Lo and behold there is another caller with AQ and Shazam! the guy hits his set. My BALLS have saved me from tournament disaster.

Rather than drone on for pages about the particulars of the tourney, I’ll let you know that my BALLS helped lead me to yet another PL final table and a very respectable third place finish for a tidy payday of nearly $500. Why did I relate this in such a long-winded fashion? Yes, not tilting is much easier said than done. No, I’m not trying to make everyone a believer in my BALLS Theory (although feel free, if you like). I guess the point is, really try and find something that is uniquely yours that helps you to avoid tilt, even if it is in NO WAY FACTUAL. Keep striving to focus on your play and not the results of it (once again, easier said than done). If I hop into a cash game, and my BALLS tell me that the cards are not running favorably with the hands I am dealt, I quit for a while (or even the night), thus avoiding a tilt. And hey, even if you do actually begin tilting, making yourself laugh always helps more than you might realize. Just remind yourself that your BALLS can’t work every night without rest, it’s just not natural. Plus, saying BALLS is just plain fun.

Have a great time at the tables everyone, and remember……even though factually my theories may be wildly incorrect, I’m making every effort to Think Big, whilst my head remains Much Bigger.