Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Notable Nugget

“Cards are merely the tools for manipulating money”

The above quote contributed to another ‘click’ moment. I had never heard put quite that way before, but let me say that it gave me a completely new perspective on this oftentimes infuriating game. Only time will tell, but that tiny statement may be the most important thing I have read about poker in quite some time. Why? As you can read just about anywhere, a HUGE part of this game is emotional control. To play great you need to exercise cold logic, be utterly rational, and not allow those pesky and swingy emotions to take over.

Of course, it’s easier to type about than to actually put into practice. With consistent play, such things become easier many times. However, when you play as little as I do (especially lately), emotional control (which=good play most often) can be lacking if one or more of the few sessions played turns out bad. At least in my case, this will many times lead to blaming luck, not catching a break, etc., when the simple fact is I haven’t used my tools correctly.

Granted, luck and randomness and all that DO play a part in this game. That said, let me say that the above tiny sentence merely helped shove the luck, etc., further onto the backburner, where it rightfully should be. When I sit down with my chips, I am the manipulator, the onus is on me. If I lose, more often than not it’s because I haven’t used my tools to manipulate things correctly within the current conditions of the game. The cards don’t use me, I use them, and I think on some subconscious level I had been thinking just the opposite, hence the emotional control breakdowns. If I choose to use a mediocre tool to try and manipulate things, I may or may not get the job done, but being a manipulator means that I can only blame myself, and being upset with myself is much easier to handle and correct than being upset at the cards and how they happened to run at a particular moment. After all, I can correct the way in which I handle the tools I’m given in a particular session, but the cards are how they are (or, if you speak jive, they is how they is).

But what about the chips? Aren’t those tools, as well? In my humble opinion, sort of, but I think that they play the role of augmenting your tools (cards) more than anything else. Perhaps using a gamer analogy will help make more sense, since I fear I’m not being completely clear. Let’s use a role-playing example. The character in question has a weapon/tool (the cards), and the effectiveness of it will many times be determined by the strength with which it is wielded. The chips are the strength that augments the use of your weapon/tool (the cards). If your weapon/tool is sub par, you can wield it with all of the strength (chips) at your disposal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will beat into submission whatever is in front of you. In fact, if your weapon/tool is weak, worn, small (insert favorite euphemistic adjective here), you will likely only ding your adversary in a couple of spots before being crushed by the bigger, badder, and stronger weapon/tool.

Well, hopefully the above nerdy example helped clear the waters instead of further muddying them. I guess what I’m most trying to say is this: Take Iggy’s words and think about them, I mean REALLY think about them. Properly internalized, I think they go along way towards keeping detrimental emotions in the background where they should be and elevating your personal game.