Motivation on the grind

After spending about a year playing 20-30 mtt’s a day for 5-6 days a week, I’ve spent a little time reflecting on motivations. Why do we do what we do? And, how do we stay motivated to do it?

It seems poker has lost something for me. I still like playing, but its different. After taking an analytical, studied approach to the game, the ‘mystery’ is no longer there. After seeing ‘most’ situations, it all starts to become expected. Your win rates are relatively consistent, and you know you have a return of X for each type of tournament you play. If I maintain an ROI of 30% for each $10 tourney, then I earn $3 for each tourney played, regardless of actual finish.

This technical approach makes it kind of annoying to enjoy the game, because you have predicted your results in advance. I found, that for me personally, to handle the emotional and financial swings of online poker, it needs to be done with two things: bankroll management, and reasonable statistical expectation.

As far as bankroll management is concerned – playing with such conservative requirements is often – BORING

To make it a little more exciting, allow yourself to take a shot from time to time. Playing in $24+2 tournies regularly? Take a few shots at the $69+6’s. I’ve found that can mix up the monotony of it all….playing other games (NL v PLO etc), different formats (SNGs v MTTs v Cash), and even different sites can help reduce the mind numbing.

Having a reasonable expectation for each game played means not expecting to final table every tourney. We have a very pavlovian reward system in poker. The variance and unexpectedness of each individual event creates an addiction. Most days you have your min cashes with say 1 final table per 20 games. Of the times you reach the final table, you win approx 1 out of 10. So you can reasonably expect to ‘win’ once every 10 days. Obviously these numbers vary with the size and quality of the fields, as well as your skill level and edge against these different types of field, but knowing what your general stats are is never a bad idea.

But we already know that poker is a bitch and it doesn’t always work out so smooth. Maybe you go on a heater and win a few one week, and it takes you three months or more to win again. So you have to balance the highs and lows with reasonable expectations, which in turn creates a reduced sense of excitement for winning.

Now, don’t get me wrong – its ALWAYS fun to win. But what I’m saying is you feel a little less disappointed when you final table and finish 6th…because you know its all apart of the process.

I have a lot of respect for the Jon Turner and Shaun Deebs of the world, there are plenty examples of volume grinders, finding success, working their way up the ladder – and its mainly because of their ability to maintain motivation to continue the insane grind. For most, we are all waiting for that next ‘big win’ – and the definition of big win changes as you move up the stakes. The likes of Turner and Co are waiting for their big ‘wpt or wsop 10k win’ – most of us are waiting for our next four or five figure win. Either way, the waiting game exists…kinda like the lotto. Except the best of us get a few more lotto tickets than the rest.

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One Response to Motivation on the grind

  1. Ms. Pink says:

    Very interesting article mister. Also been in that spot, having lost the pleasure in poker. One thing is certainly true: playing according to a strict bankroll management is boring as hell 😉 Hope to read more interesting stuff in the future, grtz.

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