Motivation on the grind

February 1, 2009

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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Fold Equity

January 10, 2008

What is it?  And why should you care?

Well if you happen to play tournament poker, well any poker for that matter, but especially mtt’s…this is a concept you must understand and fully exploit.

Without getting too technical, fold equity is value that is created by a players likelihood to give up a hand or pot under the right conditions combined with your gained value from accumulating those chips.   Ever notice how many players will begin to tighten up their butt cheeks more than an unflowered 18 year old girl when the tournament money gets within reach…what?  I digress.   Read the rest of this entry »