I love this city 🙂

Bristol Culture

The welcome to visitors at Temple Meads is not the city’s finest, with a derelict Royal Mail sorting office on one side and empty hotels and concrete office blocks on the other. The welcome will now be slightly more colourful thanks to a new work by Inkie (below), unveiled on platform three yesterday and due to be installed soon in the station’s underpass, and an inflatable work by Filthy Luker, Pedro Estrellas and Dave Dwight next to the approach road.

Inkie  - Bristol to Brooklyn

The artworks have appeared to launch a call to artists to create a new “gateway” to the station as part of a commission for the Bristol Temple Quarter (BTQ) Enterprise Zone.

Inkie’s canvas, Bristol to Brooklyn, forms a sister piece to this one painted in New York last year (read more about the BEAM event here), and uses traditional Art Nouveau blended with New York spray painting techniques…

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Mental Strength and some Tennis!

Hi everyone, time for my weekly instalment of poker and life bits. I felt a bit slack last week in terms of content, so I thought this week I would try and come up with a more interesting post.

I am currently sat here watching the Australian Open final between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovich. Those of you familiar with tennis will know about Murrays past and his seeming inability to push himself to the next level in tennis. For those that may not know, he always seemed to struggle a lot with his own mental toughness and always appeared extremely negative and beating himself up a lot in games and in post game interviews etc. Although I am aware that there were 2 other large factors that may have been keeping him down in the rankings and in his own head, namely Federer and Nadal, it can’t be easy to keep yourself motivated and working hard when 2 of the best players in the history of the game were at their peaks and making everything seem so effortless and easy and beating you time after time.

Now before some you of start thinking I’m comparing the physical side of tennis to poker I am most definitely not, the mental toughness however is relevant in any competitive pursuit. The thing with tennis and other sports in comparison to poker is that the skill edge in poker can take a lot longer to become apparent and to show results. For example if I stepped onto a court with Andy Murray, I would never ever win, even if he was on crutches and wearing an eye patch, as the skill edge is huge and there is not enough randomness (variance) associated with the game. The same goes for something like chess, I would never beat any of the greats, even the old (and slightly mad in some cases, Bobby Fischer) or Gary Kasparov because the game is far too solved and their skill edge would be insurmountable even if I were to play hundreds of matches against them.

Poker however has this wondrous thing called variance which I spoke about a bit in a previous post, which allows total beginners/casual players (I will refrain from using terms like fish or donkeys!) to win in the short term against better players, and would also make it possible for someone like myself to sit down and play one of the worlds best like Phil Ivey, and potentially get lucky a few times and beat him. In either scenario this of course is no reflection of the true skill gap and in the long run the worse player will lose and lose and lose.

When mulittabling online everything get accelerated (I’m currently playing 12 tables at once) as you play more hands and more games and therefore experience the highs and lows (swings) a lot faster and also to a much greater degree in some cases. This is where the mental toughness comes in, as when you are constantly getting beaten by people that you know for a fact you are way better than, it can get extremely disheartening and make yourself start doubting and second guessing decisions that you know are 100% correct in the long run, but seem to go painfully wrong in the short term.

I used to be a lot more like the old Andy Murray, and still do beat myself up a lot, but it is getting better, and really does take training to build up the mental muscle to deal with bad runs of cards/games. I think it was in the second set when Murray started to flag a bit and make some mistakes that the commentators remarked on how much better he is at dealing with the missed shots and opportunities and also at appreciating when he’s been outplayed and that there’s nothing else he could’ve done in that spot. Gone are the angry facial expression and aggressive actions that used to surface and he now seems a lot calmer, which is better for his mental state, and also doesn’t give his opponent an extra edge by letting them see how distressed he is and that he clearly isn’t happy with himself, which then allows them to prey on and use to their advantage. There are of course exceptions, but overall his mental game seems a lot better.

My week has felt pretty horrendous if I’m honest (as I’m writing this I still haven’t checked my results) I felt as if I couldn’t win a hand regardless of how far ahead I got my money in, and I know in the short term this is fine, it happens, to a certain point full time players need this to happen so that weaker players think “o great I won when I played X hand  Y way so it must be to correct play” which then in turn keeps them playing badly and also keeps more dead money in the games. It is easy to lose focus of this fact though and I found myself getting increasingly wound up and angry to the point where I was swearing at myself, the screen and if i hadn’t had a self imposed chat ban, probably tapping away insulting people in the chat box!

In earlier times I would have abandoned sessions, part way through the day and spent the rest of the time whining and feeling sorry for myself. But not the new me, instead of tilting and stopping sessions and quitting for the day, I found myself either keeping playing but reducing the number of tables for a while until the rage passed. Or taking a break and doing review work and studying hands and making sure I was playing well, then after a break would start up again and play an afternoon session. This all might seem fairly straight forward and obvious to be honest but for me it definitely signals some what of a change in my mental toughness and dedication to want to push and push and get better and better at this game. The mental toughness is essential and so is a positive self image and outlook, us Brits are known for self deprecating humour it is somewhat of a national pastime to put ones self down in order to make a joke. This is all fine in context but something I have realised recently is that I make, or used to make a lot of thinly veiled whines and comments, hidden behind either making  joke out of it or seeming like I didn’t care, when really when looking at bit deeper at it, it was because I wanted some sympathy or for someone to validate me or my ability at the game. I have actually found myself typing then deleting msgs on Skype to other players and in chartrooms this week, because after I’m done typing I realise that the comment serves no purpose other than a thinly veiled whinge and self pity.

The old poker modicum goes “Whine less, play and study more, and everything will be fine” Well I don’t know if it was or is a modicum or if it does go like that, but whatever, as far as I’m concerned it does! And that’s my game plan for the next month, going full hermit mode and getting my shit together so I can achieve what I want to achieve in this game. All the guys I look up to did not get to where they are today by slacking off, cutting sessions and not doing their review and study time outside of the games, so why on earth should I expect it to happen for me without the work on my side.

So Murray has just lost to Djokovich, he obviously was feeling a lot of pain and exhaustion from the Federer match in the last round, but well done to both, it was an incredibly entertaining match, just a shame about the end result for us Brits (insert self deprecating joke here if you must).

So my week has been pretty good actually, I soldiered on through sessions I would have normally abandoned, I played more games and did more review and coaching sessions than usual (I had an extra coaching session midweek when I felt like I was losing my grip slightly!) and overall feel pretty awesome about the week. I got in days with 150+ games which is great, although I still have a lot of ground to make up after missing the first weeks of January.

Big thanks as always to my buddy and coach and sports psychology master Casy151 for going that extra mile and sorting my head out, and to Solidthought and the rest of the guys I’ve spoken to and worked with this week.

Games: 807

Profit/Loss: – $44.80

Coaching/Review: 2/4

Next week, more of the same, 150 games/day+ and try and make a dent in my missed weeks.

Cheers for reading everyone, I hope you had a good weekend and have a brilliant upcoming week. See you all next Sunday

Good start and finish, shame about the middle :)

Good start and finish, shame about the middle 🙂

Another woefully below EV week, playing well, so it'll be fine :)

Another woefully below EV week, playing well, so it’ll be fine 🙂

First Post of 2013

Hello everyone, I hope you are all well and haven’t frozen or fallen on the ice recently! 

After my end of year post I was full of confidence and motivation and was ready to “hit the ground running” as I put it. The reality so far is more of me face planting into the ground while trying to run on ice. 

Without going into it too much my volume has been awful so far, I am way off pace already  and have a lot of ground to make up. Reasons for this vary from illness, hangovers (from xmas/nye/nyd and my birthday bash last week) and bits of work and the such. 

This week was the first week I tried to get back into a proper grinding routine, I smashed out some days with 100-150 game sessions although I scaled back to 10 tables again until I get rid of all the rust after not playing for basically a month. After this rather extended break my head was really not in the zone, I wasn’t thinking hands through, I was checking my results mid session, I was getting angry and tilted by standard stuff and then spazzing off chips in other games or just stopping sessions. I felt like I was back to starting from scratch again in some ways. I did get my act together though and put in quite alot of review work and hand discussion with other players, which was good and helped get rid of alot of the rust just by double checking my lines as I do tend to start second guessing myself after a couple of bad days, it’s good to know I was actually playing pretty well. 

I also had it in my head that for some reason as it was a new year and I ended last year feeling so good, that I was some how entitled to having some awesome winning sessions to start the year with. This is of course total nonsense, the maths and variance doesn’t care what day it is, who you are, or owe you anything. Long story short I got smashed to bits every day this week, some of which I totally take responsibility for as I wasn’t playing my best and lost my mind a few times and just dumped off chips in spots where I know better than that! The upside of this is atleast I’m coming back into the game and having to deal with the not fun side of it straight away, rather than having a great start to the year and getting a false sense of security and thinking I’m invincible and that the year will carry on that way.

One of my goals for this year is to work on my mindset and mental approach to the game, as I have always struggled with it, this had lead me to reading Jared Tendlers book, The Mental Game of poker, as in training yourself and your brain to deal with the ups and downs of full time poker playing, not “omg poker is such a mental game”. The book is incredibly good and insightful and not only applies to poker but to alot of “normal” day to day life and attitudes towards things. I’m going to stop there before this ends up sounding like a plug, but I would highly recommend it to anyone that plays poker semi seriously. 

Another part of working on my mental game is to keep a brief daily poker diary to keep track of how I’m feeling after sessions and so I can keep notes on what I’m doing well or what I need to work on. This might sound a bit silly, but even just after a week of doing it has been a help, and over the course of the year I think it will be interesting to look back over. 

In my last post I also mentioned about the clash between hitting SN and the festival I’m involved with, thankfully SN rolls over til March the following year, regardless of how much you play after hitting it, so no need to take time off the festival to grind. I can can both, wohoooo 🙂 

So after a really slow start to the year I’m almost back to normal and looking forward to tackling next week head on and hitting all my volume targets. 

This weeks breakdown: 

Games: 430 

Coaching/Review: 1/3 

Profit/Loss: -$239.76 

Thanks for reading everyone, I hope I haven’t lost too many followers after my absence for the last week or so. Happy new year everyone, take care and see you next Sunday. 

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Off to a sickly start!

Happy New Year guys, I hope you all had an excellent holiday period. 

Mine was great, alot of fun, food and booze 🙂 

Unfortunately since working New Years Day I have been extremely run down and ill and as a result have played precisely…….0 SnGs so far this year.

Which is not good at all, thos that read my last post will know how adamant I was about hitting the ground running this year, start as you mean to go on etc etc 

I have managed to get behind before the year has even started, which means the rest of the month is going to be some long sessions, some evenings and some weekend play to get caught up by the end of the month.

I’m confident I can do it though, and after another day in bed drinking cough medicine and water and eating vitamins hopefully I will be back in full effect in a day or so! 

I would also like to apologise to everyone that checked in for my update on Sunday, as this year started on a Tuesday, I was going to update it every Tuesday for this year, although looking at it now this will be a bit odd and especially now as I’m behind already keeping exact weekly updates isn’t as important. 

Soooooooo I will go back to making my posts on Sundays as I did last year, for now I am going back to bed to sleep and feel rough. 

Take care everyone and I’ll see you all soon.