Where Have all the Fish Gone?Observations of the Baby Shark and the Harsh Reality from the Fisherman.
I’ve been playing poker online for the past 18 months. Before that I was strictly a home-game player, usually taking money off guys that were there to talk rather than to play cards. I was the big fish in that pond, which is what made me decide to go online. When I first started playing online, I was on fire. I was winning at least $300 a month playing very low stakes cash games and a few small sit and gos. I struggled when I moved into larger limit games, but when I played at the “appropriate” level, I did very well.
Since last February, I have been losing steam like a leaky locomotive. I rarely win, and when I do its usually by the luck of the draw rather than by anything that I did consciously. I can’t seem to pull it together at all – what is wrong with me?
Talk to occasional poker players and this is the story you hear every time. They used to win, and now something has gone terribly wrong.
Most likely, one of two things has happened, either the player isn’t actually very good, and his early wins were more the fault of luck and variance than skill, or the player hasn’t advanced as quickly in his ability as the other players online.
A bit of both is usually the case. Players who are unlucky in the beginning of their career often change sites or stop gambling all together. This phenomenon is about saving your ass. If you get fleeced each time you play poker online, you probably stink and shouldn’t be playing at all. These players try to win at the practice tournaments and in the Free Rolls, but hell or high water, they stay out of the money games or look for new hobbies. The end result is that the terrible players you used to beat are all gone and now you, the best terrible player, is a guppy among sharks.
If you don’t think that your poker playing shortcomings are simply a result of a genetic defect, then you may not have been riding the poker wave at the crest – in fact you are probably still paddling out beyond the break trying to catch the wave. If this is you, there is help out there. First thing to do is go and get some quality poker training software. Double Diamond makes great poker training software and it really helps you gather the finer points of playing position and assessing opponents. It also allows you to play online against real players who play this game like there was actual cash at stake.
The next thing to do is to go out and find yourself a few good books on playing poker. Doyle Brunson’s Super System is the bible, and his Super System II is like the New Testament. You must read one of these books before you ever put another chip in the pot. Anything by Mike Caro will help you, and if you really need to brush up on the basics, I suggest you get one of the free guides to playing Texas Hold ’em offered by most of the big poker sites. The free guides are made for the pure beginner and will give you the fundamentals to read the more advanced books mentioned above.
After all that, go and get a second job, because you need to be able to play with enough cash in the bank so you don’t go hungry for the first few months while you get back up to speed. If you have a good job and plenty of money, that’s good too but not as good, because you should be hungry at the tables – but it’s nice not to worry about your next meal.
When you start to play online, after you’ve read all the books and you’ve mastered the training software, you will need to learn focus. Focus is the key, and that’s why the internet poker generation left you behind in the first place. They were out there training in the trenches and you were sitting on your ass, with your nice cushy job, not worrying about the money. You became Rocky in every movie after Rocky III – fat and lazy, now you need to get old school to win the title back. Don’t be Rocky III ever again – if you want to play in today’s poker game you must always improve your game, because the general skill level in the game s growing faster than a porn star on Viagra.
If you’ve done all the above and you are still losing, the odds are that you have wrongly assessed your ability and you are probably retarded – in a poker sense – simply lacking the all-in gene. If that’s the case, do everything aforementioned, but substitute the word backgammon wherever it says poker in this article – you’ll thank me later.