Friday, January 15, 2016

To Thine Own Self Be True

The title of this particular blog is one of my wife's favorite sayings.  It certainly applies to poker.  If you're not honest with yourself you will miss many opportunities to improve your game.  We all make mistakes.  Are they random or do they constitute a pattern or a trend?  If there is a pattern or a trend it must be recognized, acknowledged, admitted, then action taken to change the trend or pattern.  One of my favorite sayings also applies here:  "Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn"--Benjamin Franklin.  If I am not honest with myself then I am willfully remaining ignorant about my shortcomings.  Again, this philosophy applies directly to poker.

In November of last year my cards were running really well.  I won or placed in several tournaments.  Then I placed second in the $20K Guarantee at the Beau the first weekend of December.  Notice I said the cards were running really well for me?  I didn't say I was playing particularly well.  I wasn't!!  And I knew it.  Obviously I was playing reasonably well or the results wouldn't have been so good but I knew I wasn't playing so well as to deserve my results.  My game was in need of some improvements.  If I hadn't been honest with myself by recognizing and admitting that my good results were largely due to some good luck rather than my brilliance, then I would have settled into a pattern of substandard play that could have haunted me for months.

My string of good luck ran out on me for the rest of December and so far this month and my results were what would be expected--not so good.  However, the results are, again, deceiving.  My game is a lot better now.  I corrected some things, improved in a couple of areas, and made a major change in style.  I truly believe my game is the strongest it has ever been.  It seems strange to say this since my ultimate results certainly don't reflect any drastic improvement in my game.  In fact, based strictly on results, my game was better in November than it is now.  But I know better because I recognized in November that my game was in dire need of repair despite indications to the contrary based on results.  I have made adjustments accordingly and my results will reflect my improvements over time.

Just to be clear, if your results are poor over a long stretch then your game is in dire need of improvement.  Luck can only be blamed for a short while.  I've heard people talk about "a bad year".  If you've had "a bad year", it's your game.  Have no doubt.  However, short term results can be deceiving.  A run of good luck can easily be mistaken for better play and, conversely, a run of bad luck can be mistaken for a deterioration in you game.  You have to recognize the difference, admit it to yourself (To Thine Own Self Be True) and act in accordance with your honest assessment of the state of your game.

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