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Getting back to your "A" game....

Fish Fryer Posts: 161Member
edited November -1 in NLHE Strategy Discussion
I'm curious what other people are doing to get back to playing your "A" game when you notice that you aren't on it?

I've been making a true concerted effort to make my style more aggressive and open up my game lately and have noticed that as of late, my decision making process just hasn't been great. Instead of accepting the game flow for what it is, I have been forcing bigger and bigger pots and I think I have been using aggression as a substitute for thought. Frustration has def. started to set in. This is leading me towards my first losing month (although plenty of time to turn that around) in several years. With that said, I don't really care about a single losing month, but I know that my play has not been my "A" game. Although not poker related, having a 2nd kid has cut back my time playing and I find myself gunning for bigger sessions to make up for lost total hours.

With the retooling that is going on in my game, I think I might need to get back to solid basics. Really cut back on any hands oop and and play a little more of an exploitable style for a bit. Get away from the speculative hands, tighten up, more value betting, less super thin vb, etc....

I'd be interested in what others do when you notice your play isn't what it should be. I do take notes on tough situations and have recorded every session of poker I've played for over a decade.

Comments

  • Something very similar happened to me lately. I had started to open up my game, make some more moves at pots, etc. These changes either coincided with or precipitated my largest downswing ever.

    In retrospect, I think my playing style changes initially coincided with a lot of coolers to kick off the downswing so that it began as 80-90% runbad and 10-20% playbad. However, as time progressed, my play was affected and I found myself either less aggressive than I should be at times or overly aggressive, making calls/raises that I really shouldn't have. By the end of my downswing, it was probably at least 50% playbad as the cause.

    I decided to step down a level in stakes and retool my game - get back to the ABC/TAG basics of poker and get my head right. This worked very well, and after a month of playing, I had recouped my losses. More importantly, my head is "back in the game," and I have moved back up to my previous stakes (altho still game selecting as dictated by conditions).

    All of the things you suggested (cutting back on OOP hands, tightening up, less thin value betting/raising, etc) were things that I needed to work on, and I was able to do so during my "retooling" period. But it really helped to drop down to lower stakes, where the players are much worse, to get things back on a winning track more rapidly. Secondly, since more money is made at the lower levels from fat value betting, ABC/TAG poker, this move down in stakes further reinforced the revamping of my game.

    One caveat - at least in my casino, the lower games are sooooo passive and limpy at times, that you can find yourself limping in with a non-premium from out of position if not careful (because you're less likely to be "punished" by a raise from late position), and can also find yourself overlimping with marginal hands that you shouldn't really be playing. I had to be a bit more cognizant of keeping those elements out of my game in order to compensate for the "limp-happy" nature of the game.

    TL;DR cliffs: can you step down a level in stakes?
  • Raskolnikov Posts: 3Member
    This is a great topic and I believe the most important part is honesty, which I see from both of the posts. It's so easy to blame outside agencies, point fingers, blame it on a bad run of cards. Most downswings are a result of poor play. Maybe the downswing began with some coolers and poor luck, but I'm willing to wager this was followed by poor play. This has happened to me twice this year and what I did, and am currently doing, is playing lower. I usually play 2-5, 5-5 and sometimes 5-10, but until I make $4000.00 playing 1-2, I won't move up. I also go back to a couple of books that have really helped me and continue to do so. The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler and Dynamic Full Ring Poker by James Sweenyv. It's so easy to get caught up in this game and become lazy, you must constantly be working on your game, especially when you're running well and making a good profit. Having a game plan and always sticking to it is so important so when things go sideways, which they will, you have a routine to fall on. Think about the beginning, what happened to make you successful? What methods were you applying and are you using them now? I made a lot of money my first two years of playing 1-2 no limit, why, because I had a sound routine and I did it almost every time. I moved up and have been very successful,but whenever I have a downswing, it's because I get lazy. Go back to what you did when you started and I'm sure you'll be playing your A game very soon.
  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,090Subscriber
    zach

    I think the hardest thing is to try new things and keep ones head on straight. just take a little break from the new plays. go back to the tried and true. rebuild the confidence and try again. At least you are experimenting. your competition is not and that already makes you a winner!

    Wendy
  • grindbler Posts: 131Member
    ya, poker and golf have so many good analogies.
    In golf, your swing can slowly go off the rails through the aggregate of many small mistakes, all the while you are unaware of it, and then you wonder how you got into a huge slump, and can't figure out why, and can detect no huge glaring leaks...
    In poker, same thing... we experiment with this and that, tweak things, and before you know it we wonder what the hell happened to our game that we were so confident with months earlier...
    the reality is that small leaks are infintely more dangerous than big ones... you don't notice them until they've wrecked havoc, while a big glaring one gets immediate attention... you will end up losing more with a small leak that doesnt get attention than a big one that does over the long-run...
    like raskolnikov sez, it takes brutal self-honesty; perhaps one of the chief qualities a serious player must have is honesty with oneself, IMO...

    reminds me of an internet transition kid i was playing with a while back who claimed to me 'I never tilt'.

    This intruiged me, and i studied his game a bit, and came to the conclusion as to why he thought that.
    what i saw was that he was ALWAYS on tilt, so since it was a constant, he figured he never tilted.
    he was on 'tight-tilt', and 'risk-adverse tilt' at all times, and was playing sub-optimally because of it.
    maybe he always played his A game, but that was the problem; his A game wasn't all that good...

    Tommy Angelo talks about 'lopping off your B and C games.'
    this is pure gold... sometimes we don't need to get fancy, and retool our A game. it's fine; we know how to play relative to 99% of the droolers out there, so it's not our A game thats the problem; the problem is when we THINK we are on our A game, but we are really on our B or C or worse, and we havent been on A game performance for months... we need to lop off this B/C game that is posing as A game in our mind, and have a brutally realistic outlook on the situation>

    Just the fact that youre posting this means that youre doing fine as regards this, Zach, and are going in the right direction, which is what we should be concerned with in our poker development.
    if you posted 'always on A game, but looking for a different A game' it would be hopeless...

    to me A game is when i'm feeling in the zone, and my decision making is going off as well as my level best.
    just the skill of monitoring yourself this way cannot be under-rated.

    Since i'm human, i just humbly try to focus on playing my B/C game less, and if that means not playing, then so be it, and playing more when i'm on A game, and prolonging my A game performance as much as possible.
    as a result, my average session is @3-4 hours over the last year, which i feel is an adjustment i've made that has helped my winrate.
    staying and playing when you know you are not on A game is spotting your drooler opponents an edge, which i hate to do.
    even the best players edge is not so big in poker that he can afford doing this for too long...
  • SkinnybrownSkinnybrown Posts: 286Member
    1) Have a 2bi stop loss
    2) Take more time in making decisions
    3) Review hh's with people who's game you respect
    4) Don't play high
    5) Drop down in stakes if possible
    6) Ask for "The Mental Game" by Jared Tendler for Christmas
    7) Eat healthy and exercise
    8) Study
    9) Have sex
    10) Don't play high
  • SKOOSKOO Posts: 160Subscriber
    Skinnybrown said

    1) Have a 2bi stop loss
    2) Take more time in making decisions
    3) Review hh's with people who's game you respect
    4) Don't play high
    5) Drop down in stakes if possible
    6) Ask for "The Mental Game" by Jared Tendler for Christmas
    7) Eat healthy and exercise
    8) Study
    9) Have sex
    10) Don't play high
    +1
  • SkinnybrownSkinnybrown Posts: 286Member
    Skinnybrown said

    1) Have a 2bi stop loss
    2) Take more time in making decisions
    3) Review hh's with people who's game you respect
    4) Don't play high
    5) Drop down in stakes if possible
    6) Ask for "The Mental Game" by Jared Tendler for Christmas
    7) Eat healthy and exercise
    8) Study
    9) Have sex
    10) Don't play high
    11) Add Fleetwood Mac to playlist.
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