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Poker Blog established in 2003 as the first stop for poker news, poker stories, and bad poker advice.

May 30, 2006

Getting Stuck On Purpose

by Otis

The bar was just about to get loud. The G-Spot is one of those places that is a comfortable watering hole until the band starts up. Then it gets loud and it's hard to hear each other talk. I was with BadBlood and my buddy, T. We were talking marriage and family. For the 30-40 married man, it's one of the most important discussions to have with your like-minded friends.

It was during this discussion that I had an odd poker epiphany.

I think I get stuck on purpose.

I'm not fully in tune with this topic yet. I'm not even sure where I'm going with it. I can only sum up the general premise. Then, perhaps at a later date, I'll be able to fully explain what I mean.

Of course, I don't want to get stuck. I don't want to have to play from behind. I don't ever want to lose.

However, in dealing with my wife, I often start off by acting badly. Whether I am being selfish, lazy, or otherwise manish, I tend to not act in a way I know my wife wants. After doing this for a given amount of time, I realize I'm not acting in a winning manner and starting acting--in earnest--the way I know I should behave around my wife. It usually takes twice as long to make nice-nice as it takes to make her mad. Had I just acted right in the beginning, life would've been better all around.

The same, it seems, goes with poker. I begin many sessions by playing loose, aggressive poker. I may not be playing badly, per se, but I am not playing my usual game. When we play a game that is not our "A" game, we aren't playing optimally. As such, I begin many (if not most) sessions by getting stuck a little, or, more recently, a lot. Then, I spend the rest of the session getting even. Since it is possible for me to get even and sometimes actually recover enough to make a profit, I have to assume that I have the ability to play the game at that level. It's just a matter of convincing myself to play the right way.

So, I'm not getting stuck on purpose in either case. In reality, I think there is a selfish gambler in me that wants to see how much I can get by with. Can I play poker six nights a week with setting off the bad marriage-o-meter? Can I check-raise with second pair and get my opponent to fold? In most cases, the answer is no on both counts. And yet, I try.

There is a reason why good people can get divorced. There is a reason why good players can lose. I am fortunate that my marriage is solid and I am always improving my married man behavior. I'm learning that it's better to give up some of the selfish things I enjoy for the relative tranquliity of not having to dig out of a hole.

Now, I need to teach myself to do the same in poker.

That is, the game starts when I sit down. Not when I'm stuck.

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