Why Play Poker?

First posted : Friday, Feb 9, 2007

I’ve been practically non-existent when it comes to playing poker the last few weeks, only playing the odd league game or 10-20mins on a cash table. This has given me time to think about poker in general, my overall play and what I want from the game. Do I want to make a living from it, or play it for fun? Do I feel comfortable playing or feel out of my depth? Here’s what I’ve come up with…

First off, let me tell you why I sort of left poker on the back-burner. A few weeks ago, I was playing daily scheduled MTT games at Absolute Poker, for a meagre buy-in of $5. I have mentioned them in previous entries. Anyways, after doing quite well in these games, but not quite reaching the payouts, I played a blinder of a game in which I finished 2nd for a nice payout of $295. I then played the same game for a few days after this, but found I had lost all enthusiasm for playing. Ten minutes into the game, I just couldn’t be bothered and didn’t care when I went out. So basically, I was throwing money that I had worked hard to earn (through poker) down the toilet.

This set alarm bells ringing in my head. I couldn’t understand why I felt the way I did. I just put it down to cards not going right for me and tiredness, but most of all, a slump in my overall play and luck. To a certain extent that’s true. But having time to think about things a bit more deeply, I came up with another reason which quite surprised me.I reasoned that after my $295 payout, that I could beat anybody, anytime, any day! A very dangerous way of thinking! You see, the game I won the money was full of monkeys – those very poor players who bet with anything. It was just a matter of time before I beat them as I know I am a better player than them. Only when you are down to the last 50 players in these tournaments do you see the decent players. But that line of thought brought me to the real reason for my drastic fall from grace…..I had lost my purpose, or for a better way to look at it, had no goal when playing poker!

You need a goal to aim for in anything you do, and I’m lacking a ‘goal’ as far as poker is concerned. Beating the monkeys was something I aimed for. I showed great determination in reaching my goal and was rewarded with the 2nd place. Now I have to find another goal to aim at. You may think that I should be aiming to win every game, but it’s not as simple as that. There are times when I play league games just for the sake of playing them, to boost numbers and to play with friends. But most of the time, I couldn’t care less if I win or not. If you don’t care about winning then 99% of the time you won’t win. You’ll basically be throwing you money away.

So, now I DO have a goal to aim for. As I said a few entries ago, I started using a poker tracker to keep tabs on my wins/losses. So far I’m in profit for tournaments, S&G’s and cash games. I have now stuck down an amount that I am aiming to win for each of these games, over the year. Not too high an amount, but ones that I should be capable of reaching. To reach the amounts I’ve put down I NEED to do well – that is, make the cash payouts – in the majority of the games I play. Keeping this in mind ANY time I play, should keep my focus at the table. I have to try and not be side tracked, whether it is through family, friends, alcohol, tiredness or whatever.

To put all this into action, I have to come up with a routine when preparing for a game, especially an MTT. I’ll share this plan in the next post.

So, ask yourself the question…. What do I want from Poker?

If you want to make money, make sure you have a goal to aim for. Try and not lose sight of this goal. Tell yourself not just that you NEED to do well, but ARE going to do well. Positive thinking can take you further than you think. Thinking positively will subconsciously help your game. You will be more focused and pick up on loads of things at the table that you wouldn’t necessarily do when you are just playing for a bit of fun.

At the very least, go window shopping and pick out something you would like to get, but is maybe out of your price range. Make it your goal to WIN enough money at poker to pay for it. Keep that in the back of your head while playing. However, please don’t go down the road of “if I can win this I can pay off the phone bill, electricity bill” etc… If you don’t have the money to pay the important every day stuff you shouldn’t really be playing poker for money. Puting pressure on yourself to win could turn out to be a big mistake, as you won’t be focused on the poker game. You will be focused on trying to pay off a debt. Don’t get sucked down this road! Using money you cannot afford to spend is a gamble not worth taking.

Lastly, have a check at Blagger’s blog. Me old mate Blagger carried out a little strategy experiment over a month or two and got good results from using the strategy. But he also came up with a few other things too. Have a look at it here.

Next time around, as promised I’ll give you my ideal preparations before playing a tournament. Cya then!


Blagger: Nice one Gopher and sound advice. The ability to step back and revaluate things from the “outside” is something we all should be doing on a regular basis.It is almost impossible to get a perpsective and realistic view on things when we are caught up in just playing the game, day in day out.

I think a few weeks ago, you and I and some members of the league started to become a little disillusioned on why and what we playing for.

After the little ‘kerfuffle’ on the forum where some strong opinions were voiced, a few of us seemed to be re-invigorated again.

And you are spot on in your observations that unless you keep that self-analysis keen, you will be in danger of sliding back to where we were before.

I set myself targets right at the start of the year. One of them was a simple money target I wanted to reach by the end of the year. Now I know how much I need to win each week/month if I want to keep up with my stated goal.

If 3 months down the line I find I am achieving that goal too easily then I will re-evaluate my target and adjust it.

If on the other hand I start to drop behind my expected goal then I’ll just be forced to improve my game.

I also promised myself to read at least 6 poker books this year. One every two months should be easily manageable, man I could do that on the potty each morning. lol

I know how sharp a player you can be mate, I have seen yah on the felt. If you keep up this self criticism and analysis in such a positive manner, I know you are going to just get better and better.

Just by the efforts you already employ to try and improve your game indicate, to me at least, that you WILL improve beyond the sound player you already are.

Through your own reflections you have recognised something about poker that many will never grasp for as long as they play the game, that being;

That more often than not, your most formidable oppenent is yourself.

Feb 12, 2007, 05:28 AM

Dagopher: I have to say its been too long since I stepped back and looked to see what my goals are and if my general play has improved, or more to the point, what needs improving.
I think everyone should do this at least once a year. You should be re-evaluating where you are sol as not to get into a groove and end up standing still.
Thanks for the positive comments Blagger. Its good to know that someone else recognises what I’m trying to do here and can see the importance and benifits of it. Hopefully my head will be back in gear for March where I can really start focusing on all the points I’ve posted about – even the basics!
Feb 14, 2007, 09:03 AM


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