As I write this I am on a train to Nottingham, on my way to Dusk Till Dawn to play the WPT500.
That’s a £500 buyin tourney with £1mil gtd, so, you know, everyday stuff for me.
Except it’s not. I haven’t played a tournament with a buyin over £100 for a year. I haven’t played a live tournament with more than 150 runners for over a year. In fact, the last time I played poker like that was last year, at DTD, in the last WPT500.
I busted last year on day two, outside the money, in a spot I probably should not have taken. (Open shipped 44, from c/o, with 15 bigs, into a player on the BB who’d been on my table for a good chunk of day 1 when I’d been playing far too nitty. He tank called with 1010.)
In this tournament, I know I’m going to be playing many players better than I am. I know I am going to be surrounded by people who know far more about poker than I do, and who are actually bankrolled for this level of tournament and are just having another day at the office.
I’m a poker tourist. I’ve booked five days in a very nice spa hotel. I intend on having a massage, visiting The Galleries Of Justice Museum, and eating in a couple of nice restaurants.
I’m going to sit in a coffee shop and write, possibly wearing a beret, and Tweet mundane photos of weird buildings and comedy street names.
At the heart of it, is the poker, and if I’m honest, I’m really excited.
It’s the same sort of feeling I had when I was a kid and I was in the car on the way to a theme park, or some other thrilling treat. I can’t wait to get to the playground and go on the rides.
I remember the very 1st time I went to DTD. We were in a multi-car convey from Manchester, via Macclesfield and onward to Poker Mecca.
I was taking photos along the way, and actually clapping my hands with excited energy.
I get away with this stuff in a social context, because I’m a girl. I’m a allowed to be a bit more open with my emotions generally, but is it detrimental to my poker game? If I arrive at a poker table on Day 1A, bouncing about like a hyped-up Golden Retriever, then am I:
not in a suitable mental state to play my best game.
putting a massive target on my head as a out-of-her-depth satty qualifier who’s in no way a threat to anyone.
Am I just wasting my money?
Should I have sold the £500 ticket I won and plunged that cash back into my micro-roll?
In dealing with the first point, I am very aware of how important mental state is when you are trying to succeed at anything. I have reached a stage where I am very focussed when I play my normal $10 online tournaments. However, I am not usually excited from the first hand, I don’t get excited until I reach the last few tables; if I run deep in the WPT500 I will probably need tranquillisers, and that’s not going to help me play well.
I came 11th/2500 in a $10 tourney last night, and to get there, I made four ballsy bluff bets. Two of which were for my entire stack, one of them with absolute air, on the bubble. (Did not bluff myself out, 4bet shoved 30bigs with QQ pre into a rampaging massive stack who was after everyone’s bounty. He had AK and spiked.)
I wasn’t scared to make these bets at my normal stakes, I didn’t find it thrilling. I thought I’d found good spots, I identified that my opponents could only continue with a puny part of their range, and I bluffed, unafraid, and won valuable chips at an important time.
I’m not a habitual 0% equity bluff-machine, but in a massive field tournament, a well-timed bluff is a certain necessity in the absence of a 500 hand god-run. Will I be too excited to identify these spots when I’m playing so far above my normal stake?
So much of large field tourney play is about being less scared of being eliminated than your opponent. That lack of fear may come because you currently hold the nuts, or because you are momentarily a massive stack facing a small stack on the bubble, or because you play a high volume of these tournaments, are bankrolled to withstand the variance, and know you’re better than your average opponent.
In this tournament, I need to be holding the nuts, or somehow fish-heat my way to a massive, scary stack, because the other stated conditions are not in place here, not in a £500 tournament with £1mil gtd.
I play one of these tournaments a year, I am in no way bankrolled to cope with anything approaching this stake, and I won’t be better than my average opponent.
I’ll be better than some, and logically, I’ll be better than a higher percentage of my opponents than this time last year, because I’ve been working hard.
I like to find potentially weak opponents by asking them, sweetly, if they play on-line, if they say “no, because it’s fixed, I never win” then I see a target where their face used to be.
What about the target on my head? There will be a few really experienced live and online players at every table I sit at. I will stink of fish to them, and not just because it’s hard to wash one’s tights in a hotel room.
They will spot me like I spot the smaller fish; they will hunt me.
I should be developing a strategy to throw them off the scent, working out ways to hide the fact that I’m going to be really excited when I sit down to play this comp.
On Saturday, I’ve got to play better than my best $10 online game, in an elevated state, in an unfamiliar environment, against players who are not only better than me, but better than my usual opponents.
Shit. I’m in trouble, aren’t I?
Hmm. All this negativity could really take the shine off my nice little poker holiday. I can’t have that, I don’t have many nice holidays, I spent the last one in a puddle in Scotland.
I think I’m going to decide to consider what I can do, rather than what I cannot do.
I can have a lovely, relaxing couple of days with nice food and plenty of sleep, making sure my body is as ready as it ever is for anything.
I can forget about the money. I have been a gambler for 15 years, I’ve been in for £500 on actual bingo before now, and I sattied into this; my attachment to the material is loose at best. I can quite happily afford to lose £80 on a mad punt.
I can enjoy myself at the tables, make some friends, flirt with some middle-aged guys, wind the dealer up by telling him he can’t cut chips properly; I love the poker environment, and I can enjoy myself.
I can win.
I mean, I probably won’t, but that’s not the point. I could, I can, I might.
Maybe I’m just an over-excitable person generally, but I feel as though the only certainty I have is my own positive attitude, my own ability to shine a favourable light on everything, because most other things are out of my control.
Even the best player in the world has to dodge bullets in a massive field tournament. The best player in the world shows results over many tournaments, not one; the worst player in the world might win a tournament once.
Maybe that’s what’s so brilliant about poker, maybe that’s why I’m so excited to play in a £500 event with £1mil gtd, because I even if I’m the worst player in the world, I might still win.
That’s why I spent £80 (5% of my bankroll) and several hours on qualifying for this event (+£200 for hotel and train, +£100 for taxis and food).
I played $5+R > $109 > Seat, but DTD’s online hosting site, PartyPoker, has various formats and satties start from 1p. Yep, a freaking penny.
In total, I’m going to spend around £400 for a 5 day city-break, and on a couple of the days, I’ll be going to a grown-up theme park, on a long and exciting ride.
This is not another day at the office, this is a Busman’s Holiday; the best I can hope for is a massive win, but at very least I can choose to enjoy myself.
If I’m playing an occasional tournament at a much higher than normal buyin, I must go into it for the experience as much as for the win, because then I cannot be disappointed. I have to find intangible value in this tournament, not measurable in a cash amount.
Which brings me back to being over-excited.
I’m staring out of the train window, and it feels like the train can’t go fast enough; like a child on a long journey, I just cannot sit still.
Are we nearly there yet?
There’s always been more to poker for me than winning money, and I can’t wait to play at DTD this week. I won’t be my normal, grumpy, online-grindy self (mainly because I’m not allowed to wear my pyjamas at DTD), I will be wide-eyed and excitable; I’ll probably be quite annoying and chatty, unlucky if you’re sitting next to me.
Positive thinking does not supersede hard work and study. It cannot replace hand analysis or strategy discussion as tools for improving your ROI. An upbeat mindset will not make you more “lucky” or stop that Ace spiking the river.
There is only one thing that choosing to have a positive mindset can do, and that is give you a positive mindset. If nothing else, it’s a good starting point for a jolly holiday! If you’re at DTD this week, say hello, I might just cheer you up!