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Button bashing

Poker Strategy RSS / / 30 May 2011 / Leave a Comment

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Poker is a game where maintaining focus is often more important than any one hand you play, and the winners are those who survive the marathon well – not the sprint.

After a long and uneventful five thousand hand break even stretch online, I recently took a break and started to wade through Poker Tracker to see if I was just running bad, or if something much worse had been creeping into my game. One of the genuinely strange things about poker is even when you have been playing and winning for years perennial self doubt can still hit you at any time, and as I started looking over my hand histories I started to see a grim pattern emerging.

I wasn't really running bad - if anything my all in equity looked fine, but I was losing a ton of money in medium sized pots. Hand after hand I was opening, getting three bet and either folding or seeing a flop and backing down when I missed. Whenever I four bet I had a hand, and very rarely getting action. This combined effect was steadily draining all of my blind steals and all in equity.

I usually play an overly suspicious and aggressive game if anything, so to see a complete lack of four bet bluffing and float/flop moves was quite worrying, but looking back over the time I had been playing it actually became pretty obvious why. Like most players, I can easily become complacent at points, and throughout this period I had always been playing with the TV on, often browsing 2+2 and other forums, and generally just bashing buttons and auto-piloting - perfect territory to lose your bravery and dynamic play making ability.

This is an extremely dangerous thing to do in poker, as you can feel perfectly in control of your game and like you are doing all of the right things, when in reality you are playing terribly. These sessions can also prove exceptionally costly, as not only are you playing very badly, you actually believe you are playing OK, which makes you generally want to dig and even deeper hole and not quit and review your game.

In this case, not only was I playing low enough that my post/pre flop skills were enough to break even, but the games were also considerably softer post black Friday, which cushioned the blow substantially. However, this could easily have been a long losing streak had it been in different games or at a different time. Poker is a game where maintaining focus is often more important than any one hand you play, and the winners are those who survive the marathon well - not the sprint. It is all too easy to just start bashing buttons and playing on autopilot, but in reality this effect an be just as dangerous as any short tilting session, and is to be avoided at all costs.

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