Review of 2016 and a preview of 2017

PokerTalkGraphicWow – is 2016 over already? It seems like yesterday I was toasting the New Year coming in; playing that fun first hand of the year; and making those New Year’s poker resolutions – promising myself I would play better.

Playing better meant not chasing those long shot one-outers – and I stuck to this until mid-January. Playing better also meant getting up from the table when ahead when the cards start to turn – and I stuck to this until the third week in February. Finally, playing better meant not allowing the game to beat me up – and I stuck to this until early March when I allowed a player to get under my skin, played too long, and had a big losing session. Once I veered from the game I wanted to play, I found myself making the same mistakes on occasion throughout the rest of the year – costing me money.

Just like the lead character Mike McDermott narrates from the book “Confessions of a Winning Poker Player” in the iconic poker movie Rounders, “Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career” – I sure remember the beats from above that occurred in 2016.

I find that poker is kind of like a diet – if you stick to your commitments and do what you know you should do, the weight comes off but, if you break your own rules and lose some weight for a short period of time, you will not lose as much as you should in the long run.

Poker is the same way – if you play bad even for just one hand, it creates bad habits (like calling for long shot draw) and, while it may feel good at the time, in the long runs cost you. Looking back at the year, it’s clear I broke my commitments to myself and did not win as much as I could have.

My results for 2016 turned out all right – I won a bit and averaged just over $8 an hour while playing. Winning sessions outnumbered losing sessions by nearly a 3 to 2 ratio with my largest win just over $4,000. In that specific session I did get up as the cards began to turn and felt that I left with everything I could. My biggest loss was $2,900 and was due to staying at the table much too long in the session mentioned above.

The majority of my play in 2016 was at the $30 – $60 Limit Hold em game with just over 20 percent of hands played at the $2 – $5 / $100 Limit Hold em game. Interestingly enough, I did not have a winning record at the $2 – $5 game but did at the smaller and less played $1 – $2 / $100 Limit Hold em game. This may be because when I played the smaller game I was always waiting for a bigger game so played better, tighter, and more conservative to get a good start to the session.

But with the mistakes I continued to allow myself to make throughout the year, I firmly believe the wins were not as big as they could have been. In the corporate world, we call that Will vs. Want – in other words I knew what to do and had the will but chose to do something else so did not have the want to stick to my plan.

My rallying cry for 2017 is simple – “Don’t break my own rules – play well all the time!” I know how to play so I have the will – now I have to stick to the want, show some discipline, and see the long-term results!

This will mean not chasing those long shot one-outers and sticking to the percentages; this also means getting up from the table when ahead when the cards start to turn; and finally, not allowing the game to beat me up. It means to have fun when playing; play to win; and make the game fun for others no matter what has happened with the cards.

Back before the World Series became such a huge global event, the same Mike McDermott from the movie Rounders said “Why do you think the same five guys make it to the final tale of the World Series of Poker every year? What – are they the luckiest guys in Las Vegas? It’s a skill game.”

So – my game plan for 2017 will be designed to maximize the skills I have learned over the years and be the best poker player I can be – all the time.

Remember – play your game (I know I will!)

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