New Year’s Resolutions – Poker Style!

December 28, 2008



OK, forget about ’tis-ing the season. This is the time to make your New Year’s resolutions heading into 2009. So let’s do that…but to save everyone the lying and stress of coming up with resolutions you know damn well you’re not going to stick to, we’ll keep the focus on this squarely on poker.

I typically don’t do resolutions. If I need to lose weight, I’ll plan to drop 5-10 pounds whenever I can’t fit into my pants without sucking in the excess. If I need to be nicer to people, well, odds are they’ll have to learn to live with it. But poker’s a different story…everyone has room to improve their game, and it usually can be pinpointed to a few routine things that are easily corrected.

Let’s see what I can identify in my own game …you might find a few similarities.

Things I need to do in the year ahead:

1.) Patience

– If I could master this, it’d solve a good 75% of all my poker-related problems. Especially in those no-limit games. I have a horrible tendancy to jump on the “all-in” bus on the first decent hand I get. It’s worse online, since it’s just a click of the button instead of phyically pushing in your entire stack of chips.

I tend to be impatient in all aspects of life, not just poker, so mastering (or at least improving) my ability to be patient would be helpful on so many levels. I always have to run out and buy the new movie or videogame, all the while knowing it will be dropping in price within a month. Sometimes I don’t even play the damn things until they’ve dropped 50-60% in price.

Maybe I could use all that money I’d be saving on videogames at the poker table.

2.) Studying up

– I’ll admit, knowing exactly what the experts tell you to do in certain situations is not my strong suit. It takes time to learn these things, and for whatever reason I never get around to spending the time to remember even the most important betting situations. When I do, though, I’m sure I’ll be quickly reminded how intricate a game poker can be, and how much time you have to dedicate to put yourself into an advantageous position at the table.

Sometimes I think really, truly learning poker is more involved than running an NFL defense.

3.) Knowing when to walk away

Usually it’s the house wife at the Indian casino pumping the kids’ college fund into the slot machines one quarter at a time who falls victim to something like this. You know, the one who gambles once a year or so…goes to Vegas for the shopping. Yeah, you know you know. But even those of us who are regular gamblers without diagnosed addictive tendancies can fall victim to the trap of “just one more hand. I know I can break even if I just play another 15 minutes. Oh! I just broke even…well I’m on such a hot streak, I’ll double my money if I keep it going!” Or my favorite…. “Well, I’m already down $50 million, what’s the difference I keep playing and lose another $5M.”

Those millions might be singles for you and me, but you get the idea. I must say, I’ve done better with this. I have a dollar limit set, and if I breach it, I am done. No amount of drunken badgering from those around me can coerse me back into the game, either. But I do have to fight those voices in my head every time. And there’s always good reason to include “conquering the voices in your head” as a New Year’s resolution.

Just don’t write that last one down on paper where someone else can see it.

Happy New Year!