Recently I have rediscovered my inner tilt. After years of trying not to let this crazy, volatile game get to me, I seem to be asking myself “Why Do I Play this Game?” too often for comfort.

The major source of my decline in poker morale is the result of a once a month, 10 session tournament vying for a seat at the WSOP Main Event (plus a couple grand for expenses).  The winner gets 55% if they make it to the money, and the other 9 players get a 5% share.  After session 8 of 10, I was in a tight battle for first with one other player and no one else in sight.

In session 9, my dream scenario unfolded not once, but twice.  With a full 10 players left, I had cut my rival’s chip stack in half.  He went all-in with QQ against another player who showed AA.  Sure enough, Q came on the flop, and he was back to starting stack.  An hour later we’re still 9 handed when he got deep into a hand, calling every street against the most solid player at the table with a 9 high board. She pushed all-in after the turn against his now very small stack and he felt forced to call even though he knew he was well behind. My rival showed JJ to her KK.  One card remaining, two outs. I was already picking out my outfit for Day 1 in Vegas.

Of course, given the theme of this post, you already know the river card.

It was all downhill from there, he ended up outlasting me in Session 9, and I needed a miracle in Session 10 to get to Vegas. Let’s just say my play in the final session was not the stuff of miracles.

My results elsewhere have also been modest in the last 2-3 months. Perhaps this is merely due to the swings of tournament poker. Although I can recognize some tentativeness in my play and a persistent failure to trust my own reads. I keep asking myself:

“Why do I play this game?”

Well the answers, of course, are: I love playing, I would desperately miss poker if I did not play, and I would probably find myself bingeing on crappy series on Netflix instead.  If history is any indication, my vow to abstain from the tables would not last past Father’s Day anyway.

Clearly I need to shake things up a bit to try to bring my mojo out of cardiac arrest.  Here’s the plan:

  • Try out some new card rooms and tournament structures. My favorite tournament, has experienced a recent decline in quality of play with players raising 20x in the first blind level, under the gun, without looking at their hand. Intolerable. I’ve started looking at tournaments in different venues with more favorable structures that may produce saner play.  Maybe a different venue will give me some perspective.  I tried one a couple of weeks ago and chopped top 5 in a small tournament.  The play was much more to my liking.  I went back to the same venue for a shorter blind, multi-rebuy format and the crazy play was epic. Mixed results so far.


  • Plan weekends off to clear my head and pursue other interests.  I keep saying this will happen: I’ll enjoy the good weather….oh wait this is spring in New England there is no such thing! I did revive my bar trivia team Sunday night and we swept to victory after several months off.  I may mix in some more of this in coming months.
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  • Exercise.  Ha! Next.


  • Improve my game.   I know I need to get back to evaluating my game and try to fix what is not working. That means re-reading some of the authors that have been a positive influence in the past, taking notes on keys hands, and discussing them with my poker buddies. I also need to spend my time on, do my weekly training plans, and take on some Beat the Pro challenges to sharpen my game. When you’re struggling, it’s time to get back to work on your fundamentals.


  • One hand at a time. I need to refocus when I am playing, forget what has happened recently, and assess situations at hand to achieve optimal play.  Everyone knows this, but my recent drift has also seen an uptick in distraction at the table with too much rear view mirror thinking.


So those are my initial thoughts on righting the ship.  I’m open to your ideas as well. No suggestion will go unconsidered.  I’m a desperate man!


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