Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Game Selection, Part 2 – Motivation

“When we play, we must realize, before anything else, that we are out to make money.” – David Sklansky

Why do you play? It is a good question to ask one’s self. I play to win money from my opponents. To me, poker is about money. Losing money isn’t fun. While I accept it as an unavoidable fact of the game that sometimes, I will lose, I don’t like it. I proactively want to minimize the instances and amounts I lose. Remember, losing less is the same as winning more.

As a contrast, I used to play Magic but since there was no money involved in the outcome of the games, my approach and attitude toward the game was entirely different. Winning wasn’t even that important compared to just having a good time. If I consistently lost money at poker, I would probably quit playing (I can’t imagine the opposite – i.e. consistently winning and not having fun). I suppose there is something to be said for challenging one’s self so if winning money is not one’s top priority and one wants to knowingly play with superior opponents for the “experience”, it’s your money but please understand it is a –EV situation. However, if one wants to make money then one should be mindful of the game one is taking a seat in.

Even though poker is “just” my hobby, I take winning very seriously.
Barry Greenstein says this about being motivated to win,

“You need to convince yourself that you must win. It is easy to get lazy when you have no immediate money pressure.”

Since I do not play for my living, the only pressure on me to achieve results is self imposed. I have to “want it”. I have to be single mindedly focused on taking my opponents chips. I used to play for lots of reasons, such as:

a) It was “that” time, my family was in bed and my window of opportunity was open
b) I had some unexpected free time
c) I was working on clearing a bonus
d) for sheer entertainment/fun

Now, before playing, I ask myself, “are you capable of mustering your ass-kicking-est “A” game?” If I do not answer myself in the affirmative, then it is not a good time to play. Instead, I read or re-read some poker literature, review hand histories/stats in pokertracker, catch up on reading poker blogs, etc.
The point being, I am consciously choosing to play only when I am at my predatory, separate you from your chips, 2nd and 3rd level thinking, best.
This inherently gives me an edge over all the players that are playing for some other reason. It simultaneously serves to prevent me from playing my “C” game at all for the most part. Consider this whenever playing, many of your opponents’ number one priority is winning your chips. If your goal is anything else, you have already ceded them an advantage. Should one really expect to win consistently if one isn’t playing with a similar singularity of purpose?

I spend a fair amount of time thinking, reading, writing, and playing poker to improve my skills and I want to be paid for my work. I don’t think that is an unreasonable position to hold. To me, all money is equally green and desirable.
I try to keep my ego out of the equation. One dollar equals one dollar whether won from a pro, a blogger, or a complete novice.

So, ask yourself, do you really want to win?

1 comment:

Memphis MOJO said...

I was playing once and someone said to me, "Fold, fold, fold. Is it fun folding all the time?"

My answer was, "It's fun winning money."