Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Growing Pains

Ah, The Seavers. I had a tough time deciding my TV crush growing up between Carol Seaver, Topanga from Boy Meets World or Mallory from Family Ties.

Rachel's nude leg crossing pic from Friends immediately dispatched all three of them.

Everyone goes through growing pains as poker players, writers (I am NOT considering myself one see Otis, BG, and Pauly if you're looking for the next best-seller), and as a person.

I look at myself three years ago. A person who wallowed in self-pity due to an unfortunately accident at work two years prior, that left me with some additional disabilities. I don't need to list them all, but on a daily basis after wiping away the mist on the mirror, I would hate the person looking back at me. Broken. I felt one part Phantom of the Opera, and one part Helen Keller. Sure, I still tried to go out with friends and put on a fake smile that usually didn't last and I'd end up begging to go home. At work I'd count the minutes in my cube until I could return home to the safety of an online video game. I didn't want people to look or talk to me for the simple fact that I couldn't speak with clarity and confidence.

Life wasn't much fun back then. Routine is what kept me afloat. Work, play/feed Little Drizz, Dark Age of Camelot, and a little sleep. Anything that jarred my routine got me confused and was most likely met with a scowl. My marriage was a routine, it wasn't a friendship, it wasn't love, it was convenience and financial necessity. We both needed each other for other reasons besides intimacy. I look back on this and wonder why we're still together. And I realized why.

We both try to improve the other.

Not in a competition sense, but growing as a person. I used to have a one-track mind as to what HAD to happen on a particular day. If it didn't I was crushed. My wife's constant encouragement to break my death-grip on a routine, is what's helped me enjoy getting out of bed at 4:30am every day. I enjoy listening to Little Drizz scream for 15 minutes in the morning if he has a cold and we woke him up too early. I enjoy coming to work again and chatting with co-workers about poker (yeah, they're catching the bug as well, but don't invite me to their home game for some reason... I SUCK AT NLHE! :P ). I enjoy helping my wife coach her Jr. High School girls volleyball team on my day off, instead of sleeping all day.

And I helped her realize that things don't NEED to be done this very second. To enjoy Little Drizz trying to drink out of a regular cup and spilling it all over his head. Enjoy jumping in the leaves after raking for two hours. To stop belittling her co-workers when they didn't do the things she asked (she's a manager). To have a little fun again.

The only reason I got to be where I'm standing today? I got out of my comfort zone. I threw my woobie into the wind.

Playing like a rock is comforting and profitable at lower stakes. You can make a decent profit, its proven by the nickel and dime NLHE pros you see in the chat bar. Its proven by those who 12 table limit games sticking to strick ABC poker and grind out a .5BB/hr win rate.

But, is it poker? Are you really learning anything by only playing AA-QQ UTG or only attempting a blind steal from the button?

Hank has a GREAT new post about the stages of a poker mastery, go check it out. Go on.

I would have to place myself between around stage three. I've been tearing down my old rock game lately, and striving more to push the edges when I feel I'm the favorite. I'm still trying to plug the known leaks in my game like calling out of position with a one-sided dry draw, and being more selective with starting hand requirements in certain positions. I've become more aggressive in my bluffs and semi-bluffs with blind steals. I'd be lying if I wrote that I feel comfortable playing this way, but its definitely brings a new aspect to the game. If I'm shaking while playing its a good thing. See Otis' most recent post on UpForPoker about getting excited to play, hopefully the thrill of making the final table will come back to him before he falls again.

Learning can be fun and even profitable once in a while. Try it out in your next game. Raise with 97o when its folded to you from MP after folding for the last 3 orbits, see if your opponents recognize/respect your rockish facade. In low stakes games they may not, but if you hit that flop hard, I'm sure you'll get action on your AA, KK, and sets for the rest of the night, they DO remember those straights and full houses.

Thanks for dropping by, now go check out the many write ups about the recent Boathouse Bash put on by Sir/Rev/Rabbi/Dr. AlCantHang.

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