Last night was pretty much a wash on the poker front, despite getting up fairly big early on when I flopped nut flushes in back to back hands and no one seemed to believe me. Proceeded to bleed most of it back, though, before finally shutting down the pokering machine to hang out with ScurvyWife and watch Lost and other silly tv.
It's been interesting of late, as far as stepping back a bit from poker more than a few times over the last few months, and then easing back into playing. I can't say that it has produced any grand epiphanies, or even lesser epiphanies, but I do seem to be approaching it with a slightly different flavor of detachment, which seems to be helping.
Detachment and poker is an odd thing. You can't shake a stick at poker literature without smacking the advice of "View the chips as chips, not money, and play with no fear." Which is very good advice, indeed, and I have absolutely no quibbles with that.
You'll also encounter the advice of not being results-oriented around every corner, too, as far as detaching yourself from the outcome of any single hand, focusing instead on the bigger picture and of making the correct decision, each and every time you have to make a decision, and letting the results sort themselves out over time. Repeat to yourself, over and over, that you'll be a winner in the long run if you consistently make +EV decisions. Again, great advice, no quibbles with that.
Both of the above are pretty obvious conclusions and easy enough to absorb because they don't really conflict with other things we'd like to believe about the great game of poker. They jive perfectly with other goals such as improving our game, learning, readying, studying, and striving to make +EV decisions and avoid -EV decisions.
Lately, though, I seem to be trending towards an even broader sense of detachment. And I can't necessarily recommend it, as it's sort of fatalistic, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's a natural (perhaps necessary) evolution of the idea of detachment.
And, really, it's a pretty simple state of detachment, capable of being summed up in a single, solitary word: whatever.
Crack my set of aces with J8o when you hang in there to catch a runner runner straight? Whatever.
Cap with 25o because you think it's funny, only to crack my kings when you river two pair? Whatever.
Call off all your tournament chips with third pair, when facing two all-ins in front of you, only to spike a third 5 on the river? Whatever.
And yes, indeed, that's a close cousin to not being results oriented. But it's a bit different, as it doesn't involve repeating the mantra that "skillful play will win over time, skillful play will win over time, skillful play will win over time." It's a bit more nihilistic.
Whatever. Poker involves skill, but it also involves a large mesaure of complete and utter randomness. I'll focus hard on each and every hand, and make the best decision I can possibly make, and strive to only play when I can do so optimally, but to a certain extent I'm deluding myself by pretending that study and experience will dilute the random nature of the cards. It will, to a certain extent, but we eventually hit a wall where the best response might very well be "Whatthefuckever", moving on to the next hand without even a millisecond of cogitating on something that's ultimately uncogitatable, due to the nature of the game.
And that's true when you win a hand, as well as when you lose. Rake a huge pot when the lemur with an overpair insists on ignoring the possible flush that you obviously have? Whatever. Bend over the donkey, yet again, that constantly overvalues top pair? Whatever. Constantly steal from the BB who folds way too many hands? Whatever.
In some ways, it's a depressing state to reach. It takes some of the joy from playing poker, if you view it as an exercise in mashing buttons, that you can steer in the direction of personal profit, more often than not, but also one that's largely dictated by randomly generated pixels in the end. It's much more exciting and envigorating to imagine that all of our skillful plays, our stop n' gos, our expertly timed bluff check-raises are what will truly separate us from the masses, that all of our thought and study is what defines us as winning players.
I'm just not sure that is a reality, though. More and more it seems that I make the most money when I find the best tables and absolutely bash on weak players when the opportunity arises. That requires the least amount of skill and thought yet produces the best results. Target, isolate, and bash, over and over and over. And then do it some more.
Or, you know, whatever.