Monday, February 07, 2005

Let's just say if you ranked all the things I'd like to be doing right now, the day job isn't very high on that list.

Caro did have another interesting tidbit in SuperSystem 2 that I forgot earlier, which just resurfaced while I was catching up on poker blog reading. Again, it's not rocket science, but he touches on an interesting concept as far as everyone having a Misery Threshold, both at the tables and away from the tables. Simply stated, we all have our own personal point where things are, literally, as bad as they can get. Once you hit your own personal Misery Threshold you stop caring and become numb, as you can't process things in the normal way. Further individual events that would normally cause great pain become painless. You cap off a horrible session of 3/6 in which you lose half your bankroll by blowing another $600 playing slots. You don't bother paying your truck payment when you girlfriend leaves you and shacks up with the assistant manager at Dairy Queen. And so on and so forth.

The interesting part of it is that it made me think about the phenomenon of tilt, and how it's often not quite accurately described or defined. Looking back on a disastrous poker or blackjack session (usually one where I stop playing intelligently and chase losses in donkey fashion), I'll often tell msyelf I tilted. By that I mean I let raw emotion, usually anger, get the better of me, causing me to ignore warning signs and raise with hands that are beaten.

That's really not usually the case, though, for my truly disastrous bankroll-emptying sessions. Those are usually accompanied by an eerie lack of emotion, not by anger, culminating in almost numb disbelief when it's all done, when the account shows zeros. Which sort of makes sense, in relation to what Caro says. Not to say you can't get angry and go on tilt, as you obviously can, but only that there are much more sneaky, dangerous forms of tilt. At least when you're angry you're sometimes unintentionally playing correctly, as far as upping your aggression factor. You'll still lose in the long run but your losses will be mitigated by unintentional good play at times. Plus you usually encounter plenty of warning signs, including, but not limited to, the screaming of obscenities, threats of involuntary flight to laptops, and the well-nigh irresistable urge to put a boot up a pixellated opponents ass.

When you keep playing after hitting your Misery Threshold, though, you've entered truly dangerous waters, as it simply stops mattering. There aren't any triggers to pull you out of it or snap you back to somewhat normal senses. That part of your brain that cares greatly about the results turns off and you suddenly find yourself pushing larger and larger stacks of chips towards someone, anyone else. You become pot-commited in the worst sense, unable to stop until you literally have nothing left to wager.

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