It just takes a moment - to ruin all my best play in a tournament.  That is the lesson that I'm really starting to come away with in this month from hell.

The theories are all great.  Taking the notes is helpful on many levels of play.  I've poured over PSO lessons - both live and video - and read and re-read every book I can get my hand on.

But the truth right now is this - I'm my own worst enemy.

I'm playing 45-seat, .25 buy-in SNG's right now as part of a challenge to improve and build my game, and last night it really hit me that patience is a much bigger problem than I thought - and one that I need to really concentrate on.

This is a switch for me.  When I first started playing, my biggest problem was being too methodical.  I needed a set of rules to get me through.  I wrote out some charts that would make your head spin, and couldn't play without them - my "security charts".  Want to know how I would play AJs in 4th position when my stack was between 15-25BB and someone limped in front of me?  I had a chart slot for that.

Honestly, this was helpful in the beginning, when table structures threw me off and I was worried (overly worried, to be honest) about making a "donk move".  I felt like if I did it the way that the pro's said to do it in the books - to the letter - I wouldn't be too bad.

Of course, this lead to a couple of issues.  One, that I wasn't getting the concepts - only the "right play".  And of course, anyone that played me for any length of time and was paying any attention would almost know exactly what I was playing as if my cards were face up.  At microstakes, the second part wasn't a huge problem, but if I wanted to improve, I needed to move on.

So now I find myself actually really growing as a player, because I'm grasping the concepts much better and seeing how they play out.  And because I'm not staring at my charts, I'm watching the people I'm playing much closer, and playing better.

Sorry, long intro to get to my point.  So last night, I'm moving along really well.  The donks cause the loss of a full table in the first ten minutes, and after about an hour +, I'm in the final 14.  I'm at a table of 7, and I'm on a bit of a dry run - lots of folds - which I'm actually learning to be both content with and to use to my advantage when I can.

So I'm in middle position with 200/100 blinds and about 2700 chips and finally get a little something - AQo.  So I go in with 600 chips.  Everyone folds to the button, the big stack that has been active, but in ways that make sense - knocking out a few of the tiny stacks left with some good calls considering his stack size - and he re-raises all-in.  And he doesn't hesitate.

If I had taken just 5 seconds to breathe and look at the situation clearly, I would have saw a very strong player putting my whole stack at risk, looked at my AQo, and my stack that still would have been 10BB late in the tourney, and thrown my cards away.

But I didn't do that.  I decided instead to let my emotions take over for that hand.  "Oh, no.  I've been sitting on the sidelines getting crap, and I finally get something and Mr. Big Stack wants to push me around?  I don't think so."  So not thinking about my ultimate goal - getting ITM.  No thought to the fact that I knew that Mr. Big Stack was actually a pretty good player.  Emotion over poker.

I called his all-in, he turned over his KK, and I finished the tourney in 14th, which of course for all intents and purposes is the same result as the donk that finished 45th by going all-in on his first hand of 96o.

So this is my epiphany.  Concentration and taking time is as essential as all the theories and books I've soaked into my brain.  And one moment of emotion can throw everything out the window.