A funny thing happened to me on the way to the big chipstack. Starting a hand with a standard raise UTG+1 with JJ, I get check-raised by a player in the cut-off who is a notorious nitty hit and runner. Now this normally rings alarm bells and should denote an easy-ish fold to minimise his profit from any non-helpful flop that invariably leads to difficult decisions to bet, call or raise. But like Will.I.am 'I gotta feeling', so I decide to just flat call.

The invisible antennae don't let me down; the flop comes JJ8. Holding the nuts I obviously check: our friend sees a paired board, thinks he's good and C-bet shoves all-in. A quick call later and two bricks point the way to my growing stack and leaving him with a bad attitude and a hard luck story.

This got me to thinking. It is interesting to note how the bad beats get remembered in vivid detail (whether we have been the recipient or the punisher), but lesser so the times when the good hands hold up. Even less the other 98% of hands grinded out.

For example: after re-reading my first post here, which noted a short time period of receiving premium pre-flop hands that didn't hold up, I have vivid recollections of these bad runs but I couldn't for the life of me remember the last time I won a big (cash) hand with AA. My stats shows solid profit from all hands where I held AA, and my notes on the biggest pots lost show AA appearing frequently too. Guess which ones are the most memorable!

Thus we get the crux of these musings; perception, perception, perception. 

Topics like table image (external perception) and tilt (internal perception) are probably the most popular examples. But the general self-perception of one's own game and capabilities are most important. Am I too grandiose in the assessment of my own abilities, am I too conservative? The negatives of one's poker experiences are easily remembered, as are the highest positive ones. These peaks and nadirs may form the catalysts for whether a player continues to play and how they play, but it is all of the in-betweens that form the bulk of the bankroll.

Good grinding goes hand-in-hand with good self-image at the tables. Regardless of indiviudal style, it is how one navigates the mid-ranges that ultimately determine levels of success. Poker is a self-study and greatest strength lies in knowing one's own reference point. Failure to do this means greater instability and fluctuation in fortunes.

To navigate the ebbs and flows, it is vital to determine the centre of balance; otherwise the ship capsizes too easily on the first big wave.