i know i said my next post would be about interpreting flop texture and seeing how ur expectations wax and wane with the turn of each card, but i think that can wait. what i find opens up the game the most during a tournament is the loss of discipline from various players. someone makes a move that a certain player can't stand, and they immediately put themself in a "bust" frame of mind. things didn't go as planned on the turn when the guy didn't fold, so they figure they'll just ship the rest in on the river wihout any regards for stack size. or, u witness a situation where u just know someone is going to go broke unnessasarily because of some weird preflop action like 3 minraises.

u can't let ur ambition sink u. if a certain planned strategy isn't working out, then it's time to change it. if someone prices u out, and it isn't painfully obvious that they are bluffing, u sometimes just have to give up to save ur stack early in a tournament, and then go after them later when u have more of a hand. we may often go bust in a tourney by a bad beat or a cooler situation, but do we ever think how often we go bust because of our own emotions dictating our play? maybe we feel so hopeless because an ace just keeps flopping when we hold KK or QQ and it's five handed, or we've made a flush a half dozen times on the river only to have folded earlier in the hand every single time. we get these notions that destiny is out to make us lose, so we go on a "rampage" and just make wild calls and indescribably bad raises just for the thrill of seeing what happens. then, when we lose, we blame it on bad cards from earlier in the tourney without taking into account the vast number of hands we played poorly to get to where we are.

in my system of no limit holdem, it's usually two or three hands that put me way down in the leader board. it's not a big bluff that i perceived to have a very high chance of succeeding that simply didn't--it's just a disregard for playing with good strategy. it takes a lot of practice to constantly come back to poker with a clear mind that's ready to face the sudden ups and downs. maybe we think that it just has to be our time to hit a flush, and we put in 20 bbs to see the river. it's the anticipation of moving into the top 5 that cause us to forget what we know about poker. i've heard it enough times at the freeroll tables--people who think that because they won't lose anything, that it's optimal to just spew chips and "have fun" and hope that luck will carry them far. and when we see these players move up the leaderboard for a couple hours, we begin to lose hope in probability :-P  but mathamatics takes care of itself. it's the human element of the game that makes it so amusing, and bewildering, and the reason why machines will never master the game as well as the best humans can.

i find that i play my best when i am genuinely happy with the world. im laughing whether i win a hand or lose one. i make fun of my opponents (playfully, of course) and never agonize too much over any one decision. in essence, you must be having fun to really go far in poker. it's easy to stay attracted to something that u have fun doing, even if discipline can sometimes pose a problem for us. but maintaining good discipline is all that is needed for a lot of us to progress to the next level in poker. this unrelenting potential in us all to rise up in our poker playing abilities should be enough encouragement to make even the most distraught players hopeful again that they may, after all, have what it takes to win big. if u feel ur game is in a serious rut, try focusing more and more on discipline in the future, and see if it doesn't make u a little better.

there are four different ways u can feel when a tournament is over, and two of the four both come from playing with good discipline. if u play with a lack of discipline, u can go deep in the money due to luck--but a successful player knows this, and the win doesn't give u as great a feel. if u play with a lack of discipline and go out early (the normal result), the feeling is the worst, and u become a mopey dopey loser :  if u play with discipline, the result doesn't matter. good or bad, u gave it ur all, and the rest came down to the inherent luck of the game. that's what sets the winners from the wanna-bes--the knowledge that there are skills to be learned, and the understanding that even the best game can be twarted by the deck sometimes. these days, i find a lot of people who think either the best always win, or that it's just a free for all, that the winners and losers can be anybody, dictated solely by the cards. u've got to rise above the noise, no matter how frustating it can be, to truly begin to play cards.