Hello everybody, Ive had a most sobering revelation today. I am really not very good at this wonderful game ours.

Seems obvious does it not? Would I be here otherwise?

Well it isnt. In the ethereal dreamworld of the ordinary poker player, the unbelievable level of self delusion present in the minds of so many is the one constant in the multivariate equation of supposedly "unexplainable" long term losses. One tells himself constantly that his play was +EV - "its just these friggin donk/luckbox/fish folks who keep playing bad but always beat me..."

"Tack!" yells the metaphorical captain (why am I not in control?) of my bruised poker brain - "lets change the subject of why I suck so very badly and talk about something else."

Gladly I will oblige my inner Walter Mitty.

Ok heres where I am with poker so far.... It all began far away - in a land of castles and kings....

or more literally playing a home game i was inadequately rolled for at the age of 14 at one of the top independent schools in the UK (incidently we were pretty close to Westminster Abbey and the houses of Parliament so my previous sarcasm about castles and kings now seems woefully close to the sad truth).
Being rather arrogant about my own level of intelligence I thought that poker was a game I should crush based on my very strong mathematical ability (i'm reading a Physics degree at the moment - the mathematics involved in Quantum Mechanics, Theoretical Hamiltonian dynamics, Electromagnetic theory etc is appaullingly complicated - think partial differential equations and whatever). So I read a few books etc - my ego boosted up even more because the legendary words of the great Doyle Brunson where richocheting around my skull at an exponentially increasing pace.

I reckon I broke even in that home game over the long run. Now however silly this sounds I think it was an achievement. Public school boys are the scum of the earth (myself most certainly included!) and all manner of cheating, stealing and unscrupulous behaviours were occuring with an alarming frequency.
I, having read books on poker and whatever considered the ONLY valid approach to playing poker to be the book prescribed TAG style of play. To be fair - it was certainly the most profitable in that game, the variance was insane. Im talking it would be standard to see 2 people all in preflop with 99 versus TT. And this was a cash game. There were players who lost ALOT of money. For playing £20 cash-games at school with your buddies, with money you didnt have (playing on credit), it could be rather scary to play 2 hour long sessions in your lunchbreak and see £80 - £100 swings!! In particular there was one guy, very rich Indian guy with the ego of a prize rhinocerous with a horn the size of Lex Steel's who was counted in after 2 years as being over £2000 in the red. Since we all watched HSP, WSOP, WPT etc and saw some of the crazy stuff going on there we assumed that was the normal way poker should be played. The failure to take into account the situational nature of tournament play and the dynamic effect of stack sizes resulted in a home game that should have been the ultimate cash cow. But somehow I was only breaking even despite my "correct" plays...

At this game there were two boys who always seemed to be in the black at the end of the week no matter what kind of hurricane of variance had swept through us. By the way we played 6-7 handed NLH mostly with a bit of PLO (when I could convince them) and one or two times we played HORSE after the Scotty Nuygen thing (the whole abuse thing appealled to one of the less scrupulous characters I think...). These two who kept winning played two different styles. Both were phenomenally intelligent guys - Alex is currently reading a Joint Honours degree in Russian language and History at Oxford and Jonny is on a scholarship to Harvard for economics. Alex had read books and was generally speaking a tightish-aggressive player but with a good hand reading ability and the propensity to make some staggering bluffs in good spots, Jonny was a total lunatic preflop, raising and 3betting alot of pots and calling others with the most random cards imaginable. The thing was though - post flop - he was a genius. He ran effective and subtle bluffs (but never it seemed for all his chips....) and when he showed hands down he always seemed to be stronger then you'd put him on for his percieved 'range.

Of course - having said all this, we were still schoolkids albeit bright ones, and the level of sophistication of that game was not high (positional understanding was somewhat intuitive rather than calculated).
I broke even because I tried to play for showdown value against the *****rs and loons that generally consitituted about 1/2 to 2/3 of people involved. I was outplayed by the 2 superior players repeatedly and hence consider myself lucky to have broken even in that game in the long run.

So then things like A-levels and University applications took over and our degenerate underage poker circle reduced to only playing on the occaisional weekend and when I got to Uni - I obtained the ultimate anti-poker repellent and doused myself thoroughly in it - a girlfriend. A year of my life passed in which I'd make only the most sporadic appearances at the University Poker Society's weekly tournaments (although I did manage to cash one once.)

And then Pokerstars....
Within days I was a degen, multitabling cash games - playing super lag poker just for kicks (albeit positionally driven madness), playing MTTs i wasnt rolled for. Went broke for my first $50. Bought in again against my better judgement.

So im here now after maybe 2 months of online poker. My Sharkscope is pretty damn good - check me out! (ROI 386%, profit ~ $1000).
however the truth is that almost all of that was due to one turbo donkament luckbox rather than a prolonged period of good play.
after playing a lot of MTTs and actually having min-cashed a fair few (todays wonderous 5 hour occupation.) I have isolated the main leak in my play tournament play and cash game play:
Blowups. Crazy all in, unneccessary, random madman bluffs. Consider my bust hands in the last two tournaments I ran deep in.

Tournament 1: $1.10 freezout, something like 2000 entrants - 1st prize ~ $650

Hero has J9o in SB, folded round, raises to 2.5x
Villain (BB) calls

(bear in mind that Hero is coming about 5th out of 17 with a reasonable stack of 60BB villian is 1st in chips with a whopping 150BB + stack, why did i even bother to tangle with him anyway?)

flop K T 5

Hero bets, Villain calls

turn is nothing card

Hero bets, Villain calls

river is a 9 -
i having played for 5 hours at this point went in my head " ive represented QJ here - what a good spot to all in bluff the river!!"

Hero shoves. Villain instacalls - flips K10

I smoke 3 cigarettes on the trot and get drunk and go shag some ugly girl.

The thing is that i had played solid tourney poker for so long and just gotten brainfreeze at the crucial moments for no reason.

Even worse is todays example - I all in overbet shoved on an AJ3 board with 44 faced with 1 checks and a player behind. Again i had a reasonable stack - the overbet was almost double the pot - my reasoning was that the BB had just come along for kicks and even if he had an A  he'd probably lay it down since i was a mid positon preflop raiser and there was no way he had a kicker better than a 10 or he would have 3 - bet. BB outstacked me slightly and the button caller was huge-stacked. anyway i thought the button caller could have anything and had probably called with suited connectors or something to try and bust me or to use a positional advantage to push me around after the flop (he was fond of that), so i didnt think he was much of a danger.

button folds. BB instacalls
shows AQ.

i feel rather deflated and eat comfort food.

both busts involved similar aggro-mad play a long way into mtts.
this has got to stop.

I have satellited into the Sunday Million tomorrow and am sacrificing monday's 2 lectures on Maths and Astronomy in the hope of a deep run. Wish me luck boys and I'll keep you posted.