'Estimate the percent of time you play your A-game!' 

I was totally caught off guard by this very last task in Jared Tendler's tilt profile questionnaire.

A zillion times had I read about the beauty of the A-game, the virtues of focus, awareness, and high-level thinking - all the while assuming that the more I read about it, the more I would practice it myself.

Not once did it occur to me to take stock of how often I actually did play my A-game. In my proper, not my phantasy poker life.

And by taking stock I don't mean an escapist yeah-I-know-there's-room-for improvement type of answer.

I mean assigning one precise, cold, nasty, inescapable NUMBER to it.

I pause here - and let you have your own awkward moment of silent and painful self-recognition, if you haven't thought about YOUR number before.

Ahem, I do hope I'm not the only one.

Ah, what the heck, it's out now anyway, so I might just as well strip completely naked:

Being brutally honest with myself, I would have to admit it might have been as little as 5 percent before I started this blog. Since then, maybe 10 percent. Tops.

Which leaves me with the very uncomfortable question of what the hell I was doing during the substantial remainder of my poker time?

The answer is obvious and horrifying: I spent a staggering 95 (!) percent of my playing time being content with my B-game, or worse, my C-game.

Now, I don't know about you, but I find this quite shattering. In a way I have always worked quite hard on improving my technical game. I read articles and books, watched videos, took part in live training sessons, and so on.

But it's only when I read Jared Tendler's question that I realised: all that time I was working on my A-game in THEORY only, not in practice. I have never actually worked on IMPLEMENTING what I had learnt.

I'm not referring to the basics, here, of counting the outs and calculating the odds, or using position, or thoughtful bet sizing. Thankfully, I did manage this much.

I'm talking about truly concentrating on every single move, paying attention to players' bet-call-fold patterns, trying to range hands, skillfully adapting to table dynamics, etc. - the whole nine yards.

And this, you will have guessed by now as I keep going on about Tendler's book, is as much about the MENTAL game of poker as it is about the technical game. There you go again, Jared.


I now kind of feel like I'm back to square one, or my post #1, having ventured out to face my tilt demos, only to go around in a circle, ending up facing the same MENTAL GAME sign I had left behind when starting off.

Though, maybe not quite. What if what looks like a circle actually were a spiral staircase, leading ever so slightly upwards?

Ah, sounds much better already. Actually, now that I think about it, I have made some progress.

Since starting this blog I have brought my bankroll management in order, eliminated my numb robot multi-tabeling routine and banned my money burning cash game sessions from my playing schedule.

As a result I've not only got rid of my worst C-game tilt excesses (hopefully for good). But I have also, by default rather than by design, managed to slightly increase my A-game number from 5 to 10 percent.

Kind of makes sense since you can't play your A-game while playing your C-game, but once you start dismantling C, A and B are happy to pick up the pieces and split C's share between them.

Admittedly, it's a rather round-about way of getting to A. But hey, why would I complain, still getting there!

So, on second thought, maybe that number thing wasn't so bad after all.

In fact, remembering my post #3, it might have been precisely during this first circle training that I have morphed from the flat-lining inchworm I used to be into a proud omega-shaped one.

Only, instead of inching forward on a nice flat surface, as I imagined, I seem to be inching upwards on a v-e-r-y slowly ascending spiral staircase.

OK, I'll stop here or you'll think I'm going nuts. 

Gotta go and work on moving my 'front foot' for/upward again...

See you at the tables or here.



PS: As you can tell, during my recent family gathering I had way too much time to think, and too little to play. Next post will be about hard facts again.