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Poker...? Whatever...

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Is it just me or is there a sort of apathy towards poker spreading its way across the poker community. Everywhere I turn, people are saying that they just haven't felt like playing all that much lately. I know the feeling: since last Thursday when I made my big score, I just haven't been up to the task.

What causes a player (pro, donkey, blonkey, or otherwise) to lose interest in a game that fully captivated him or her a few short weeks ago?

What causes this apathy towards poker? Perhaps it's caused by a really bad session?

I'm sure many understand why it's harder to sit down and play a session after dropping a large chunk of change. Your bankroll's injured and you want to stop the bleeding. Even though the best way to do this is to hammer out a winning session, it's hard to do it when your confidence is shattered.

We've all been there. When you're running well, the flops all seem to hit you full-on. And even when they don't, the other players are folding to your continuation bets or to your river bluffs.

But after a night of missed flops, pre-flop raises coming in spades, and a disproportionate number of check-raises and re-raises from your opponents, it's hard to keep playing. I mean, poker's just a game of chance, right? If the cards aren't falling, what chance do you have to win? And even when you do get the cards, is TPTK really good enough to call an all-in from the table maniac?

Losing is bad but it's far from the worst that can happen to a poker player. Losing breeds fear and causes a noticeable drop in a player's confidence and charisma at the tables. It does not, however, breed apathy.

Apathy is a poker player's worst enemy. You can win a tournament or pull in the big bucks at a NL cash game if your head's not in the game. But I guarantee that you're faced with a losing proposition if you sit at a table when your heart's not in the game.

Over and over and over again, I've played poker when I didn't really want to play all that much. And the results were the same each time: I lost. It's hard to win when you're not interested in what's happening. And it's bad bankroll management when you don't care about getting stacked or losing your buy-in.

I felt this same way last Friday night when I sat down to play. I wanted to either double-up or bust out of my NL cash game in as little time as possible. This emotional detachment from the game cost me $25 when I decided to gamble with my TPTK.

So, I ask again: what causes this apathy towards poker? Is it losing a large chunk of change? No - I believe indifference to poker comes from winning.

After having a big winning session, it's human nature to expect history to repeat itself. You ended up winning at a rate of 50 BB/100 last night? Of course you can expect the same tonight. Why not? You were playing well. The cards were good but not great. Some of your opponents were good and some were bad. You were in control and it was great!

Well, history does not repeat itself very often, at least in poker. If you tend to win 2 BB/100 hands, then that is all you should expect over a significant number of hands. If you have a big night, accept the money that comes with that win but know that that moment is fleeting (unless you've suddenly had the "A-ha!" moment of your poker career).

It's easy to become disinterested in a game that plays best as a marathon. Poker is a grind. And it is the realization of this fact that I feel causes apathy towards poker. This happened to me back in December when I realized that I was earning roughly 50 cents per hour that I played of online poker. 50 cents! Jebus - I'd be better off working a lemonade stand. And although the NL cash games have helped me increase my ROI and my win rate, I'm still not getting rich playing.

So how does one re-kindle that spark of interest in the game? How do you go from not wanting to think about poker back to thinking of nothing else? How can you content yourself in the mediocrity of grinding out small wins over countless hours?

Here's a list of things that might help. They've helped me and I hope that you'll be able to take these points to heart and find a way to get that fire burning again.

  1. Play poker because it's fun and not because of its earnings potential. If the cash games become too much of a grind, play some MTTs and SNGs. You may lose money doing so but it's nice to change it up.

  2. Set small goals for yourself that you can accomplish with very little effort. As your interest in the game grows, set loftier goals for yourself and for your game.

  3. Speak with friends and family about the game and try to get others to give it a shot. Seeing others enjoy the game is all it can take to realize why you love the game as much as you do.

  4. Accept that you're in this for the long haul. It's unlikely that you'll get rich overnight playing poker. But if you put in the time playing poker and reading everything you can about the game, your bankroll's growth may surprise you.

  5. Take some time away from the tables when you don't really feel like playing. There are a variety of levels of apathy and it's best to nip those feeling in the bud with a weekend of drinking, PS2 and/or Yahtzee!

  6. Try a different game! If you only play hold'em, why not give Omaha Hi/Lo a try? Or Stud 8 or better? Just try and stay away from blackjack and other casino games. Remember that you're trying to re-kindle your interest in poker and not with gambling. If you feel like gambling, just send me $30 of you money and I'll say nice things about you in my blog. I guarantee that my offer gives you a far better ROI than casino blackjack offers you.

  7. Sometimes you need to remind yourself that you are playing poker for real money. And what do you do with real money? Buy stuff! Why not take a little out of your bankroll and spend it frivolously? I bought a PS2 and I think it's great! Everytime I sit down to play a game, I remember that poker bought me the system. And don't worry about the bankroll withdrawal curse: superstition and luck have no place in poker. Poker is all about logic, math and people - never forget that.

  8. Lastly, if all else fails, go for a change of venue. Try a new site! There are many, many rooms out there and each has its own pros and cons. For me, there's nothing better than signing up with a new site, making that first deposit, then sitting at a table. New players, new interface, and new money to be won.

I started my road back from apathy last night when I won a $5 SNG at PokerStars. And I did it the old fashioned way: built up a big stack and bulllied the sh*t out of everyone else at the table. Sure, I sucked out on some of the guys. But when I've got five or six times a guy's stack, I'm willing to play the role of gamb00ler.

Seriously, poker's the greatest game out there. So come sign up at Interpoker and look for Klopzi at the $25 NL tables. Win or lose, nothing beats that feeling of picking up rockets and having the other big stack at the table re-raise you all-in pre-flop.

If this post can help one apathetic poker player return to the tables with renewed spirit then my job is done. I want as many people playing poker as possible. I need the challenge and I need the money! My money's right here waiting for you too! All you need to do is come get it.

So whaddya say? You up for some poker?


huma said...

I just signed up for blogexplosion.com which promised to send me a bunch of targetted readers - but then they sent me the following email:

Your blog was declined for the following reason:
Sorry we do not allow poker blogs

Fascists! At last count there is roughly 307 billion poker blogs. I can't fathom a reason why they don't allow this.

Anyway, to respond to your post:

I've not yet felt apathetic towards poker except in individual sessions. This happens more often in SNG's when I'm playing like a robot. I find at the 6max NL tables I'm a LOT more focused on the action, and it definitely pays off. If I start robo-clicking on 6max I just end up losing blinds and small pots I probably could have taken.

Bad sessions tend to make me more aggressive and more focused on poker, if anything. This works to my disadvantage as I try to make up for lost dollars by playing more pots, reraising with vulnerable hands, playing out of position, etc. And yes, going broke with TPTK when a maniac pushes it allin.

I've started to enjoy losing - it's kind of sick, but I try to look at the positive side. If I make a stupid mistake, it's hard to enjoy it, but if I make the correct play and get sucked out on, instead of berating the lamer who stuck me, I praise them and have a good laugh at how lucky they got.

The other night at an Interpoker 25NL 6max table, there were 3 of us involved in a small pot and it was checked down to the river. The board read AAAQQ, and a really really stupid player named DIRTYGEO said "Might as well go allin.." - he pushed his last $10 in the pot and the other player called, and so did I - we both assumed it was a split and he was an idiot. Turns out he had the other Ace.

Rather than go ballistic at this point I had a good laugh with DirtyGeo, and started chatting to him. I tried to keep him around as long as possible - and it succeeded. I managed to get my money back off him. He had absolutely no problem giving small pots away to his new best friend Humanaut!

At the end of the session DirtyGeo said 'I'm off huma, hope to see you around the tables again soon'

Don't worry, DirtyGeo, you will! I'll be at any table you're at from now till the end of time.

I'll put in my vote for Interpoker as well. It's a small enough site that after just a few sessions, you'll start to recognise players at the tables. Making notes on these players is really starting to pay off ;)

drewspop said...

Klopzi, you gotta get the bug back man. I enjoy reading your posts too much. No more PS2. More poker my man.

Klopzi said...


I'm glad you're liking Interpoker and tearing up the tables. It sounds like the 6-max tables are your thing so keep it up. With winnings and bonuses, your bankroll's gonna beat my in no time.

Klopzi said...

Drew - I'll see what I can do. Playing a SNG at PokerStars tonight. I may play a few more if I'm playing ok, but the sleep deprivation is killing me.

Don't worry though - more poker is on the way for weekend. Just need to find the time to fire up the laptop.

huma said...

Just to add to drewspops comment - you know there are a bunch of poker games for ps2 right? :)

Get yourself a copy of WPT 2006 and have a bit of fun learning crazy pineapple and super-holdem and other variants. Just don't let the super-aggressive style needed to beat that game affect your real gameplay.

Klopzi said...

Huma - I tried WPT 2006 for the Xbox and I wasn't a big fan. The blinds went up too quickly, the computer would play almost any two cards, and the time between hands was unbearable.

I may try Stacked when it comes out, but I suspect it will not even come close to the quality of games I can play online for free.