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Photo Finish

I decided to look over my stats for the month after my session last night. I've played 3,600 hands at Full Tilt over the past few weeks. It feels like I've played many more hands than that but the numbers don't lie. I only play about 250-300 hands per session so I guess 12 sessions over 21 days seems spot on. And if 12 sessions in 21 days doesn't seem like much to you, go get married, have a couple kids, and get back to me...

I've cleared $60 of my bonus at Full Tilt. I've also picked up an additional $30 or so in rakeback. And I've lost just over three buy-ins. That may not sound all that great but I'm actually pretty happy with my play. If I account for all-in luck, I'm actually running pretty close to break even. So I'm getting there, slowly but surely.

I figure that I've got another 3,000 hands to play at Full Tilt before my bonus is cleared. If I can get a little lucky, maybe I'll be able to climb my way back into the black for the month. But I'm trying my best to overlook all of that and just focus on making good decisions. I'm still making mistakes but I'm starting to get a little more comfortable at the tables again. My bankroll's about $300 short of where I'd like it to be before I start introducing some $100 tables back into the mix.

Besides playing a little more poker this month, I've been reading a ton of Hwang's Advanced PLO and Miller/Flynn/Mehta's Small Stakes No-Limit Hold'em, I've been trying to work on my mental game by reading The Poker Mindset. I tilt easily and definitely lacking in terms of mental preparedness when it comes to playing poker but there are still a number of things that I do quite well at the table.

For example, I'm always happy to lose a big pot to a bad beat. Why? Because I'm just so damned happy that I got my money in good for once. You want to crack my AK with your AQ? I can take it. I'm sure there's something wrong with me in this regard. I shouldn't take so much joy in losing but I do. I'm much happier when I win big pots but bad beats don't seem to bug me. But when it comes to putting my money in bad? Insta-tilt!

The other thing that really saves my bacon time and again is my disciplined approach to bankroll management. I don't take chances and I don't take shots. This allows me to win or lose without caring about the money or the overall health of my bankroll. That's not to say that I don't hate losing: I really, really hate losing. But once my laptop's away, an hour spent watching TV with my wife or playing video games is enough to pull me back from the brink. I sometimes wonder if I'd put more time into poker if the money mattered more than it does. Who knows?

What I do know is that I've got 12 days left to clear 3000 hands at Full Tilt. We may be in for a photo finish...

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