February 18th, 2010



Poker is a long term game, with many short term ups & downs.  Anyone who has played poker on a weekly basis, knows that losing streaks are part of the experience, no matter who well you play. 

If you don't believe me, ask Phil Hellmuth who had his first losing year in 2009, after winning money for like a hundred straight years:

"2009 was my worst year ever in poker.  I did tons of stuff wrong and I actually lost money for the year.  Some people say that the reason that I did poorly was because the players in the fields vastly improved the way that they play poker, and that I am now outside of the top ten in the poker world.  I say the reason that I did poorly in 2009 was because of the fact that I have to deal with so much stuff; both inside, and outside of the poker world: and that eventually caused me to lose my way.  PEMM (P – positive, E – Exercise, M – Moment, M – Meditation) was one of the reasons that I climbed to the top of the poker world, especially in the game with the most skill, Texas Hold'em.  For a long time PEMM has been outside of my immediate purview."-Phil Hellmuth  www.philhellmuth.com/news/poker-blog/

The Wolf doesn't play in games with the best players. In fact, I play in games with the worst players you can imagine. Many are so bad, they're actually good!  I don't know if lack of PEMM, was the primary reason the oldest brat in poker lost money last year. But I do believe, PEMM is one of the many factors that can help poker players win consistently (over the long term). 

All of us are periodically going to get our asses kicked short term. The only question is how long is short. Unfortunately, it can be a very long time, which is why, a poker player has to have a bankroll and the ability to manage it.  I believe that luck is the residue of design.

PEMM is good for the game as are shorter sessions. I have to drive 90 miles each way for a game, so I tend to play very long sessions.

I played Tuesday and was down to $1 of my initial buy in very quickly.  In other words, I had just a chip and a chair after playing less than an hour. I had not made any mistakes,  but had lost 3 big hands when I was 90% or better.  

I say that I am not superstitious but like 99.99% of poker players, I am.  I had decided to change it up by playing fewer hours in a session and not continuing to buy in if I was running bad.  Even though I had plenty more cash in my pocket, I was ready to walk away after an hour. But  I won that hand, even though I wasn't the favorite. I spent the next 3 hours grinding to a 2.5% profit, which felt like a 500% win!

So today, instead of 13 hours at the table like I do most Thursdays, tonight I will play an 8 hour or less session.  Even in low limits, the player who makes the fewest mistakes wins the most in the long run.  Sitting at the table for more than 8 hours is a recipe for disaster, especially when you are not "catching cards".