Saturday, March 18, 2006

Goals in Poker Or Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Filed Under: Poker, Commentary

Is setting goals for your poker play a good idea?

The Genereal Goal: "I want to become a better poker player." "I want to build my bankroll." Everyone should have general goals. A broad stroke of what you expect from playing the game is good. This may be just wanting to have fun and taking part in the social aspect of the experience.

The Specific Goal: Since the player I'm most knowledgable about would be myself, let's take a look at a post I wrote on December 31st that outlined my goals for the coming year.
"For the immediate future if I don't have a bonus or some other incentive to play at a site, I won't be playing there." Well that went out the window sometime in February. I was having an abysmal run at the limit and no limit ring games. This was due to my achilles heel of poker. Fixation on the bankroll. My funds were low to begin with and I placed so much pressure on myself that I was cracking. I had to get out from under it and start having fun again. Since February 25th I haven't even sat in on a ring game. I'm now playing Sit-N-Go's and Multi-Table tournaments exclusively. This is where my talent lies so that's what I'm playing. At the levels I'm currently playing there really is no profit in bonus whoring unless the site I'm comfortable at is offering a reload.

"To go along with the bonus whoring, I've also decided to not play any ring games at a site if it is not supported by Poker Tracker." Well I'm not playing ring games anymore. The sites I'm playing at do support Poker Tracker though so I'm still on track, kinda.

"I've always been a devout proponent of having 300BB's at a limit before playing that level. I've fluctuated the levels I've played at in the past based on it. Having said that though, I'm going to break form and play $1/$2 with my $400 bankroll." What's the good in having an achilles heel if you can't suffer from it's affects every now and then. Right?

"In order to feel comfortable with that decision though I'm going to have to make some sacrifices. Namely my recent Sit-N-Go adventures will now have to go on hiatus. I also can't afford to spend money on many multi-table tournaments." Oh yea of little faith.

"I will also play the monthly KCPC live tournaments but I'm going to have to give up my monthly Casino play until I can get a live bankroll going." That one I've stuck with.

"Once I have been able to establish each of the bankrolls I will begin to use my online ring game roll to delve more into the no limit arena." My impatience led me to the no limit games before I was ready to take the swings. Noticing a theme here.

"Of course all of this will be dependent on my doing something I've never been able to do before. That is to leave my bankroll alone." Couldn't do it. I ended up taking $1,500 out of my $2,000 win last week to pay some bills.

General Specific Goals: This may seem odd but here is what I'm getting at. Last year I made it my goal to win the Bluff Poker Tour. I failed in this and came up a little short in the end finishing second. This type of goal is more specific than the general "be a better player" type but specific enough to warrant it's own place. A common goal of this type would be to win your way through satellites to the WSOP or WPT.

I've learned that I can live with the general specific goal but not the specific goal. The game of poker is a fluid entity and conforming to rigid guidelines doesn't fit my personality. My game suffers when I put to much pressure on myself. Oddly in my day job I flourish in pressure situations and gain exhileration from them. It seems a contradiction that one situation presents itself so differently for me, but that leads to my answer of whether setting goals in poker is a good idea. In order to know if its right for you, you really need to know how well you respond to that type of pressure.

Or you can just insert the answer for everything poker: It Just Depends