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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

Boot Camp – Wow! What a summer!

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We're past the four month stage of our twins. That's a big milestone for parents. It means, theoretically, that your baby (babies for us) are sleeping through the night or only getting up once a night. It means they're starting to put together a schedule.

It means I can play poker fairly regularly again.

I can go to more home games, play longer sessions at Full Tilt , Ultimate Bet , Poker Stars or Bodog and even start to play MTTs and SnGs again, both live and online.

I learned a lot this summer, both about my own game and the game itself. Here are some things I learned about myself and about my game from those short, intense summer sessions, colored with the stress of raising twins and a toddler.

• Poker was a good way to wind down, not just make money - Cinderella said it best. "You don't know what you got 'till it's gone." Hair metal bands aren't always right, but in this case it's true. Poker was limited, at best, and so when I could play, it was a fun way to do something other than changing a diaper. It became a diversion, a game more than a bankroll, and I loved it even more after that.

• It's fun, not a waste of time, to play lower stakes - So many players deride the lower stakes, saying you shouldn't bother to play them, but I lowered my stakes on purpose because I did not think I could play optimal poker given the incredible amount of stress, exhaustion and long hours I was feeling at home. But it turned out poker was more fun that way. I could play aggressively, instead of a grinding game, and I felt more relaxed after I played as a result.

• I had to pay attention to the way I felt before I played a session - I was frustrated at times, angry others, exhausted others, and those are not times to be playing poker. You won't ever play well feeling that way unless you're lucky.

• I played tighter as my stack got higher - I played cash games this summer, and when my stack got really high, I tightened up, rather than play loose and free. Why? The money meant more to me now that I had two extra mouths to feed. And I didn't want my time spent earning that money to go to waste because my time was more precious. So occasionally I would just open up a new table or log off entirely and book the win.

• Tournaments were for fun, not for money - If I ever got to play a tournament, I certainly couldn't spent a lot of time on them. They were interrupted by crying children, feedings or changing diapers. I couldn't concentrate that well either. So they were for fun and fun only. Tournaments are nice for scores, but those are far and few between. Really, you should be playing them for fun too.

• SnGs are tighter than ever - If I did play in a SnG, I noticed a trend. It's almost impossible to play a SnG by hoping others will make a mistake anymore. Oh, there are still bad players, but most are content to wait around and hope others get knocked out. I just recently spent a half-hour in SnG on the bubble - in a $2.25 on Full Tilt.

• Cash games are still profitable - But cash games are harder for the average fish to play, so they're still profitable playing a simple, tight/aggressive game.

• Shorter sessions improved my reading skills - Poker was not something I could do all the time, so when I could play it, as I said earlier, I really played it. I focused more, even when I multi-tabled, as I did all the time. That improved my reading skills. Now I'm able to put someone on a hand much easier than ever before. In running, we call short bursts of speed ‘intervals' and they really improve your races. You should try some interval sessions to improve your poker game as well.

• Poker isn't everything - Looking at my girls in their cribs, their chests gently rising, helped take the sting out of all those bad beats I suffered this summer. Poker doesn't matter as much anymore.

But I still love it.

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