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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

Boot Camp: How To Get Those Fires Stoked Again

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As I've talked about in previous Boot Camps, I'm struggling with an extended losing streak that started at the first of the year.

And it may have crushed my desire to play.

There might be other reasons. It's busier than ever with three little ones - the twins are 2 and Jayden is 4 - and my free time continues to get whittled down to a twig every night. I'm also so mentally exhausted at the end of the night that I don't have the proper tools to bring my brain to the level of concentration needed to play poker and win. The summer's also the summer, a time for extended runs outside, softball and mountain climbing, not sitting inside on the couch playing on PokerStars or in a casino riffling chips.

Hmmm. All of those reasons might also be contributing to why I'm losing.

As a result of all that, plus the losing, I play maybe one or two nights a week, and sometimes, I don't play at all.

But I still love the game, and I want to start playing more again. I also know I can't do that without the fire inside to play. If it's not there, I tend to tilt a lot easier on the inevitable bad beats rather than accepting them as a part of the game. I also get bored a lot easier and start surfing the web and make stupid calls simply out of curiousity, even when I know I'm probably beat.

All of that is a good way to extend a losing streak and maybe further crush my desire to play.

So I need that fire. Here are some ways I'll try to get it back:

• I'm going to play a different game - I'm so sick of No-Limit Hold 'Em. It's still the only game on TV. One thing that's definitely helped is my new love of Omaha High. I've even read a book on it, and usually when I'm playing, I'm playing that game. I'm also actually winning at that game this year. That helps too.  Learn a different game, and when you're sick of Hold 'Em, you won't have to play that to play poker.

• I'm going to play a different limit - I'm going to try Limit, rather than No-Limit, when I do play Hold 'Em. I'm a careful, somewhat conservative player, and I need to figure out a way to deal with the aggressive players that are pushing me around at No-Limit. Until then, I'm going to try to play a limit where I've had some success in the past. It should be fun. If it's not, there's always Pot-Limit.

• I'm going to be patient - I honestly believe when the Internet laws change and online poker is legalized, more of the fish will come back, and that will make the game fun again. I honestly also believe that the economy will improve in the next couple of years, and until then, we might just have to survive.

• I may cut down on the number of tables I play - Sometimes when you add too many tables, it's hard to really enjoy the game because you can't observe the players closely enough to understand who's tight, who's loose and who's smart and is both. It's also harder to recognize opportunities to bluff, and bluffing is fun, even when it doesn't work all the time.

• I may add a couple tables - Then again, most players online these days are tight grinders who don't need a lot of observation, and maybe adding a table or two, and therefore more opportunities for an exciting confrontation, might be the way to go.

• I will play live - I will never get tired of playing live. I can't do it that often - our nearest casino is two hours away, and free days away from the kids are rare. And there's something to me about holding the cards, playing with chips and staring into the soul of an opponent to see if he really meant to bet that much on the river. Plus playing live just might spark something and make me realize how great a game poker actually is.

• I won't worry too much about it - As I said, it's summer, and as the air grows colder, I'll have more time to play and will also probably want to play.

And let's be honest. Breaks away from the game are good. Whenever I'm struggling at the plate, I usually just stop playing for a few weeks, and all those bad habits disappear.

I'm hoping the same thing happens to my poker game.

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