Processing Thoughts

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Processing Thoughts

Hi guys, this might be the wrong place for this, but essentially I feel the need to write a lot for the sake of my (poker) mental health. It'll basically be a sorta blog but cos it's being done to help my tilt problem (by processing the infinite shit going on in my head) but I'm just gonna leave it here for now. It might be a bit of a rant cos I'm a little bit raging. (edit after writing, it also makes me sound fairly crazy :-P )

Bit of background, I'm a long time Zoom 100-500 player on Stars who's recently transitioned to Party FF.

I'd been sorta half struggling all year, no real momentum until a couple of months ago when it was like something just snapped in me. Suddenly sick of 'trying' to attain a Zen sorta place when playing or 'trying' to fucking 'accept' things and trying to 'attain' a conducive 'mindset' when playing (sorry for the Trump-esq quotes but it reflects that I don't really see those words as real things), I was like fuck this, I'm doing it differently from now on.

I had so much fucking rage it was unbelievable, sorta at myself but mainly at all the snidey tilty things my mind comes out with while playing.

You know the type I mean, there's obvious fear based things like 'this guy just knows you to beat you', but then there are a ton more subtle things such as when the turn's a K in a 3bet pot and I have QQ it says 'JJ folds now, can't bet', but when I have a bluff it says 'obvious bluff card, obviously never folding underpairs'.

At the risk of sounding schizo (obv not the literal disease, the pop translation of what that word means) this voice chimes on and on and on and on, whispering and undermining and interrupting the actual poker narrative, the one present when I used to produce videos.

What changed in me was that I'd had enough of this voice ruining everything. I started to be totally uncompromising with it, with one side of my brain almost literally shouting FUCK, OFF! at it whenever it tried to chime in with anything. At the same time, I realised that unless I shone real light on everything it said and recognised the nonsense of each item, that I would never be 'free' of it.

So I dropped from 4 to 3 tables, and had as my 4th window a notepad file where I would quickly write any thought that popped into my head. In doing so, this stopped each thought taking root and having my body 'act out' from the thought, with the thought simply being noticed instead.

After a very short while, the thoughts stopped being problematic ones and were instead more geared towards strategy.

At this point I went on a 150k hand stretch at 100z and 200z winning $16k and winning at 8.8bb. Not only that but I felt completely in the zone at all times.

The reason I'm writing this is that I got out of the habit of writing down my thoughts after a while. This wasn't a problem for a few weeks, I guess the momentum of the sheer mindfulness that I'd practiced kept me going for a while, but after moving to Party things started to go downhill.

The games on Party seem so much softer than on Stars, but I've been completely losing my shirt on there. The voice has been back (and today was the first time on Party I truly recognised it for what it is). Not only has the voice returned, it has been constant, and of course the only way in which this matters is that I have been completely believing in what the voice has been saying.

'your style just doesn't work on this site'
'regs are so random, you can't hand read them'
'hmm maybe actually regs are just like reallly really good and they have poker solved and Dan you're the problem'
'whatever you do, you will lose'
'look you idiot you didn't raise a set and now he's made a flush and it's all cos you're an idiot you idiot'
'you don't watch enough videos, you're behind the curve, you idiot'
bluff fails 'you idiot you can NEVER bluff people on this site zomg you are so stupid'

etc etc et fucking cetra. As it's obvious to see, there's nothing in there pertaining to actual rational poker strategy, or pertaining to a hand in progress, and indeed every thought is destructive as hell to confidence. They're all black and white i nature, which is a good indicator of an 'ego' thought VS one that arises from awareness of what is currently going on.

They obviously produce emotions too, which in turn generate more such thoughts, which keeps the cycle going.

Essentially, I've been in one giant panic cycle spanning several weeks. How do you break the cycle? Answer: through awareness. Not some abstract concept of awareness, but literally writing down and noticing what the thoughts are saying and in doing so dis-identifying from them.

So the reason for this blog is that I have so many thoughts at the moment that I needed to put them all in one place. As I've been writing I've realised that of the two steps preceding my turnaround (getting insanely mad, and writing every thought down), it is the second that is probably going to have been the important one.

When the thoughts are 'useful', (say, a realisation that timing when bluffing rivers is important) then I think that writing them down gives us a chance to process them, so it's not only problematic thoughts that should be written.

So moral of the story: writing down thoughts whilst playing gives us a chance to dis-identify from them, breaks the panic cycle of tilt, and enhances awareness of THIS happening right this very moment, the hand we are currently playing, which gives us the opportunity to play the hand to our maximum potential.

The end, thanks for reading.

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