Playing the "A" Game

DrTriciaDrTricia RCP Coach Posts: 190 ✭✭
edited November 2015 in General Concepts
Hey guys & gals!

I'm at work on a new book with Jonathan Little and the focus of this one is how to play your "a" game more consistently.

Because you guys are my friends and colleagues, I want to give you the chance to help shape the book & make it a book you would want to read :-)

What specific things have you noticed take you off your "A" game?

Once you get off your "A" game, how do you get back on?

How long are you able to stay on your "A" game? Is it a few minutes at a time or more like a few hours?


I'd love to hear anything you want to share on this topic! Just having a discussion gets my brain cells firing :-)

Thanks for the help!

Tricia

Comments

  • CognosFishCognosFish Red Chipper Posts: 11
    Personally playing my A game is all about my ability to focus on the game which I believe originates from a myriad of factors. I am not a professional although I do take the game seriously. However, this fact means that I have a job and other professional pressures that can follow me to the poker table if I let them. I find that I am able to play a lot better if I am able to divorce these from the poker table. For me this comes from the realization that there is enough going on at the table that demands my full attention and if I find my thoughts drifting to other things than I am not playing my A game.

    I also like to put away my phone for the same reason. Playing live poker can be sensory overload if you allow it. TV’s, cocktail waitresses, girlfriend texting you, all if it can take away from focus that should be on the table. Once again I try to come to the realization that action on the table is extremely important no matter if I am involved in it or not so I should be paying attention.

    To do this I like to try and “fill my time” at the table. A poker video I watched once suggested you peek at your first card the second you get it and start to fill out your own range in your head. While I try and balance this with watching other players I have found it extremely useful. So if I look down at a :4c UTG I am constructing the range I would play and the range I would fold before I see my next card. (In this example I might limp pocket fours some % of the time, but likely fold), then I am watching other players, then I am trying to construct ranges and player types based on action. I am trying to keep my time full.

    I feel like I am starting to drift away from my A game when I start to think about things not related to poker or the table in anyway. I normally will stand up, get some coffee, pull my phone out and check it and then try and go back. If I cannot focus but I still feel like I have an edge I will continue to play until I feel like I don’t have enough of an edge. The second I feel like people have an edge on me I try to get up. I think I do pretty well at it actually.
  • zagaresezagarese Red Chipper Posts: 200 ✭✭
    I tend to be on my "A" game for about 3 hours.

    I have a very steady routine of playing a 'set' which usually takes three hours, doing something else then going back and doing another 'set'. If I play much longer than that I usually slide into B, C games.

    The single thing which affects my A game the most is fatigue. I will quit before the end of that three hours if I start to detect any of a number of passive leaks that I have in my game - calling river bets is a common one or playing any QQxx or JJxx in omaha variants from any position. Both of these indicate that I'm tired, wanting to win, pushing buttons, all that. Time to quit.

    So fatigue gets me off my A game. Quitting, resting, coming back later gets me back on.
  • Riverboat BillRiverboat Bill Red Chipper Posts: 454 ✭✭
    I have a problem with certain players that can pull me off my A Game. I start thinking about them, even when we are not in a hand together. Maybe, it an annoying habit or trying to get into my head. A player who likes to trash his opponent if he wins a hand, overly aggressive outside of the hand. I sometimes end up playing that player and not my hand. I might make a play differently if they are in the hand.

    Too tired is also one. When I get that feeling, it's my last hand.

    Finding another table is not always an option in smaller casinos. Maybe just one game is available I want to play.
  • zagaresezagarese Red Chipper Posts: 200 ✭✭
    Riverboat Bill`s post raises an important point between live and online.

    I play online mostly so my 3 hours poker, 3 hours gardening, 3 hours poker routine works well.

    But if I want to play live I have to drive an hour and the temptation to stay past tired is strong because you get so few hands in a live game.

    I expect that effective maintenance of the A game is different live and online.

    I also know that for myself effective maintenance of my A game in both environments is strongly related to maintaining a routine.
  • Jimmy3150Jimmy3150 Red Chipper Posts: 362 ✭✭
    Things that take me off the A game:

    1) fatigue; right now I'm struggling to play poker at any times other than a few hours after work when I'm generally v tired, it's really not optimal - I'm pretty much off my A game from the get-go.

    2) bad day at work; being frustrated and annoyed at work usually leads to me making mistakes at the table; sometimes I've been tilted before even playing the first hand.

    3) Winning or losing a big pot; usually it takes me 10 minutes cool-off time after a big/intensive hand; I'm thinking too much about the choices made in the previous hand in order to play the next one with full concentration.

    4) poker know-it-all; there's always one ... Some guy at the table that is incredibly long of himself in every way including his poker prowess; usually I have to gather my chips and leave.
  • DrTriciaDrTricia RCP Coach Posts: 190 ✭✭
    CognosFish wrote:
    Personally playing my A game is all about my ability to focus on the game which I believe originates from a myriad of factors. I am not a professional although I do take the game seriously. However, this fact means that I have a job and other professional pressures that can follow me to the poker table if I let them. I find that I am able to play a lot better if I am able to divorce these from the poker table. For me this comes from the realization that there is enough going on at the table that demands my full attention and if I find my thoughts drifting to other things than I am not playing my A game.

    I also like to put away my phone for the same reason. Playing live poker can be sensory overload if you allow it. TV’s, cocktail waitresses, girlfriend texting you, all if it can take away from focus that should be on the table. Once again I try to come to the realization that action on the table is extremely important no matter if I am involved in it or not so I should be paying attention.

    To do this I like to try and “fill my time” at the table. A poker video I watched once suggested you peek at your first card the second you get it and start to fill out your own range in your head. While I try and balance this with watching other players I have found it extremely useful. So if I look down at a :4c UTG I am constructing the range I would play and the range I would fold before I see my next card. (In this example I might limp pocket fours some % of the time, but likely fold), then I am watching other players, then I am trying to construct ranges and player types based on action. I am trying to keep my time full.

    I feel like I am starting to drift away from my A game when I start to think about things not related to poker or the table in anyway. I normally will stand up, get some coffee, pull my phone out and check it and then try and go back. If I cannot focus but I still feel like I have an edge I will continue to play until I feel like I don’t have enough of an edge. The second I feel like people have an edge on me I try to get up. I think I do pretty well at it actually.

    Love the strategy of filling your time at the table! So smart!

    I'm impressed with your ability to get up from the table when you have lost your edge. So many people lose $$$ in that exact spot!

    Have you always been able to do this or is this something that you have learned over time?

    Tricia
  • DrTriciaDrTricia RCP Coach Posts: 190 ✭✭
    zagarese wrote:
    I tend to be on my "A" game for about 3 hours.

    I have a very steady routine of playing a 'set' which usually takes three hours, doing something else then going back and doing another 'set'. If I play much longer than that I usually slide into B, C games.

    The single thing which affects my A game the most is fatigue. I will quit before the end of that three hours if I start to detect any of a number of passive leaks that I have in my game - calling river bets is a common one or playing any QQxx or JJxx in omaha variants from any position. Both of these indicate that I'm tired, wanting to win, pushing buttons, all that. Time to quit.

    So fatigue gets me off my A game. Quitting, resting, coming back later gets me back on.

    Very interesting! I've heard that 3 hour time frame from several players in the last couple of weeks. It's great that you are so aware of your time limits and are able to step away from the table when you are not playing to your fullest potential.

    Tricia
  • DrTriciaDrTricia RCP Coach Posts: 190 ✭✭
    I have a problem with certain players that can pull me off my A Game. I start thinking about them, even when we are not in a hand together. Maybe, it an annoying habit or trying to get into my head. A player who likes to trash his opponent if he wins a hand, overly aggressive outside of the hand. I sometimes end up playing that player and not my hand. I might make a play differently if they are in the hand.

    Too tired is also one. When I get that feeling, it's my last hand.

    Finding another table is not always an option in smaller casinos. Maybe just one game is available I want to play.

    I hear you! There are certain players who can really drive me nuts!! I hate it when there's only 1 available table and you are stuck next to an irritant :-)

    Tricia
  • DrTriciaDrTricia RCP Coach Posts: 190 ✭✭
    Jimmy3150 wrote:
    Things that take me off the A game:

    1) fatigue; right now I'm struggling to play poker at any times other than a few hours after work when I'm generally v tired, it's really not optimal - I'm pretty much off my A game from the get-go.

    2) bad day at work; being frustrated and annoyed at work usually leads to me making mistakes at the table; sometimes I've been tilted before even playing the first hand.

    3) Winning or losing a big pot; usually it takes me 10 minutes cool-off time after a big/intensive hand; I'm thinking too much about the choices made in the previous hand in order to play the next one with full concentration.

    4) poker know-it-all; there's always one ... Some guy at the table that is incredibly long of himself in every way including his poker prowess; usually I have to gather my chips and leave.

    This is a great list!

    the more I play poker and work with players on the mental game the more convinced I become that we all need clearly defined systems and strategies to deal with the many things that can cost us $$.

    Thanks!

    Tricia

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