EDITOR'S NOTE: Jay Lovinger is on a losing streak, and it isn't pretty. It's so ugly, in fact, it's going to take him three columns to work his way through it. Last week was Part I. Today is Part II of Jackpot Jay: Into the Abyss.
"We all know people who fail to show a lifetime profit in this game, yet insist they are just unlucky. They refuse to acknowledge that maybe there are gaping holes in their games. That maybe it isn't just bad luck that keeps costing them their chips. That maybe, just maybe, the other players are simply better than they are. These people, the ones that won't put in the hard work needed to improve, are the real losers."
-- from "The Making of a Poker Player" by Matt Matros (to be published in April of this year by Kensington)
Well, yeah, Matros is right. But suppose you have put in the work ... you've analyzed your play for leaks ... you've made changes, tried to correct your misbegotten ways ... slowed down (or speeded up) ... moved down in class (or up) ... visited new venues (or returned home to prematurely forsaken ones) -- in other words, done everything in your power, however meager, to fix what is broken and discard what is insensible.
And you still keep losing and losing and losing.
Well, then you have to deal with Jackpot Jay's 10 Levels of Emotional/Psychological Deterioration, which I can tell you from recent personal experience are not pretty.
Though the 10 Levels are somewhat messy -- several can happen simultaneously, and they appear in different sequences in different cases -- they almost always start the same way. In the beginning comes ...
For the first couple of months of my five-month losing streak, I told myself that I was just running bad.
And I was right about the "running bad" part. It was the "just" part where I was off-base.
Can we stipulate here -- among friends -- that no players can lose practically without interruption for five months straight, at everything from no-limit to limit ... from $20-$40 down to $3-$6 ... at 10-handed, six-handed, five-handed, head-to-head ... at turbo and "normal" speed ... in sit-n-go tournaments online and $230 one-table satellites at Foxwoods ... in tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $5 to $10,000 ... without some bad luck, no matter how lousy they are?
I thought so.
Can we also stipulate -- among friends -- that no players can lose practically without interruption for five months straight unless their game has a few holes in it?
But what are the holes? What the !@#$%&!@ are they?
This brings us to the second emotional/psychological phase of long losing streaks ...
The most obvious change I made in my poker game, which coincided with the beginning of my long losing streak, was to be more aggressive. As longtime readers of this column will recall, I had been eerily successful at cashing in Act III tournaments at Foxwoods (at $10,200 per cash), mostly because my survival-oriented game was perfectly suited for Act IIIs, in which all who cash -- whether with the most or the least chips -- win the same amount.