I care way too much about what others think about me. I always have and probably always will. And, not just people I know, but I care about what complete strangers think about me as well. Though I have discovered there is one exception to this, when I am at a poker table I don't give a flying fuck what anyone thinks. As long as they are strangers that is. Do I want to be liked? Sure, who doesn't but at the poker table I don't feel as if it is as necessary. I mean, I'm never going to play the way every person at the table wants me too. I've got my style and they have theirs. If I am off my game, I shouldn't be at the table and if I care what the table is thinking about me, I'm definitely not going to be on my game. So, when I sit down at the table, I am basically saying "Fuck it" and it tends to work.
I haven't always been this way at the poker table. The first time I sat down at that table at Excalibur, I was scared to death I was going to do something stupid and someone was going to criticize me for it. I got to the point where I was off my game every time I sat down and, last June, it all came to a head.
Last June, while I was in Las Vegas with the bloggers, I couldn't win money to save my life. I was so off my game that I actually fell into a slight depression and spent part of my last night alone in the room watching cable while my friends were burning up the Craps table. I was having fun at the poker table but I just couldn't win because I was concentrating too much on making friends with complete strangers (non-bloggers, I always want to make friends with bloggers). I needed to find a balance, friendly but still playing my game. I knew I could do it but I wasn't sure how.
In December at the blogger event, it all clicked. I played less poker and it worked out much better. I think there was only one session where I left the table down and I wasn't down enough to worry about. I was friendly but not distracted. I paid more attention to how the other people were playing and less attention what they might think if I played a certain hand. I didn't play much poker before the Blogger tournament but the lesson I had learned carried over.
Usually when I play a blogger game I am even more off than with strangers. See, I am friends with many of these people and I get so afraid of what they might say about my game that I can't play the way I want to. Every move takes more thought than usual because I'm not only thinking about how to play the hand but I'm thinking about what everyone at the table will think if I play it incorrectly. In December, when I sat down at the blogger tournament, I discovered that most of the others at my table were bloggers I had never met. They didn't know me, I didn't know them, we were strangers. I played my game and didn't care if anyone at the table liked me or not. This prepared me for the later stages of the tournament when I was sitting with more familiar faces. I kept my game going and managed a nerve racking 7th place finish.
I'm sure the next time I sit down with bloggers I'll slip a bit, especially if they are bloggers whose games I really respect but I can sit down with a table of strangers with no problem as I did just 2 weeks ago when I was in Reno for my birthday. I played my game, my way and left Reno up for the weekend. I felt good the entire time I was at the table, though the drinks could have had something to do with that as they were strong for free casino drinks, and I was very proud of myself for reaching this place in my game. Now if I could just carry it over into the rest of my life......