Wednesday, 21 August 2013

An Ode To Sore Losers

If you google the term "sore loser" you'll find explanations such as:
"someone who loses in a fair competition but whines about it on a constant basis, blaming everyone around them for their loss except themselves. Fun to taunt, but no fun to play with", 
"someone who can't simply be honorable, by accepting defeat and/or trying again. On the contrary, said individual or group engages in childish pissing and moaning". 
Lack of sportsmanship is, unfortunately, something that we often encounter in all types of sports and games, in every situation where there is some sort of competition. Poker being a game, and a highly competitive one, could not escape the rule. So poker gets to have its fair share of sore losers.

If you play poker, professionally or as a recreation, you must have encountered at least a few people that fall into that category. If you have encountered a lot of them, you may have gained the ability to tolerate them or grown a thicker skin and remain completely unaffected by their comments. They are both at live and online tables, but online sore losers have a tendency to express themselves more freely due to the convenience of hiding behind a screen name.

Personally, when I first started playing poker this was one of the things that bothered me the most. As if losing weren't enough, I had to endure nasty comments about the way I played which, as you can imagine, only made the learning process more difficult and the game less fun. After keeping my chat turned off for quite some time, I finally learned to ignore those types of comments. Nowadays, they can't touch me. I hardly bother to reply to those people and when I do, it's mostly out of curiosity towards their specimen. We work in entirely different ways and sometimes I feel an interest to understand why they act the way they do.

An observation that I made is that as you move higher up in stakes, the less likely it is to encounter players of that kind. I guess that's easily explainable by the fact that a player who plays higher stakes has probably got a deeper understanding of the game and therefore is not so emotional when losing. Not that this is a golden rule or anything, of course it's possible to find someone whining at any stake or format. However, it's way more likely to happen at lower stakes where people don't necessarily play that well, don't care that much about the game and they see poker as a way to blow steam off. And there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you respect the others at the table with you.

The more sore losers I encountered, the more I noticed that they actually have some patterns. I think their reactions can be organized in categories. In this post, I'll try to identify and analyze the types of sore losers that I have encountered so far. So here we go.

- Mr. Happy: This guy is actually not that bad. Whenever he takes a bad beat or loses a hand that he feels he shouldn't, he writes stuff like "Lol", "Lolololololol", "LOOOOOOOOOL", "Hahaha!", "Ahahahahaha!!!!". Since these things are actually easy to type, when you have "Mr. Happy" at your table you'll often find it hard to read the dealer messages cause your chat box will be filled with lines of "lols". Then again, it's not really that offensive, only a bit annoying and if it makes those people happy then what can I say?

- Mr. Speedy: This guy does not necessarily play fast but he expects all of his opponents to do so. From this type of guy you'll get comments like "Are you seriously thinking about it?", "What are you waiting for?" or the good old-fashioned "zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz". I especially like it when they start with capitals and finish with lower case "ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz" as if to tell you that you are taking so long that they are really dozing off and cannot even type anymore. Needless to say, Mr. Speedy often plays one single table and it is beyond his imagination that other people may be playing more. Even if he plays more than one, the fact that he is getting bored is indicative that maybe he should be playing more. Now why he chooses to waste his energies bugging other people instead of opening more tables, that I don't know. Trying to reason with Mr. Speedy will not work, so you'd better avoid replies like "If you're sleepy you probably shouldn't be playing poker" or "Time bank exists for a reason". Most of the times replying something like "30tabling" will do the job!

- Mr. Frustrated: Not only is he bothered when he loses, but he will also be indignant when other people take bad beats. This guy is tilting so badly and is so frustrated that he will often comment at the misfortunes of his opponents. He sees 23s cracking a pair of Aces and goes "Sure why not", "Yeah ok", "Whatever!", "OMG" etc. Frequently, after a certain point this guy will get so frustrated that he will not even be able to type, so you'll get stuff like "a;lsdkajfds;lkfjas;d" and "S:;alij;AOESIoiuhEQP3845". Talking about tilting! Not the worst type of a sore loser, but still pretty annoying since they don't lose an opportunity to make a comment.

- Mr. Nice: This guy is actually not very nice. It's the player that will shower you with all the nasty words they have in their vocabulary (which out of respect to my readers I will not reproduce here, but you get the picture). They will keep ranting and calling you names for taking their chips, then after a while when they calm down they will... apologize! Mr. Nice guy is pretty rare so you won't encounter him often. However, I did find one at the tables the other day... It was a player that had been calling me names for some time at the tables, then one day he asks if I'm Andre Coimbra's girlfriend. I say yes, and he said he was sorry for all the stuff that he had said to me, that it was under the pressure of losing... And then went on about how he was a big fan of André's and liked his work! I do appreciate when someone sincerely says they're sorry, but it got me thinking, if I weren't André's girlfriend then I wouldn't be worthy of his apology? As if one thing has something to do with the other? Oh whatever, the bottom line is that he did apologize which is more than most people do anyway... Go go Mr. Nice!

- The Stalker: He will do what every well-respected stalker does: follow you from one table to the other and bash you. Nothing really interesting about this case of sore loser and he is usually on such a tilt that there's nothing you can say that will calm him down. Still, it's pretty funny when you get seated at a new table, you're waiting for the tournament to start, not a single hand has been played yet and there's a guy pissed at you writing things like "A7o? Really? You call me with A7o? Well done, you played it really well!". Plus a couple of insults of course!

- Mr. Jokerstars: This type is exclusive at Pokerstars, you will not find them playing at any other site! It's the guy that every time he gets a bad beat or loses a hand will type "Jokerstars!" in the chat. This guy is easily identified by the lack of use of other words. At the best case scenario you'll get something "Jokerstars again" or "F***ing Jokerstars". Joke +  Pokerstars = Jokerstars. Okay, I get it. According to you, Pokerstars is a joke. But this one is getting old, so find something else to say!

- Mr. Anti-Supernova: This is another exclusivity of Pokerstars. They're sworn enemies not only of Supernovas, but also Supernova Elites. Unlike other people that lose, Mr. Anti-Supernova blames it all on the VIP status. Of course, Mr. Anti-Supernova is always from Platinum level and below. And he thinks, that among the known privileges of Supernova+ levels such as a higher FPP multiplier or Milestone cash bonuses, we also get a secret button on our screen that says "Bad beat" and we give other players brutal bad beats whenever we feel like it. My only question is why these people don't try to make it to Supernova to enjoy this special benefit... Go figure!

- The Professor: This player wants to educate you. They'll lose a hand then go on explaining why you played it in the worst possible way. And they don't always do it respectfully, so you can expect them to throw in some insults along with the explanation. I used to find this kind of sore loser pretty intimidating, cause when you are a new player and don't trust your plays, the Professor will make you doubt yourself and what you did. Of course, most of the time these guys have no idea what they're talking about but they make it sound as if they know everything there is to know about poker. I just can't understand why with all that knowledge instead of playing the nose-bleeds they're stuck down here with the rest of us... And come on, even if we assume that they do know what they're talking about, why would they really want to teach their opponents?!?

- Mr. Boring: This guy is what the title suggests. Boring. He'll get pissed alright, but you'll only get comments like "Idiot", "Stupid", "So lucky", "Donk" etc. Enough said about this one, I'm already getting bored...

- Mr. Original: Unlike Mr. Boring, Mr. Original will find new things to say. Most likely, you have never been insulted the same way before. Sometimes his comments will not exactly sound like an insult, but Mr. Original is pretty pissed, so you should take it as one. To give you an example, someone once wrote to me "You stupid banana float". See? I had never been called a banana float before, let alone a stupid one! I'm not even sure what that means... In any case, I don't really mind having a Mr. Original at my tables. At least they spice it up a bit! :P

-Mr. Traditional: This guy could also fit under the classification of Mr. Boring cause he is pretty boring to tell you the truth, but he earned himself a separate category because he blames it all on the most common reason for losing: "This site is rigged!". This comment is such a big cliché that I can only call this sore loser "Mr. Traditional". I won't go into details analyzing why it would be a bad move to operate a site that's rigged. I think that's obvious, especially for a company like Pokerstars who invests so much on integrity and keeping the site clean. But let's assume Mr. Traditional, just for the sake of arguing, that you are actually right and the site is indeed rigged. Question number one: What does the site have against you in particular? I mean, yeah, it's rigged, sure, but why is it rigged so that you lose and everyone else wins? Did you do something to piss them off maybe? Could it be that they don't like your face? (Which they have never seen, but I'm just guessing here!) Why is it that they chose to target you out of all the players? I'd really want to know. And question number two: If you truly, wholeheartedly believe that the site is rigged, then why do you keep playing in it? Cause I'll tell you, saying that the site is rigged and playing in it day after day after day says something about your intelligence and it's not a good thing at all! I've actually tried asking that question once to a Mr. Traditional. I told him "why do you keep playing if you think it's rigged?". The result was that I never saw that player again. It could be just coincidence, maybe we didn't happen to play at the same tables again or it could be that he really stopped playing. In any case, asking stuff like that only hurts my EV on the long run so I've come to the conclusion that the best course of action in this case is... Complete and total silence.

Finally, I'd like to talk about one common misunderstanding. Very often at my tables, people say "I had the best hand and I lost" or "I lost 5 consecutive times with the best hand". I don't know if those people didn't get the memo, but in Poker the best hand ALWAYS wins. Always as in 100% of the times. If you have the best hand, you are guaranteed to have the chips coming your way. Now if what those people mean is that they had the best hand preflop or that they had the best two hole cards and they didn't win, yeah okay that sucks, but you need to be able to tell the difference. After all, if it was as simple as the best hole cards always winning then none of us would be playing poker now, would we?

I'm not saying that losing is easy. I've often complained here on my blog about downswinging and bad beats that I've taken. It's hard, it's frustrating, it pisses us all off (we are, after all, humans!), it makes us doubt ourselves. To sum it all up, it sucks big time! There are entire forums dedicated to bad beat talk, where people don't look for confirmation as to whether they played a hand well or not, they just want to blow steam off. They want to hear other people say "Oh, what a bad beat!" or "Wow, that was insanely unlucky!" And I think that's important and even necessary for poker players. But there's a thin line that separates people that just get something off of their chest in a healthy way and others that do so by harassing others. Losing is something that happens to all of us without exception. In the end, it's how we react to it that separates us. And only you can choose what side of that line you want to be on.

I'd like to hear what you guys think about this subject. I felt like writing this post as an indirect reply (with a dose of humor) to all sore losers that have tried to bother me in the past (plus the ones that will try to do so in the future). This one is dedicated to everyone that chooses to not reply to their comments. If you think that I've omitted a sore loser category, please feel free to add it in the comments below!

See you at the tables! 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Back to the hypers: July overview


First of all, I want to thank everyone that sent me messages after my last post. Your support has been great! I decided to stick to the hypers and not try another format just yet.

As soon as I got back to business and opened Pokerstars lobby again, I found myself facing a big problem: my Supernova status was expiring at the end of July. In case you are not familiar with it, Pokerstars extends your Supernova status on a month-to-month basis, considering you win 6.500 VPPs per month. You are allowed to miss that accrual for two months, but after the third month of not getting enough VPPs, you lose Supernova and you are dropped down to whatever status corresponds to the amount of VPPs you earned that month. Not great.

The first month I missed the accrual was April, after a downswing. Then, I got back to playing in May, but I had an even worst downswing. I got the VPPs in May, but I was feeling so bad that I didn't play a single game in June. So June was the second month I missed. When I decided to play again on July 11th, I had to somehow get 6.500 VPPs. To some that may sound as an insignificant amount. I would consider it easy to achieve some months ago. The problem was, that after being away from the tables for two whole months my game was very rusty. I didn't remember how to play that well, I could definitely not 12table at that point and my bankroll did not allow me to play the same games I was playing before.

So I had to play lower, and less tables. I started with 4tabling. The good thing about all this is that July is the Micromillions month and that helped increase the traffic at the lower stakes. There were some $7,50 satellites for the Micromillions main event that were running pretty much all day long, all month long. Most of the time I was grinding those and the $12s. Those games give around 1 VPP each. Sometimes when there wasn't enough traffic, I would open $3,75s. Those give 0.39 VPPs but I really needed even that small fraction. Fortunately, I was running good so when I boosted my bankroll a bit, I played a few $18s. Funny how back in May the $18s were the lowest stake I'd play while now it's the highest. More sad than funny actually... Anyways, the $18s did not go so well so I stopped playing them.

I managed to renew my status just in the nick of time, having played a total of 6.323 games. Now, considering that during the whole year up to that point I had only played around 15k games, that I had lost the first 10 days of July and that I had been away from the virtual felt for two months, let me tell you it was pretty hard to achieve. The good news is I did make it, with a profit and by the end of the month I was back at playing my regular 12 tables.

Here's the graph for July:

Having some space to breathe, I was a lot more optimistic in the beginning of August. I started running bad, and reached a -1k point but then I was able to turn it around. Right now I'm break even for the month, but we're only halfway so things can get better (or worse, but I try not to think about that!). Also, from a VPP point of view I'm only missing 700 points or so for this month's accrual. And I'm at 83k VPPs for the year so I'm hoping that soon I'll renew my Supernova status for the rest of 2013 and I will have one less thing putting pressure on me.

Now that I feel like I got the hang of it again and I have more time, it's time to study. Frankly, I should have started studying in the beginning of the month, but I've been lazy. Which is not good at all. My current goal is to move up in stakes, cause with the WCOOP coming up I want to be able to play the $37s. I'm not there yet bankroll-wise and studying is the only way I can make it happen. I also need to work on my mental game, but August is the worst possible month for work. No wonder people take time off in August... Even here in the city I just feel like going out for a coffee or doing nothing at all. The weather is so nice! Let's see if I can concentrate in order to put in some volume...

Good luck to everyone at the tables and enjoy your holidays to those of you that are by the beach! :)


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