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05/01/2011 No. 98
he Guardian Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Wed 5 January 2011
Poker: A new year's resolution – pay attention

How did you win money and lose money at the table in 2010? You have to know your patterns

Casinos, famously, have no clocks. Devoted poker players care nothing for time, never mind dates. Phil Ivey once rang his publicist on Christmas Day, totally unaware that it was a special occasion and he might be interrupting.

As for resolutions, these are certainly not time-specific; you should be making them after every poker game you play. Maybe after every hand you play.

Nevertheless, new year is a traditional time for the bigger picture, so why not take the opportunity? In 2010, broadly speaking, with which types of play and in which situations did you make money, and where did you lose money? If you can't answer the question, there's your first resolution. Pay attention.

If you're not sure how to think broadly about "situations", here are a few of mine. This year, in tournaments, I made money by playing a focused, patient game against strong opponents. I lost money by playing greedily and impatiently against weaker opponents, catching their looseness like flu, seeing too many flops in a misjudged hurry to get their chips before they disappeared.

Conversely, in cash games, I won money in new locations by looking for weak line-ups and exploiting my likely table image among strangers. I lost money playing against tough regular opponents who know my game. Resolution: don't play a game stubbornly just because you're used to it. Look around for the best spots.

Perhaps you lost money bluffing too much, or giving up too easily? Maybe you called too many value bets? Did you play stakes that were too high and made you nervous? Fail to lock up profits at the right times, staying on too long and losing it back again? If you don't know your own patterns, perhaps your 2011 resolution should be: keep a notebook.
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