Freedom

by ~ October 16th, 2009. Filed under: Fear of raising series, Philosophy and approach, Poker aggression, Poker psychology, Weaknesses.


Are you free? Or maybe the question should be, how free are you? To what degree can you say that you chose to work every day, at the job that you work at? Or school, or family situation?

Sometimes I wonder about people who commit crimes or commit suicide or suffer mental breakdowns or stress implosions. I think to myself, what keeps a person from breaking free, from leaving their situation and city, from moving to a small town and living on the outskirts by themselves? Of course a child can’t do this, and most people probably don’t even consider the option of leaving their job, friends, family, lifestyle, and just living by themselves. Some of us probably aren’t very capable of doing so either, maybe because we don’t know how to live by ourselves, to live that separate or removed, like Dick Proenneke chose to do. Dick is the fellow who chose to move to a lake in Alaska, build his own cabin, live by himself but took along an 8mm camera and notebooks to journalize his life. But not many of us are like Dick. Still, it might be better to try than to kill oneself or someone else.

Even if we don’t need to be that free, how free are you? Free enough to jump into the car on a Tuesday morning and drive to the mountains/beach/park and spend all day there if you choose? Or you’re walking down the sidewalk. Are you free enough to sprint to the corner, or to hop there on one foot if you chose to do so? That’s the kind of freedom little kids experience. You want to get from here to there? Run!

Two things; as adults we’re no longer in the habit of considering that we could run from here to there, so maybe our habitual programming is restricting us. But even if we considered the idea, would we actually do it? Run down the sidewalk, in sight of other people, not trying to catch a bus or street light change or small child, just running to get from here to there.

There are of course adults who would do this, or similar things, and often. If it’s too often, then perhaps they lack the opposite; some degree of self-restraint or discretion. They may have a weak inhibitor and indeed we might find them difficult to be around, or feel uncomfortable in their presence. I was flipping through channels last night and saw a rerun of the first episode of Joe Average: Hawaii Season Two and there was a guy annoying everyone with his antics and behavior right off the bat. I found the show and the guy on IMDB and he’s been working on television/movies ever since; go figure. If you lack self-restraint or discretion you can make a living on television, or maybe this was a cultivated image on his part from the beginning.

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And what does this have to do with poker? I find that I lack the freedom to do things in certain situations. Good example; my bet/raise/fold exercise with play money years back. Because of my rules/restrictions I could not call, meaning that I was forced to 3bet more, not to limp behind, not chase draws or slowplay. Be aggressive rather than passive or tricky. This was an image challenge for me and it helped to develop both aggression and, oddly enough, the ability to fold to aggression from an opponent. A similar exercise is to cover my cards with a sticky note, and play just based on reads. I tried this one once but found it too uncomfortable to play without the “crutch” of seeing my cards. And I’ve never tried to just run over a table intentionally, pressuring constantly in the early streets.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere I feel that I’m too attached to my online poker persona. I’m not “free” to do as I please, to play as I might choose. Some of this is the result of programming that I’ve worked on for years, a playing style that adjusts slightly for different buyins, different opponents, different situations in tournament situations, but is still pretty strict and doesn’t allow for radical plays. The strictness helps to limit spewage but it also helps to limit my freedom.

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The bet/raise/fold exercise is pretty straightforward. Buy into a higher level play money sit and go (the low ones are too loose to be of any use). You are only allowed to bet/raise/fold/check, never call unless you call all in. At first this felt to me a lot like I was giving up the ability to walk; I had to either stand still or run, and was being forced to do so in front of eight other people. I felt pretty self-conscious about it but I learned a lot, including how to fold if someone else shows aggression, either before your turn or after you have already bet.

By artificially restricting my freedom, I improved my ability to open raise/bet, and my ability to fold. I exercised those muscles, or refocused my options by getting more comfortable with those choices, ingraining them more as my new habits, or at least as higher frequency tendencies.

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My father has been in an extended care hospital for a few months with problems with his back muscles. Last time I was visiting him he said that he envies people walking down the hallway so easily. I replied that they alway say, you don’t know what you have until you don’t have it anymore. His mobility freedom is restricted even more than mine. Mine is more mental; habit-based, laziness-based and “maturity” influenced. His restriction now includes physical as he can’t run or hop even if he wanted to do so.

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Kind of a meandering entry. I’m not sure what the central point is, other than; you have more freedom than you are aware of.

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