…if I knew it was a mistake before I did it? Freud would have a field day with this one, some sort of self-sabotage mumbo jumbo BS. But the devil in the NL game is the split second of mental weakness. Umpteen hours of wise and patient grinding will unravel in one ill-fated and unwise second. The itchy mouse finger of sbo triggers a Kent State massacre on my bankroll, which is only moments away from a real folk classic.

Just for you dear reader,

I’ve been struggling for metaphors, something to make the literati proud. BG would know how to describe this funk. Nobody makes me laugh at shame like he does. Otis has a fine touch with the shameful shortcomings too, but really, do we want to talk about Otis TOUCHING his “shortcomings”? (So concludes today’s unprovoked shot at Otis. The streak continues. He has, for the record, warned me that I’m about 2 shots shy of a retaliatory blast.)

I thought it would be clever to compare my game to Gen. George McClelllan. Yes, I can have be lynched in South Carolina, but what the hell. To Kakalakky credit, he was an historic ass. At the time, say 1861, there was no one anywhere who possesed a sharper sense of the military game. He was the consensus no-brainer for command. But he was also a political aspiriant with no will to play.

So chipped up with a massive stack and a tendancy to catch a lucky draw the brilliant General began 1861 with a massive pre-flop lead. Its also fair to say that few people were SMARTER at post flop play. So let’s consider the abstract. McClellan could.

Our friend Doubleas (he’s linked on the left) is one of my favorite strategic posters. He’s the master of the suspenseful read. And when, in the middle of a post he’s set the stage and asked for our help, I’m usually a champ at reading the board. If Doubleas wants to know, “What does my opponent have here?”, I most likely, have a very good idea. Strategy I can handle.

But at Bull Run McClellan was weak, his deployment too slow. He waited too long for the perfect hand and by the time he caught the cards, his oppnent was 3 steps ahead. He was smart enough to make the play but lacked any agression. If war was just a game of strategy he would have been great, but its not, and McClellan wasn’t. I’ve got that in common at least. But one thing I don’t lack is a sense of aggression.

How ’bout the other side of the coin? And, folks, I swear I’m going somewhere with this. How ’bout someone with no lack of aggression who may have lacked McClellan’s superior knowledge? How ’bout Confederate General John Bell Hood? Now there’s a real hooter. He came to Altanta (gee, wanna guess how this turns out?) in 1864 after another General had successfully ground Sherman to a halt. Jefferson Davis was a big fan of Hood, he was, in fact known to sing, “we can feel GOOD…GOOD…GOOD about Hood.”, which everyone thought was Harry at best.

Within 48 hours of his appointment to the command in Atlanta, Hood took the offensive and went right after Sherman. That was on July 20th. You have to love the aggression. On September 1st, Atlanta was evacuated and Hood was a failure. You don’t HAVE to love that.

Fair to say we’ve met this type a million times. Perhaps half the players on PARTY POKER are related to General Hood. As Iggy (Guiness and Poker…again on the left) would say, if you’re not playing against General Hood you’re retarded!

I’m guilty of that style. The misapplication of unbridled aggrssion.

I went out 13th in the last blogger satellite. I felt good about the play up to that point. But here that hand that killed ol’ G-Hood :

I’m on the button with A-Qo. Folds around to me. I raise 3x.

TheFatSherman (www.thefatguy.com is NOT linked but will be soon) is in the SB.

Now I’ve stolen blinds a few times and I saw his moderate re-raise as a pure defense. The BB folds.

I come back over the top of Gen. FAT and assume he’ll fold. He doesn’t. I’m out after losing a race.

At the time, I was roughly T7500 which was in fine shape against the blinds. But I felt some kind of artificial pressure. I saw the rise of the leader’s stacks. I could have waited for a better hand but I didn’t. I am partially Gen. Hood, but there’s much much more.

This next one will seem like good news. I assure you it is not. My biggest weakness is my likeness to General Robert E. Lee, who conveniently we can abbreviate as G-Rob Lee. Let me clear, I’m not a Duke boy, and I’m not a blind loyalist to General Lee. But its fair to say the Southern Commander was a master of both strategy AND aggression. He held a weaker hand against McClellan at Bull Run. Lee sliced him to pieces. But Lee still lost the war.

I had a nice chat with BadBlood (you may have guessed, he’s linked on the left) about my play the last few days. It was this play that spawned my precious post. He’s been where I am. Granted, he’s a FAR superior poker player but he knows my problem from experience. For a very good read on the topic check out his post “What game are you playing?”. Very well written and right on target with the whole G-Lee thing.

It seems that once Lee ran up against his nemesis Grant, the strategy didn’t matter. Grant was famous for brilliance and aggression, just like Lee, but he had something Lee never did. A massive chip stack, and a million General Hoods. (By the way, since I’m pimping today..check out General Al Can’t-Grant on the left. It was rumored that Grant directed the battle of Shiloh in such a drunken state he could hardly stand. The battle still didn’t slow the General’s advance. If anyone could win a battle and drink 52 shots of SoCo..it was Al…err..Grant)

Near the end of the war Grant was still making all the right moves, the right bluffs, the right retreats, the right aggression at all the right times. But if the enemy is far better supplied and far greater in number great strategy is irrelevant. Imagine you’ve won pot after pot and only shown down with winners, a universe of a million Hoods (Party) will eventually suck out. If the enemy is oblivious to your bluffs then the bluffs cannot work. If your enemy doesn’t know you’re representing the flush then you’re wasting your time.

(This caveat, Grant did recognize most of these moves but didn’t care. He knew he had superior forces..etc..etc. but lets stick to the moral shall we?)

The problem is, even the greatest aggressive strategist cannot win unless his opponent recognizes his strength. Weak-Tight McClellan was almost always ahead but Lee had an advantage there. Loose-Agreesive Grant, with unlimited reinforcements HAD to grind him down.

SO HERE’S THE POINT!

I did promise I’d have a point to all this, and if you’ve read this far, congratulations.

I know where I’m going wrong. I can make the moves of General Lee and grind down my opponent. I can spend hours building my bankroll and bank what would be a winning session, just like Lee was ahead for more than 2 years. But just when I reach a real breakthough some putz leads Pickett’s charge. I have a single moment where making the right moves and grinding out the ABCs of success gets BORING. I make a move when I KNOW I’m behind and then I get crushed. My big outing is crippled.

The Exit in the satellite is a case of just that. It happens far too often. I feel like I’ve got the upper hand and I’ll try to get cute. Then, I wipe out a whole session of winning in a single second of hubris and rage.

For that reason, I can’t ever really succeed. I can’t ever break through. And, because its foolish to distinguish one lousy player from another, at least in terms of general success, I am THE WORST POSSIBLE POKER PLAYER.

I will always lose the war.

No matter how much strategy I study, no matter how aggressive or tight, I will have that moment of poor timing, poor planning or poor execution that suck the wind out of my war.

I’m not giving up. But I need to circle the troops and learn to play like I know how. I need to figure out how to play smart without SMART becoming DULL. No wonder the call it GRINDING….winning is hard work.

ONE MORE THING

This is an infinitely greater problem online. For some reason, I don’t turn into an idiot LIVE. I suspect there are just more Hoods and Grants online.

Oh, one more….one more thing, I truly regret that this post makes it sound like I identify with the “lost cause” of the Confederates. Its for literary purposes. I’m retroactivly pulling for the boys in blue.