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Return to Live Poker (pt. 3: Face Equity)

Stoic Poker Dave Face Equity Dollar
Does Stoic Poker Dave Have Face Equity?

After my first two sessions back on the live felt I was down a handful of buyins, but I could tell I was still adjusting to my return. I was just hoping I was going to figure it out before losing the whole roll I had saved up from 2 years of saving from my 10-month job as a teacher at the Public Poker School for Children.

I wish I could say that my mind was too strong to worry about losing the roll, but that would be a huge lie. I was thinking about how much of my roll was lost over two sessions, and how long it took me to make it initially. Not a good thought process for a poker player to have if they are planning on going for it when the situation came up.

I was a bit more relaxed overall when it was time to call my uber and head down to the casino. I didn't have the ambient nervousness or discomfort I had experienced leading up to my first two sessions. This time I was cycling through my mistakes, some bad beats, and thinking about how my roll was looking a lot less invincible than it used to be. Cycle, cycle, cycle.

I did my warm up routine, I threw the Tao on my headphones, and I called my uber. By the time I was at the local casino, I was feeling worried. Not an undefinable worry like before, I was worried I was going to lose again and then be at risk of not being able to play. I was able to breathe some and focus on nothing but my headphones, but then those cycling thoughts would come back.

I had decided to play like Crush Live Poker had taught me during my study sessions. Previously, I kept thinking "Bart would say to 3-bet here, but these guys aren't folding." Now I was going to stick to what I had been trained to do no matter what. If I was going to go broke, I was going to do it using the style that gave me enough confidence to return to the live felt in the first place.

Things started off nicely. I was raising and taking it, I was c-betting flops small in 3/4 bet pots and taking it down, I even made a sick fold because my little brain alert (the one I call my rainman alarm) told me he had just hit a monster hand. He complained and showed his hand and I had been right.

Just this little amount of rungood had made a massive change in my mental state. I was weightlessly battling and taking my EV from overcalling fish. Then I got into my biggest hand of the day.

A wild man, and when I say wild man in the town I am from, I mean a fucking next level lunatic. This guy was conversing with spirits when nothing was going on in the hands. He straddles the cutoff to 15, I look down at AKs on the btn and make it 55, he calls. Flop comes A59r, he checks I bet small he jams for 350 more, I called. Turn K, River 5, he flipped over 52o and scoops the pot. I quietly tapped the table in an attempt at good sportsmanship, but that was not what happened internally.

I couldn't believe it. I wanted to doubt everything I had learned. I wanted to text my poker crusher friends with a bad beat story that only my city could provide me with. I wanted what happened to me to be special or meaningful... It wasn't.

This hand was a breakthrough for me. I finally saw that I hadn't been stupid, I wasn't bad, I wasn't throwing away time and effort down a drain that would never go anywhere. I got a light call, just like I always used to, and I just got unlucky. This one was so silly, I couldn't blame myself. I had found a little peace of mind in a loss for the first time.

The experience of losing that hand threw my brain back about 20 years. It went back to when I was a young hotshot in easy games, and my friends would always complain because I always got paid off.

"You just have it Dave. You have that face equity that makes people want to call you to cool you off, or just never believe you. I would give anything for your face equity."

Those words came from a friend of mine who went on to win some bracelets and live a comfortable life through poker, but they came before all that happened. They were said back when none of them would play me heads up, it happened back when I was an action soul reader who drank way too much at the table. Was it possible that despite all that changing, I still had the face equity I was born with?

I didn't know if it was really still true, or if I was just dealing with an unstable play from an unstable man, but at least my mind went to a positive place with it.

The three positive takeaways from yet another losing session are as follows:

  1. My brain is learning to take coolers as what they are and not punish me for them internally.

  2. I have committed to playing the way I was trained to play and let the wins and losses just happen. If I bust my roll, then I will save up for another one and try again.

  3. I might still have the face equity of a younger, crazier, drunker, looser me, and that is an exciting prospect.

Make sure to join me next time to see if I managed to turn any of those positives into victory, or if I go back to work with Principal Berkey and Guidance Counselor DGAF at the Public Poker School for Children when the Summer is over and save up for another poker summer.


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