I always need reading material for the bus ride into work. Reading makes a forty minute trip fly by and without reading material time seems to pass at a snail's pace. When I'm desperate for something to read, I'll re-read a good book and as I dashed out the door this morning I grabbed Check-Raising the Devil, by Mike Matusow with Amy Calistri and Tim Lavalli. I'd enjoyed it thoroughly the first time, so why not?
As the bus pulled away I started reading the forward written by Phil Hellmuth. Below is an excerpt that caught my attention:
...Matusow began playing in no-limit tournaments where he played "his way" and became a force to be reckoned with. In fact, Matusow seemed to be the chip leader in almost every no limit tournament that he entered, by using a super-aggressive strategy. If Mike felt weakness when you played a pot against him, he would raise you, reraise you or move all in on you. A force he was, but as much as the top pros in the world admired the strong work he was putting in, Matusow simply wasn't putting any skins on the wall (no victories!)...he would move all in, in a hopeless situation and give away a couple of huge cornstalks of chips, for no apparent reason.
Damn! Was Hellmuth talking about Matusow or moi? The paragraph above is pretty much a synopsis of my play from March 2010 to January 2011. I'd always chip up early but more often than not, I wouldn't cash. I could amass chips, but not hold onto them. Don't get me wrong, I've won more than a few tourneys in The Seabrook Poker Room, but that wasn't significant in the big scheme of things. Then there was Vegas: when I was there in December I played a total of 4 tourneys. I sucked in one (WPBT) and became the early chip leader in the other 3. Of those three, I split one with one other guy, I was 2 off the bubble and in the last one, I WAS the bubble. Obviously there was/is work to be done here.
In 2011 I made a conscious decision to adjust my game. I made an effort to not risk all or the majority of my chippys on one hand. Aggression would get me chips, but later on in the tourney, it'd get me. I started making mini goals for myself within a tournament. Instead of trying to win the tournament with every hand, I'd he happy if I made my goal of increasing my chips by 20% or 30% every hour or so. It seemed to slow me down enough to not "need" to take every risk but bide my time.
I highly recommend reading the book. Matusow's rise, fall, rise and fall in the poker world is certainly an interesting read. It's easy to see that it's written with honesty so it isn't always pretty. If I continue to play the way Matusow plays, perhaps I like Matusow will win a few bracelets! He started out with a backer though. Any takers?