In poker you so often hear about how confidence and winning streaks are everything. They are apparently the reason people go on major heaters, get huge amounts of confidence in their reads and plays, and why they perform well in multiple tournaments in a row. And by that logic no time is better to be on a heater than heading into WSOP, just like the ones Daniel Negreanu and Jason Mercier have been on for the last month.
For me, this year has been a little different. Without trying to make this into a comprehensive listing of the beats I have taken or the flips I've lost (or all the flips I've won, no one ever seems to talk about those...) there has never been a year where I have been so happy with my general play and where I am at in poker, and also not a year where I have gone deep in as many things consistently just to bust with two or three tables left in the high equity spots. Some people might find it discouraging to keep on getting 13th, 18th and 30th in their bigger tournaments (and I would be lying if I said there weren't times where it frustrates me), but I look at it as a source of motivation to keep on grinding and to constantly try to improve.
When I am winning I often end up taking things for granted and assume that I am playing great (why else would I be winning, no one who plays poorly ever wins, right?....). But when I am losing I always find myself being a lot more critical of my own play, going over my hands a lot more thoroughly and trying to solve them with various poker tools, and asking for second opinions from friends. This year I have already spent a lot more time going over hand histories (both my own but, just as importantly, also tournaments my friends have played) and watching videos than I did in 2012 and I feel like a much stronger player now because of it. For those who don't know, I luckboxed an EPT pretty early on in 2012.
I am not going to try to say that it's better to go into a big series on a downswing than an upswing, but just that the fact of the matter is that if you play tournaments you are going to be spending most of your time on downswings, with the occasional big upswing. Learning how to make the most of those times where you aren't winning by being extra critical of your own play is a great way to both improve and keep your confidence intact.
I am really looking forward to the WSOP this year, I feel as motivated as I ever have, and for the first time I feel like I am really coming in really well prepared for the long summer grind. Good luck everyone, play well and have fun!
Mickey 'mement_mori' Petersen is a member of Team PokerStars Online and just finished 9th in Event #11 of the WSOP 2013 for $30,165. Read his bio by clicking here. WSOP photo courtesy of PokerPhotoArchive.