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by Ashley Adams

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Player's Blocks

At a recent book signing, a young woman came up to me and asked what she could do about her being stuck as a writer. She is a nurse and was writing about some of her experiences with various medical procedures. She was writing a book about the psychological conflicts and aftermath of abortions. I told her that such a book would appeal to both pro-life and pro-choice readers. About the writer's block problem, I encouraged her to keep writing. I told her to sit down and start writing even if she didn't have a thought to write about. I encouraged her to go full-speed ahead and before she knew it, her block would disappear. I knew where that answer had come from. I was also going full speed ahead in answering a difficult question. This method works for me and I seldom let writer's block have the final say.

It occurred to me that poker players have what could be referred to as "player's blocks." There are many times when, regardless of how good a player you are, the cards and your luck seem to have vanished. The question is, "What do you do to overcome such player's blocks?" I wondered, "Would the same advice that I gave about writer's block be sage here?" So, when my luck and good cards took a holiday, I would put my head down, took my own advice, and played any two hole cards in Texas Hold 'em. I'd do this at least until the flop. It was like just sitting down and writing with no ideas whatsoever. Playing any two cards seemed foolish and instead of breaking the player's block, it could have meant going deeper into bad play and bad luck. Well, it didn't happen like that. It worked best when there was a loose table and no one was raising before the flop. But, the fact that it worked at all was my biggest surprise.

What I discovered was that when I was getting bad cards and having bad luck, I was waiting for good cards and taking little or no risks. Other players were cashing in on my tight play. When I played any two cards it forced me to start playing again. For, in reality, when I was playing too tight I really was seldom in the game. At least when I played garbage hole cards, I could hope for a garbage flop. After all, they came frequently when I'd only play good hole cards.

Now it may sound like I am promoting "No Fold 'em Hold 'em." I'm not. No more than I would have encourage that young nurse to publish the dribble that might come out when she'd just sit down and start writing with no thoughts to write. It was a way to break the pattern and to get into writing again. Eventually, the good thoughts would come back and the block would be broken. The same proved true with breaking a poker player's blocks. Once the pattern was broken and I was in the game again, I could lay down the impossible odds and risk some adventurous hands. It was a way to mix up my play. It was also a way to confuse my opponents who knew how to anticipate my usual moves. It was poker and produced some amazing results. As a writer, I am amazed with the material that's waiting to be discovered before the block. The same is true when handling player's blocks. There are hands that I played that I only would have played in tournament play when the blinds justified looser play.

It's good to break through your blocks whether at the computer or at the poker tables. I never have experienced breaking such blocks by procrastinating and waiting for them to go away. Player's blocks happen to both proponents of tight and loose poker. So, go figure!

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