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Poker Stories: The Grind Sharpens the Axe

The day-to-day life of a poker player, especially a professional or regular grinder, isn’t just big splashy hands, coolers, and sick all-in pots. A lot of time it's winning (and losing) little pots, chopping pots, and just keeping on keeping on.

That’s one of the great parts of following a poker Vlogger like PokerFaceAsh. In a recent video titled When things go from bad to worse, trying to get unstuck in a casino cash game, we get an inside look at what it really takes to be a poker grinder and how mastering the mental game through self-discipline is just as important as ranges and reads.

Photo: NLOP

Another Day at the Office

It was a day without huge pots. It was a day punctuated by a hero calling in the wrong spot, by opponents finding the fold button when the hero holds the nuts, and by chopping a pot when holding KK because—get this---she sees two kings in her opponents’ hand at showdown.

Sometimes, nothing seems to go right, and it happens in the most unremarkable of ways. Especially with the glitzy glamor of the Vegas casino, we too often fall into the trap of thinking that poker is defined only by action and thrill. We block out the mundane hours that fill the space between those breakout moments.

And, the truth is, that those are some of the hardest times to make it through. It’s handling those moments that truly separates the professional from the recreational player; overcoming boredom and fatigue, coming off tilt to keep a cool head and an even keel, being able to make the right play and fold-out hand after hand when you’re card dead: these are the traits that define the professional.

At a certain point, even the most elegant casino card room can become just another office.

Taking a Breather

Sometimes, you just have to walk away. That’s exactly what Ash decided to do after grinding through hours of mediocre hands only to split the pot with the opposing kings. She decided to head out to the car for a breather, and while she was there she gave some insight on how to stay mentally strong during these trying times.

“Poker is such a mental struggle sometimes because you have to be in tune with your emotions, and you have to fight your emotions,” she explained. “It’s easy to get frustrated, feel like the world’s against you, and you can’t win a hand, and everything’s going wrong. While that’s the case sometimes, it’s really important to keep your mind right, acknowledge that you are feeling frustrated, and do what you need to do to reset.”

Ultimately, she concludes that “this is why we have poker bankrolls”--to absorb these bumps like shocks in a car—and she leaves with resolve. “I wanna go back and practice being disciplined,” she concludes as she heads back to the game.

Poker is about more than cards. It’s also about self-control and weathering storms.

And yet, it’s too bad that she goes back to the game and hero calls with pocket queens against a king-high flop. She says “she knows better”, but still calls off two streets of value.


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