Pressing Your Action is Key When Things Are Going Well

Jeff Gross made a deep run in the opening event of Season XIV of the WPT in Montreal, and he's pressing for all the poker he can get leading up to the 2015 World Series of Poker. (Photo c/o World Poker Tour)

Jeff Gross made a deep run in the opening event of Season XIV of the WPT in Montreal, and he’s pressing for all the poker he can get leading up to the 2015 World Series of Poker. (Photo c/o World Poker Tour)

In previous articles I have talked about keeping an even keel – how it is important when doing well to keep your head on straight and to keep your composure when things aren’t going well. Being able to simply notice this is a skill in it’s own right. I spoke about a downswing that I encountered for the last three to four months of 2014 and what actions I proactively took to snap out of it, but now I get to talk about the more fun side of the pendulum: when things are going well and it’s time to press.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “never walk away from a heater,” which makes a lot of sense, but oftentimes a heater isn’t just being hot on a gaming table at a given moment. Heaters can be over an extended period of time, and capitalizing on this is imperative. I was fortunate to end 2014 with a bang, and I have carried that momentum on through the first quarter of 2015. As I am writing this, it’s the night before I play the WPT Montreal at the Playground Poker Club (my favorite card room to play in by far). I am in the midst of enjoying a nice run, currently 16/17 on cash game wins in 2015 and 18/19 winning sessions dating back to December of 2014.

I always keep notes of my cash sessions and I’m pretty organized, but this is one of the better runs I can ever remember. The one loss I had, I was in for $100,000 in the $100/$200 NLH and $25/$50/$100 PLO round of each game which I play in weekly, got stuck $40,000 and came back to make a nice run to finish down $5,000 – only to have the game break earlier then normal. I have that never-lose mentality back, and when I play, regardless of if I start poorly or begin to give some back, I have the mindset that I will not be denied, I will book a win, and this is what has been happening.

I have gone out of my way to not only play in the weekly game, but play whenever I can. If I am visiting friends or have some spare time, I am doing everything I can to get into a game, even if it is only for a short period of time. I have my fire back, and I am on a mission to play my very best at all times. I realize that being focused and playing with clear intention is what must be done. Going through the motions won’t cut it, and when I sit at that table, I am dialed in.

That means a few things; I’m off my phone while cards are in the air, waiting to look at my cards until its my turn, taking my time to act, watching the other players intently and having fun while I play, being joyful. These things may seem mundane, but next time you are playing poker try what I have mentioned. Be alert, be present, be a force, and see how your session goes.

I am by no means guaranteeing you will win, but I will guarantee you are giving yourself the best chance to win and you may surprise yourself. I’m not saying don’t check your phone for an entire eight-hour session. That is unrealistic and that’s not what I am getting it. Sure, you can check it as the cards being shuffled or if a guy is in the tank for minutes, but too often players (myself included) will be constantly on the phone disengaged from the game at hand – and you miss lots of small things that can add up to big events in the course of a session.

In tournaments, try putting your phone away for the 90 minutes or two hours until break comes and then turn it on. This, for me, has been a game-changer and something I am committed to. Very rarely is there something so urgent that it would demand your instantaneous attention, and the majority of the time a simple text or email that comes in can lead to a tail spin of distractions and consume your ability to focus on the game at hand.

I am now on the way to visit my family, back to where I grew up in Ann Arbor, MI for Mother’s Day. I am departing Canada after a successful week-long trip in Montreal, where I ended up finishing in 13th out of 370 entrants at the kickoff event of Season XIV of the World Poker Tour at the fantastic Playground Poker Club. I played my absolute best and was laser-focused getting through each hand, each level, each break, each day all the way until Level 2 of Day 4, where I finally grinded into a spot that I took and came up just short.

I had 11 BBs at 12K/24K and had A-9 offsuit in the cutoff seven-handed after two players folded. I almost raised, and then was going to decide if I got any resistance, which, if I had a few more big blinds, I would have based on the players behind me, but I elected to shove for several reasons and ran into J-J and couldn’t improve.

Call it a coincidence, but I just knew I was going to run deep in this one, came in with a plan, and executed. I have had three WPT cashes here at Playground Poker in Montreal, including a third place out of a Canadian-record 1,173 entrants in November 2012. I knew I had been playing a strong brand of poker in the cash games, and I carried it over to the tournaments. I have basically been out of the tournament scene, skipping the WPT Championship in Atlantic City to work on the condo I just bought at Panorama in Las Vegas to be ready in time for the summer, and also skipping Bay 101 to go visit my girlfriend in Brazil.

I made a decision that I was going to focus primarily on cash games other than during the WSOP, which runs from May 27-July 15, where it’s all in one place and I won’t be flying to go to one or two tournaments. I had to make an exception for my favorite place to play poker with the WPT at Playground Poker, where I’m a member of their player’s club, and with Montreal being one of my favorite cities in the world I figured one tune-up before the WSOP starts couldn’t hurt.

I am currently trying to play as much poker as I can, pressing it if you will. I even went and played at the local casino and picked up a little extra money, whereas I normally wouldn’t go play there. I am literally playing any time I can right now, and when you are running well and feeling good you must do the same. Press when hot and take it easy when things aren’t going so well. This seems like common sense, but really think about this – and apply it to your poker regiment.

I wish all of you luck at the tables, and I plan on pressing hard this summer at the WSOP and capturing my first WSOP bracelet in summer of 2015 and I wish you all the same success!

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Jeff Gross

Jeff Gross is widely known as a one of the top cash game players today along with $2 million in tournament earnings. He also makes a living as a P.B.F. (Professional best friend to Antontio Esfandiari and Michael Phelps) and played Division I soccer at the University of South Carolina.
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