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Views: 678
Date Posted: Aug. 30, 3:47pm, 0 Comments


"Reading has been the fuel of my motivation... When I can hook up old information with new information, the combination of the two creates perspectives that could never have been achieved otherwise. New information makes new and fresh ideas possible." - Zig Ziglar.
I believe we can learn from all the people we meet.  And the more great people I meet, the more I'll learn about being great myself.  
    However, with the exception of my amazing spouse, greatness is a rare commodity in my neighborhood.  So, I turn to books. 
    Despite the recent deluge of instructional poker tomes in the marketplace, many players believe you can't really learn to play well from books.  Others suggest the information in the literature is outdated by the time you finish reading it.  But most of those books are about the strategy, those books are about the cards.  I am convinced I can become a better poker player by reading non-poker books.
    Books like Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment  by George Leonard.  Leonard is a pioneer in the study of human potential.  He has devoted his life to discovering what traits can make us great.  Leonard has discerned five simple elements which can lead each of us to greatness.
 1. Surrender to your passion.  Once upon a time, someone espoused a philosophy of "do what you love, the money will follow."  Not always true perhaps.  Not always wrong either.
    The key doubtlessly is the commercial value of your passion.  I love to drink; after decades of practice, I have yet to find somebody willing to pay me to consume alcoholic beverages.  But I am not giving up..I continue the search.   
    The passion comes from your willingness to work to succeed. Your refusal to quit.  Your determination to succeed.  Your refusal to abandon your quest.  That's passion.
2. Practice, practice, practice.  According to Mr. Leonard, practice will make you good at anything you do.  Remember, please, the practice should be good practice, practicing the correct behavior.  And you must never stop practicing.
    And any time you play, you are practicing.  So, play your A game all the time.
3. Get a guide.  See point two above.  If you are practicing wrong, you will get very good at being wrong.  How many times have you heard a successful player talking about how he lost time after time when he was starting out??  He was practicing wrong. 
    Find a teacher and surrender yourself to his or her experience.  You can always do what you want to do, but you need to listen to others to advance.
4. Visualize the outcome.  You can literally choose success or you can choose failure.  You can tell me I am full of crap or I know what I am talking about.  Fine.  You visualize your outcome.  Let me put it this way.  When you are heads up for your tournament life, don't stare at your monitor and say repeatedly, "no 7, no 7, no 7," when a 7 is the only card which can send you to the rail.  You need to talk about the outcome you want to see, not the outcome you don't.
    "The idea," Leonard writes, "is to have this mesh between your consciousness - your visualization - and the so-called material world."
5. Play the edge.  You have an advantage.  Work your advantage.  Push your advantage.  Abuse your advantage.  Think about what the great players do.  Assassinato, Annette_15, Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey...they all push their advantage.
    We can all read Harrington on Hold'emWe can all join PokerXFactor or Cardrunners.  We can all participate in poker forums.  But, if we all do all of that, how do all of us get ahead???
    We must, each of us - if we intend to get ahead of the curve -  do something different. 
    Searching for excellence - or mastery - separate from poker might be the ultimate route to becoming a winning poker player.
    By becoming a better man or a better woman, you will become a better player.
   There may be more than one road to greatness.  But  you only need to find a map which works for you.  Consider the map offered by Leonard, a non-poker player.
    Do what you love. 
    Work hard.  Find a teacher. 
    Go for the throat with the upper hand.
    Imagine victory.
Views: 833
Date Posted: Aug. 25, 1:55pm, 0 Comments

My wife made me clean up my office.  The papers were piled high. 
Had to read each scrap just to make sure I wasn't throwing out something important. 
You tell me....
    DON'T TREAT THE GAME LIKE A GAME.  If you look harder, you'll see better.  To read other people's minds, start by reading your own.
    "The question is not what you look at, but what you see." - Thoreau. 
    "We miss more by not seeing than by not knowing." - William Osler.
    In PLO, sometimes it may be correct to fold the nut straight on the flop. The big pots in PLO tend to center around straight draws.
    "Hold'em is a situational game.  The key skill is survival.  If you hang around long enough, you give good things a chance to find you." - Avery Cardoza
    So many of us, we lead lives inferior to ourselves.  Why do we do that?  Women want me: men want to be me.  Work like you can control the outcome of events.
    "You can make money with a tight, conservative style, but you are not going to maximize your earnings." - rizen.  When you get the goods, bet the goods.
    They are going to be consistent in the mistakes they make.  If you can beat the 10-cent game, you can beat the 25-cent game.  Never bluff at microlimits.  If the pot is big, don't slowplay.  Take your draws for free at microlevels.  Competition at pot limit hold'em may be weaker.
    "KQ is just a death hand in no-limit.  It's almost unplayable.  I would never call a raise with KQ.  It's the single biggest trouble hand." - Phil Gordon
    At micro-levels, play tight pre-flop.  In the small blind, play hands you can re-raise with.  In the big blind, don't call raises.  Downgrade suited connectors; upgrade small pairs.  Do not play tiny sets strongly.  Chase a set with middle pairs, i.e., 55+.
    "If you don't crash, you probably aren't trying hard enough." - Tour de France.
    Lowlimit cash on Full Tilt is no place to earn a living.  Cake is probably loosest cash game site at moment.  Re game selection, look for biggest pots.  Look for more than 65 hands per hour.  Find the weak players.  Much harder than it used to be.
    How come we never see Eskimo Clark, James Sousa or Thunder Keller on TV, except for ESPN Classic?
    "Hard work, laser focus and commitment is what makes people successful in life." - JohnnyBax.
    Re PLO.  Notes & reads more important than NLH.  Not really a bluffing game; more a semi-bluffing game.  Don't play trash out of position.  Rarely more than a 2-1 dog.
    "When the gun sounds, the athlete must be an unthinking animal." - George Sheehan.
    Thinking is at least as much play as it is work.
    6-max is a game of counter-punching against open raisers.  You want to be known as somebody who is raising on the button, especially with an Ace.  Take your time, especially calling bets on the river.  sheets is 4-betting 77, 'cause ppl are getting too aggressive these days with 44, 55 & 66.
    "Put yourself in situations where favorable consequences are much larger than unfavorable consequences." - N.N. Taleb.
    Big winning players efficiently steal the dead money.  Do not always fear big hands.  I'll raise from anywhere with a pocket pair.
    "Pick your spots." - Jesus Ferguson.
    With 11 big blinds and a pair, a shove is mandatory.  Don't limp in small blind with weak hands.  Fold AQ in middle position vs. an Under The Gun raise.  Punish the bubble.
    Dream table:  Patrik Antonius.  Gus Hansen.  Daniel Negraneau.  John Gale.  Doyle Brunson.  Ted Forrest.  Phil Ivey.  Gabe Kaplan.  Greg Raymer.  And the spirit of Chip Reese. 
    "Always play your hand from pre-flop on to gain information." - Chad Batista.
    Stay out of the way of small stacks.  In cash games, position is king.  If you play Ace-rag consistently, you'll go broke.  If you get good at 1$/2$ cash games, you can make $20 an hour per table.  In cash games, you want aggressive players on the right and passive players on your left.  A lot of players can't call with suited connectors OOP.   
    A lot more unconventional plays in cash games vis a vis MTTs.  In an SNG your calling requirements are tighter than in an MTT.  As long as you're not shortstacked, there's no point to speculate early. 
    Good players usually flat call with pocket pairs.
    "To put a player on a hand, I usually ask myself, what kind of hands would I have to make that play from that position?" - Lee Childs.
    Not every opponent is a bad player.  Some people are bad, some people are just gambling.  Don't risk all your chips.  Watch your kickers, especially when calling big.
    When you sit down at a table, buy in for 30xBigBlind.  If you lose your stake, call it a session.
    RULES OF ENGAGEMENT.  Micro-stakes cash games.  Position is king.  Start off tight.  Don't call big bets.  Emphasize pairs over suited connectors.  Reduce the number of limpers pre-flop.  A better kicker helps.
    "If your opponents see that you are confident, they are going to be less willing to make moves on you, and less willing to steal your blinds." - Gavin Smith.
    The hungry wolf hunts best.  What you give, you keep; what you keep, you lose.  Age & aging are not the same thing.  Set the bar high.  Sometimes it's easier to accomplish the impossible than the merely improbable.... Those who believe they can and those who believe they can't are both right.
    "Err on the side of aggression." - sheets.  Rarely do you want to make a bet that is less than half of the pot. "The players who are willing to go all-in on a draw are the players who will win the tournament.  They are playing to win.  Tight players don't have a chance." - John Phan.
    In razz, you are much farther behind when you are behind and much farther ahead when you are ahead than in hold'em.  You are way behind when you start behind.  Find one guy who is bad at the razz table, you can make money.  Small mistakes in razz really add up.
    When you focus on your goals, you regain a sense of control over your life, your self-esteem increases, and you sense what happens around you doesn't have to affect what is within you.
    In low level SNGs, consider playing a few more hands early when the poorer players are still in with chips.
    There is no difference between money you don't lose and money you win.  The more you check, the more you lose when you win.
    "If you don't like change, you are going to like irrelevence even less." - Gen. Eric Shinseki.
    The long run is now.   If you're not steadily getting better, you are steadily getting worse.   Don't beat your head against a wall that has a door in it.
    With one thought, drive away ten thousand thoughts.- Chinese proverb.   
    Frustration with the staus quo is inevitably a catalyst for change.  Too many people stand by ready to carry the stool when the piano needs to be moved.
   "Bladder control is an issue....and I have mastered it." - Phil Hellmuth.  Sure, it's his ego which is running amuck.
Views: 905
Date Posted: Aug. 20, 10:59am, 3 Comments
 Greatness consists in trying to be great.  There is no other way. - Albert Camus

    Research suggests a lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. British researchers Michael J. Howe, Jane W. Davidson and John A. Sluboda concluded, "The evidence we have surveyed ... does not support the [notion that] excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts."
    The secret to greatness? Demanding, even painful, practice and hard work.  And what practice can be more demanding than losing day after day, bad beats day after day, the ugly side of variance day after day.  And, in my case, the bone-headed play.  Talk about painful.
    By the way, a loss is just a failed experiment which often serves as a rich source of information. Since most poker players lose frequently, we need to learn from the negative.
"The difference between greatness and mediocrity," said Nelson Boswell, "is often how an individual views a mistake."
    Nobody is great without work.
    There's no evidence of high-level performance without experience or practice. Even the most accomplished people need approximately ten years of hard work before becoming world-class, a pattern known as the ten-year rule. The ten-year rule represents a very rough estimate; most researchers regard ten years as a minimum, not an average.  Yet many people work hard for many years without approaching greatness.  Many without even getting much better. 
    I have six more years to go. 

    Evidence is evident across a wide range of fields. A study of 20-year-old violinists by Ericsson et al. found the most proficient group averaged 10,000 hours of deliberate practice over their lives; the next-best averaged 7,500 hours; and the next, 5,000. Call this The Ten Thousand Hour Rule. More deliberate practice equals better performance. A huge amount of practice equals great performance.


   The best people in any field are those who devote the most hours to what the researchers call "deliberate practice." Deliberate practice is explicitly intended to improve performance.  It's reaching for objectives just beyond one's level of competence.  Deliberate practice provides feedback on results and involves high levels of repetition.  For example: Simply shooting pool for hours is not deliberate practice, which is why most pool players don't get much better. Playing the same combination into the side pocket 200 times with a goal of sinking the two-ball off the eight-ball 95% of the time is deliberate practice.  Continually observing results and making the appropriate and necessary adjustments, and doing that for hours every day - that's deliberate practice.

     And recording those results - assiduously and scrupulously - is imperative.  If you fail to keep complete and accurate records, you are only cheating yourself and slowing any honest attempt to become as good as you can be.

    Consistency is crucial. As professor K. Anders Ericsson of Florida State University notes, "Elite performers in many diverse domains have been found to practice, on the average, roughly the same amount every day, including weekends." How much are you practicing every day?  Not playing, practicing.  Studying how to play, examining what to play when.  Working....


    Legendary violinist Vladimir Horowitz supposedly said, "If I don't practice for a day, I know it. If I don't practice for two days, my wife knows it. If I don't practice for three days, the world knows it."

    To paraphrase - just a little - Allen Iverson: "We're in here talkin' about practice.  Not talkin' about the game.  We're talkin' 'bout practice.  We're not even talkin' about the actual game.  We're talkin' 'bout practice.  I know it's important.  I do.  I honestly do. Practice. Not a game.  Not a game.  Not a game.  We're talkin' 'bout practice.  Not a game.  What are we talkin' about?  Practice???  We're ain't talkin' about an actual game.  When it matters.  We're talkin' 'bout practice."


   Speaking of basketball, if talent was all that was needed for success, Michael Jordan wouldn't have been cut from his high school basketball team.  Working harder than anybody else in the game is what made him the greatest.  And you can be like Mike, too, if you work just as hard.

    For most of us, work is already hard enough. Any extra steps needed are already almost too steep to climb. Such is life. If greatness was easy, it wouldn't be rare. 

   Professor Ericsson notes, "Some international chess masters have IQs in the 90s." The more research that is conducted done, the more solid the deliberate-practice model becomes.

   Something to keep in mind.  Those who naturally excel at activities are far more likely to devote ten years of deliberate practice to them than those who are lousy.

   Most of us never acquire the dedication necessary to achieve greatness, even in areas where we might have natural talent. Hard work - sustained hard work performed daily - is wearing.  Individuals who can sustain a focused energy over a long, long period are those most likely to achieve greatness. 

    The key point is this: you are not limited by some magical gift.  Greatness isn't reserved for a few mystical lucky others.  Greatness can be yours. 


    True, poker can be difficult to practice.  Poker requires making judgments and decisions with imperfect information in an uncertain environment, interacting with opponents who are attempting to deceive you. 

    When you play poker, play as if you are deliberately practicing. Play with a purpose. Instead of merely trying to make the right play, you must aim to figure out all the plays and make the best one. You aren't just playing the game, remember, you're explicitly trying to get better at it in the long run. When you play like this, research suggests you will process information better and you will retain it longer.  As you play more and more this way, this mindset will automatically become part of your game.

    Then there are the poker gods.  Perhaps we can practice - work hard enough -  so we don't suffer so much at their hands.... Wouldn't that be great??


You can make yourself into any number of things, and you can even make yourself great. - Geoffrey Colvin


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