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Views: 1398
Date Posted: Aug. 30, 6:57pm, 0 Comments

Developing a Poker PlanAll August I've been writing a lot of poker articles geared to newer players covering a large range of subjects.  My writing juices have been sapped and my blog hasn't been as regular or inspirational as a result.  Sometimes when I address a newer to poker audience, I feel it isn't as appropriate for here.  This particular subject does, apply to all level of player, in my opinion.

How many of you start with a plan when you play poker?  I don't mean "I want to play some poker and win some money."  When you are developing a plan, you need to consider your plan in three time frames; in terms of your immediate hand, in terms of your session, and in terms of your poker career.

Any established winning poker player has realized that having a plan for a hand you play will always lead to better results than not having a plan.  You want to raise pre-flop to take control.  If you are just calling, you want to do it with position.  What flops will you continue on? What scary flops may you put pressure on the pre-flop raiser? What hands are you representing?  How do you see your opponent reacting to your various moves.  A plan isn't so rigid that you can't adapt during the hand, but you start with a particular strategy in mind and look to execute it.

In any particular session you should also have a plan.  How long do you plan to play for? How many tables will you play? Will you stick to your stop loss if you lose?  What if you win big early? What is your goal for the session?  It may be the same set of goals you usually have, or it might be specific to the time frame or period you have available to play that day.

Equally important is your plan for your poker playing career.  At the lowest levels I rarely see players with a plan.  If they win a little money, they want to immediately withdraw it.  They don't look to have a plan to move up.  They don't follow strict bankroll management guidelines.  They justify all kinds of gambling because they want to have fun and maybe get lucky.

The natural plan for most serious players is to structure your play so you don't ever have to deposit again.  They want to make a certain win rate over a certain number of hands.  They want to win X amount of buyins before they move up to the next higher level.  It's not that you can't reward yourself with a withdrawal when you do well, but not at the expense of jeopardizing your online roll. No matter if you are serious or not, you can still plan a schedule of times to play, whether it's 2 hours a week or 40. 

I was talking to a poker friend today who was raving about the discipline of some CR members he knew.  They take their game very seriously. They meet almost every night to go over hand histories online.  They plan time for study and review in addition to their heavy play schedules.  They support each others passion for the game.  If one player has a particularly good result or bad downswing, they help each other stay on their plan, not getting distracted by the emotional swings that poker tries to take you on.

Even the amateur player can greatly benefit from having a plan.  Know your strengths and weaknesses.  Don't play a game because it's popular or your friends play it, but because you feel competent.  Look to take advantage of the edges available; including chasing bonuses, rakeback, freerolls and other such promotions.  They can be a big part of your poker plan.  The amateur player needs a plan as much as the professional player if they want poker to be profitable and fun.  The demands of time and work may be less, but the need for a structured plan is no different.  If you won't take your game seriously, how can you expect to have your results follow any particular plan?

Views: 1426
Date Posted: Aug. 26, 5:50pm, 1 Comment

When Kimberly Lansing recently interviewed Daniel Negreanu regarding his recent public brouhaha with Annie Duke over his damaging comments, he said his comments had been off the record. He was in a lengthy conversation with an interviewer he knew pretty well, they had finished formal questioning and they were just casually talking about various topics. Regardless of whether you believe him, find his comments offensive or not, the issue that interested me was off the record vs. on the record.

I am obviously not a politician, celebrity, sport figure, or serious public figure at all, so I don't face these issues of pubic vs. private comments in my daily life. But I've always found it a bit odd where people claim certain things on the record, then state the opposite or different feelings soon after, off the record. It creates this uneasy dichotomy. Are the things we say on the record the only things we will claim responsibility for and things off the record we won't? Doesn't it seem strange then that what is said on the record aren't usually our true feelings? They are things often said for the benefit of others. What is the point of being responsible for something we don't really feel?

There is often a tension between reporter and subject about what to air. The reporter wants the most juicy interesting tidbits that sensationalize the subject. They seek controversy knowing it will draw readers. On the other hand, the subject wants to portray a certain image or viewpoint to accomplish some goal. It is rare that both parties are satisfied with the outcome.

Off the recordEarlier this year, Dos Equis, as part of their "The Most Interesting Man in the World" series, introduced a new tag line..."The bulk of your life should be off the record." Granted that these tag lines are meant for amusement and entertainment, but do they mean that the majority of our adult lives we shouldn't be accountable for? Isn't that the point of adulthood, to learn to be responsible for all our actions? Certainly I'm not advocating that all our comments or behaviors should be aired for everyone to see. I've learned that the public is too defensive, insecure and judgmental to handle many of our private behaviors, but should the majority of our lives be hidden? What kind of life is it if you have to hide who you are all the time?

Experience has taught me that it is prudent to hold back our more extreme thoughts and feelings. It is a sad necessity. Being in the the public eye brings a spotlight into your life that more regular folk don't face. But they also don't benefit from all the perks of the celebrity either. There is a cost to being a high profile personality and one of those is not being naive, as Daniel likely was, as to what and to whom you share your true feelings.

Views: 1407
Date Posted: Aug. 20, 1:27pm, 1 Comment

Apparently posting the inspirational Thuy Doan interview presaged my relapse. Twenty painless months since my back surgery are over. There was no particular incident, but I noticed a little something after my Monday morning walk. The next day it had flared into my full blown severe sciatica that I suffered from for two years prior to the surgery.

Severe SciaticaThe timing is both better and worse now. Worse because my surgeon hasn't returned my call in three days and seems to be too busy for me. Worse because I needed to reach two years of no relapse in order to qualify for medical insurance due to the previous surgery. It is better because I'm back to having a regular income again, so I'm not cash broke. It is better because I have the experience to know that I can be fixed and not spend many months searching for alternative methods when surgery is likely the best option.

My concern, besides surgery and the huge cost issues, is for my productivity. I can't sit at my computer chair as before. I have to turn the chair around, be on my knees on the seat, leaning over the back with a massive cushion to relieve the pressure. I have been less able to concentrate or have my usual work stamina. So I did a little research, and while not surprising, chronic pain saps both energy and mental abilities.

Besides causing physical discomfort, affecting your ability to work, sleep and other activities essential to leading a full life, pain can also affect your memory and concentration. Canadian researchers zeroed in on one of the cognitive mechanisms affected by chronic pain. Evidently chronic pain actually disrupts the maintenance of the memory trace required to hold information for processing and retain it for storage in longer-term memory stores.

"Prevalence studies indicate that as much as 44 per cent of the population-in Canada as well as in the U.S. and Europe-experience pain on a regular basis, and that in approximately one-quarter of this group the pain is severe", said Dick. The cost of chronic pain to society is great, and Dick and Rashiq argue that the matter needs to be recognized as a public health priority.

I have been through this before, and I know I can return to being pain free again. How I will get there in my present situation is the challenge. I will persevere regardless.

Views: 941
Date Posted: Aug. 12, 7:23pm, 1 Comment

intense workoutBack in November 2007 I wrote a little blog about intensity.  What I suggested at the time was that a poker player's success was "directly proportional to how intense their learning/play of the game, but that their longevity was a more loosely related inverse to that line.  Walking the fine intersection of those those two lines determine your ability to maintain and prosper through a long poker career."  I used the example of Stu Ungar, who was a brilliant, intense, and hugely successful player who burned out quickly unable to manage his demons.

Today, I was thinking of the question of intensity in poker in relation to muscle workouts.  If you do an intense, anaerobic workout (without sufficient oxygen), your muscles produce waste molecules that impair muscle contraction. You will tire quickly and require significant time to recover.  If you do a more measured aerobic exercise, the pace allows for more oxygen and energy to fuel your metabolism.  You are able to sustain your activity for a longer period.

There is no denying that the World Series of Poker is a workout. In the month since the 6 week long WSOP ended, I have seen more blogs, or actually less blogs because people have been blogging less but more as a percentage of overall blogs detailing the fatigue and hangover effect from that intense period.  The intensity of the series is unsustainable long term.  The temptations of Vegas, including friends and family, along with the 57 event poker series and assorted concurrent Vegas poker options, wear out most players. Afterwards, they drift home in a daze. They need time to recover from that period.  Many players will spend more time inside, doing non poker activity, being sick, or generally not in their usually peak productive selves.

For the vast majority of poker players, the WSOP has all the earmarks of an anaerobic workout.  Players are reluctant to miss out on any of the intensity of the experience, they push themselves to max out the experience.  Thus they inadvertently create physical and mental waste in their lives that impairs future action.  For a lot of players, it takes over a month to fully rest and recover, physically and mentally, from the expenditure before they return to their more natural productive selves.  Only those select few poker players who structure the series as an aerobic activity, pacing themselves both on the number of events they play and the level of entertainment outside of playing are able to maintain their activity without seeing a drop off in productivity.

The ultimate issue of how much intensity should you have in your poker life remains an important one.  Do you want to go full speed or learn to pace yourself.  Only you can decide that for yourself, but align your intensity with your goals and don't be surprised if either decision has a certain cost to itself.  

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Views: 987
Date Posted: Aug. 4, 4:11pm, 1 Comment

I needed a little break from blogging.  I had tried blogging every day for a month, but frankly it's a grind.  Of course, my sense of professionalism kicks in and my break wasn't more than 5 days, but life is all relative. I also noticed that it has been a long time since I had shared any music videos; hence the title - Forever and a day.

I have always identified with music from an emotional level, and less of an intellectual level.  I rarely remember lyrics or really pay close attention to them. So I picked out four very different songs, one randomly, without lyrics or in another language I don't understand.  I'm not sure I would enjoy them more if I understood what they were saying.

Doc Gyneco - Caramel

Pete Heller - Simpler

Habib Koite "Wassiye" (Live)

Random song I found just now - BACK ON - Sands of time

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