March 23, 2011
One week ago today I finished my prop with DJ, we both reached our goal so no money exchanged hands. I played a lot and lost a lot, but... I did learn a few things!
I found out that putting in volume isn't actually that hard, but putting it all in at once is a terrible idea. Taking breaks, small short sessions, staying very relaxed and focused is by far the best way to get in a lot of volume without getting thrown off your A-game. So after that I took a couple days off, enjoyed St. Patty's Day and the weekend afterwards and now that my liver has recovered it's back to the grindstone!
Things have actually turned around some and I'm feeling really stoked about how I'm playing again. As some of you that know me are aware, I have a whip (not a real whip, or a car, but something that I'm whipped by, the way one of your buddies is probably whipped by his girlfriend), and that whip is Starcraft 2.
I find it to be an interesting and mentally challenging game in many ways similar to poker. There are even SC2 training websites and coaching available. Although top top top pros only charge like $50-$150 per hour, they should've spent their time working on their poker game instead! But alas, that's the crux of the matter, why am I playing it instead of working on MY poker game?! A fair question for sure. The heart of the matter lies in the fact that sometimes you just don't want to play, or you pop open the lobby and there's a bunch of shit games running, or whatever. It's mentally challenging in some very similar ways to poker and I like to think of it as mental exercise. There's not exactly a poker equivalent to it that I can think of, maybe like a very serious play money HU SNG with a stranger (wut?). But there are some poker equivalents that I do see in it. Tangent incoming....
There are leagues that you play in based on your skill level similar to the poker stakes: Bronze (play money/micros), Silver (micros/low stakes), Gold (small stakes), Platinum (midstakes), Diamond (high stakes), Master (nosebleeds). It's not quite distributed the same since getting above small stakes in poker takes a tremendous amount of work these days and you could probably get into Diamond with a month or two of really dedicating yourself, but the analogy is forming....
One SC pro that was giving lessons to lower league players postulated that they need not concern themselves with things like figuring out the best strategies, proper army composition, counters (which units are good vs your opponents units), micromanagement of thier units, etc... A lot of what good players do when they play. He instead offered that if you simply macromanage well, do the fundamental things correctly, that you will be good enough to get to platinum or diamond league. To prove his point he created a smurf account (multiaccounting apparently isn't as frowned on in the SC2 community) and started off in bronze making only 1 kind of unit that is usually a defensive unit. This is "a terrible strategy" and will lose to anyone that does the fundamental things correctly. Alas, most of the lower league players did not do those fundamental things correctly and as a result lost and he moved up through the ranks quite quickly. I believe that he ended up getting to gold or platinum before getting bored and moving on.
I think that there is much to be said about his premise as it related to poker though. There are some very simple things that keep people in the micros for far too long. The two most prominent ones that I can think of are Value betting and not paying off. Now obviously, it's not that simple in poker, you need to learn how to think about ranges and you need to learn how to handread, but people seem far too concerned about "being balanced", making moves postflop, making sick bluffs, making hero calls, sick river check raises, all these things that are honestly 100% not needed to beat the micros or even low limits. Yes, if KRANTZ or durrrr or whoever good sat down at 10nl, if they wanted to they could absolutely destroy it using all of the tools in their toolbox, but they honestly would have to. They would make most of their money by value betting better than the 10nl players and by not paying off light.
There is an absurd amount of info that you need to take in in order to be good at this game. You're constantly dealing with tons of "working parts" as it were; bets, calls, folds, checks, raises, check raises, donks, floats, board textures, hand ranges, equities, scare cards, pot odds. All of these are important, but it's easy to get lost trying to figure out what is going to be the most +ev decision. I think that working hard at value betting and working hard at not paying off light will propel you out of the micros and to the level where you can start to worry about some of those more complicated things like playing back at people a lot, 3betting light, 4betting light, and check raising the river.
Not the most concise explanation, but I'm working on ironing a few things out that I think will help me better get my point across.
Good luck all,