December 28, 2009
Whatâ€™s up Degens?
As always, hereâ€™s some music you should consider checking out, particularly if you like East Coast rap.
Raekwon â€“ New Wu (classic Wu beat)
Busta Rhymes, Ghostface, Raekwon â€“ The Heist (beat is ridic. If you donâ€™t find yourself bobbinâ€™ your head to this you should probably get your pulse checked).
Jermaine Dupri â€“ Turn It Out
Jermaine Dupri â€“ Protectors of 1472
Mobb Deep â€“ Quiet Storm
First, I came across a couple of unique pieces of information that I think are worth checking out if youâ€™re considering making the transition to PLO, or learning it to supplement your NLHE game. One of the most common questions I get from students or members if whether or not they should make the switch. Well, hereâ€™s a couple of links that should help answer your question.
I also stumbled upon a blog post I saved from a little over a year ago that I felt was inspiring. I saved it because at the time, I was feeling down in the dumps about my progress in poker, and the words gave me the inspiration I needed to keep working hard. Apparently it was written after he binked a Sunday tourney or something. I donâ€™t have the link for the blog, so Iâ€™ll just post the text below.
I just wanted to extend a genuine thank you to those who checked out my video! Overall, the consensus seemed to be quite good and I have enjoyed engaging with you guys in the forums. The videos to come are going to show a lot of cool hands, but also and more importantly it will show you how to stay alive when going card dead. It will also show you what I feel are the best ways to extract maximum value from your big hands when deep in a tournament (this is a vital part of success in MTT poker because it allows you to avoid taking coin flips, or puts you in a better position to take them when they come about!). I look forward to getting some feedback on the next one guys so stay tuned!
On a side note:
I thought Iâ€™d take the opportunity to discuss whatâ€™s been going on with me in poker since I took down such a huge life changing score. Basically, I had been chasing a win in a major tournament for several years, always coming up short on the deep runs that I would have. When I won this tournament, my initial gut reaction was â€œYes!â€ A confirmation of all the hard work and dedication I have put into the game (you get that â€œfist pump Tiger Woods sensationâ€ go through your body because you know you earned it). I did of course finally run very well, holding up in all of my 75-90% situations and winning most key coin flips and sucking out a few crucual times heads-up; but winning uncontested pots to stay alive was what got me there. Anyway, from the standpoint of the money, its obviously nice to have padded my BR by a substantial margin :) But in reality it is not what is important to me, the success of my hard work is really what I care about. The point I am trying to make here is that I want to encourage you guys to chase success, because money in poker, is the bi-product of dedication and hard work. Iâ€™m sure there are many of you out there also trying to chase that big tourney win, I encourage you to go for it! Just know, that an academic approach to the game and fierce competitiveness are the only ways you will get there. If any of you would like to discuss more about what its like to get that big score, how to handle it, or have any life, or poker related questions feel free to comment on my blog, Iâ€™d be happy to discuss with those who are interested.
Take care guys,
And once again thanks a lot for checking out my videos.
Iâ€™ll try to get IRL stuff out of the way, even though the bulk of the post will be consumed by poker stuffâ€¦
Our family does Christmas a little differently than everyone else. My nephew lives with his Mom in Vail, and because of this he spends Christmas eve/day with her, so we always do presents/festivities a few days before the actual Christmas day so we can all spend it together. Itâ€™s cool how Christmas changes as you get older. Now I mostly look forward to getting wasted off wine and whiskey with my brothers, but when I was a kid, Christmas was seriously like the super bowl for me; it was my time to shine baby! Seriously, think for a second how sweet it is to be a kid on Christmas. Everyone gets all amped up to give you a bunch of stuff youâ€™ve waited the whole year to get, and they record it like itâ€™s the last time itâ€™ll ever happen. Itâ€™s so sick!
So since we did all the Christmas stuff first, my parents headed up to their ranch for Christmas Eve/Day, so it was the first year Iâ€™ve ever spent Christmas alone. Most people would describe as being extremely extroverted, but I definitely like to chill by myself and get some work done as well. I have to admit though, knowing that the rest of the world is partying, opening gifts, and chilling with their family is sort of bummed me out a little. Sure I couldâ€™ve hung out with some friends and their families, but somehow it just wouldnâ€™t feel the same, and for whatever reason (as stupid and unfounded as it sounds), I donâ€™t like being intrusive on other people family time.
Overall though it ended up being a blessing poker-wise. Iâ€™ve written in previous entries about how my biggest leak is in the â€œbottom endâ€ of my game. The synopsis is basically that I have trouble playing my A game, usually play too long, ignore my stop loss, and basically destroy my winrate by failing to adhere to all the necessary â€œouter gameâ€ stuff you need to be a professional at this game. Last week, I was fortunate enough to hit a small downswing (11biâ€™s), and I couldnâ€™t be happier about it to be honest. Sometimes a downswing gives you the motivation you need to evaluate your game as objectively as possible, figure out why youâ€™re losing, and what kind of leaks you need to plug.
This forced me into the realization that Iâ€™ve been ignoring an extremely useful and important piece of advice that I always give to my students; donâ€™t focus on being a winner, focus on being a learner. When I initially started playing PLO, my determination was incredible. I watched four videos a day, and took really great notes and went over them repeatedly. Iâ€™d keep them in my backpack and memorize them when I was in class. Before every session, Iâ€™d re-read them, and then after my sessions Iâ€™d go over them again and see what kid of â€œrulesâ€ Iâ€™d broken during the session that might give me clues as to why I lost money. Since I didnâ€™t have a coach or any friends who played PLO, the notes were basically the only reference I had to guide my learning process and validate/invalidate my lines at the tables. Iâ€™d guess my study/play ratio was probably 2 or 3 to 1 in the beginning.
Once I felt I was â€œgood enoughâ€ to beat levels up to 400PLO, I became complacent, and took for granted all of the hours of work away from the table it took for me to get to that point so quickly. During the last ten days or so, I feel like Iâ€™ve been able to pinpoint several reasons for why Iâ€™ve struggled to play my A game, and why my learning has plateaued over the past month or so. And in the spirit of New Years Resolutions and actively seeking new directions in life, Iâ€™ve outlined how Iâ€™m going to improve my game over the next few months so I can finally get closer to getting what I want out of poker.
When I first started playing PLO50, I was OBSESSED with playing correctly and taking the right lines. I literally didnâ€™t care about the money. I only cared if what I did was going to win or lose me money in the long run, and why. If I made a bad call or a bad bluff shove, Iâ€™d literally lose sleep over thinking about whether my play was profitable or not in the long run. Iâ€™ve noticed that something happens when you finally move up in stakes, and the money you win or lose can actually change your life for the better or worse; you begin looking at the bottom line, and you start caring about being a winner instead of a learner. Once you feel youâ€™re good enough to beat the regs at a particular stake, you sit down and expect to win whenever youâ€™re playing. After all, why waste time getting better when that time could be spent making money at the tables? You reason with yourself that the time you spend watching videos or posting on forums is costing you tons of EV, because everyone is sooo terrible blah blah blah. But once you hit a bad stretch, the feeling of unsureness creeps in, and you start to question your abilities and the accuracy of your judgment. Even if youâ€™re not absorbing information thatâ€™s going to double your win rate or drastically improve your game (at least consciously), devoting some time away from the table to studying will give you the confidence and security of knowing that youâ€™ve paid your dues, and help you feel comfortable with any outcome from your session. After all, confidence (no matter how you attain it), is paramount to success in poker. Some people have it naturally (damn those freaks!!), but people like me need the assurance of knowing they have put more hours than their opponents to feel confident theyâ€™re going to crush.
Anyway, the point here is that going on a downswing made me realize that I was uncomfortable in a lot of different spots, which is the worst feeling in the world for a poker player. I was looking at my goals for last year, and the first one on the list was â€œI want to get good enough to the point where I donâ€™t want to find myself in a spot where Iâ€™m uncomfortable or donâ€™t know what to doâ€. Some people have told me they donâ€™t watch videos because they donâ€™t learn anything, or they become bored. I understand that videos arenâ€™t for everyone, but one thing I will say is that when Iâ€™m in a good routine of watching videos, my thought process seems to improve a ton. For example, when youâ€™re watching Vanessa, DJ, or anyone who gives explicit reasoning for why theyâ€™re taking certain lines, it will naturally encourage you to do the same thing during your sessions as well. In Baseball, players take â€œdry hacksâ€, which is basically a visualization exercise where youâ€™re supposed to pretend like youâ€™re taking perfect swings without someone pitching to you. Watching videos gives you the same benefit if you take the right approach. Asking yourself how you would play a hand or simply observing someone sessioning allows you to view hands at no cost. One of the greatest benefits Iâ€™ve gotten from coaching is being given the opportunity to constantly analyze hands and deconstruct opponents ranges, and those of my students, all the while getting paid for it. Itâ€™s like getting paid to practice. Pretty awesome!
Anyway, the last week has been spent watching videos Iâ€™ve either been too lazy to watch, or re-watching old videos that I havenâ€™t seen in awhile. Since Iâ€™ve improved a lot in the last year, Iâ€™m able to take away new pieces of information that I couldnâ€™t the first time I viewed them. Iâ€™ve also had the opportunity to play one of my best students deep stacked HU for practice as well, and I can already tell itâ€™s going to improve my game a lot. Iâ€™ve mentioned before in videos on how the quickest way to improve your game is to play someone good HU. Thereâ€™s several reasons for this. First, thereâ€™s a reason why the best players in the world are HU specialists. In HU, you canâ€™t just isolate the fish and avoid the good players, you have to either adjust or go bust. Against a good player, youâ€™ll find yourself in many close spots, and youâ€™ll also have to focus on finding and exploiting their weaknesses if you want to have any chance of winning. After playing someone good HU for awhile, going back to 6M will seem like a breezeâ€¦ I promise!
Iâ€™m fortunate enough to have a couple of friends/students to play against for practice. One of them is a former Norwegian student of mine, and Iâ€™d like to share a couple of facts about him because itâ€™s a very cool story. Heâ€™s the quintessential â€œlearnerâ€, and heâ€™s had a ton of success moving up in stakes by playing almost solely HU PLO. When I first began coaching him in June, he was playing 25PLO 6M, but eventually (like most northern Europeans) got into playing HU, and his game really took off. He has since been able to move up to 200PLO HU, and will probably continue to crush because heâ€™s smart, and has a really good work ethic. He records all of his sessions, takes notes on videos, and is truly a student of the game. Itâ€™s cool to see someone move up who deserves it, and him and I have already learned a lot and gotten better just from playing super deep HU PLO matches. Itâ€™s good because heâ€™s more experienced with HU than I am, and I also know he wonâ€™t quit me. One of the reasons I stopped playing HU was because the hit-n-running was getting really excessive, and was tilting me bad enough to the point where it was hurting my 6M game as well. After our sessions, we go over the hands together and talk about optimal lines we could take against each other (depending on meta, player types etc.), and then also analyze what lines we would take against different opponents as well. I did the same thing with my old NLHE coach, and it helped me immensely. I would two table him for an hour or so, and then afterwards heâ€™d tell me why he destroyed me, and how I can adjust to counter him. I recommend this to anyone who has a friend whoâ€™s willing to commit to it.
So like I said, the last week has been spent focusing on learning and getting myself on a disciplined schedule heading into 2010. I decided to drop down in stakes for a couple of weeks and focus on playing my A game, taking the right lines, and gaining my confidence back. Iâ€™ll probably continue to do this, and play HU against Marius or anyone else who wants to for awhile until I an convince myself that Iâ€™ve reverted back to being a learner and not a winner. One of my favorite quotes is â€œtake care of the process, and the results will take care of themselvesâ€. If youâ€™re game is improving, then winning money will happen naturally.
DJ Sensei is in Boulder for the next few days, so Iâ€™m going to meet up with him before I head back to Vegas on the fifth. For NYE Iâ€™m going to a pretty big party in Denver, so Iâ€™m super stoked on that. Other than that, life is good and Iâ€™m looking forward to 2010! Iâ€™ll probably do the goals for next year etc., next post, but for now Iâ€™m going to watch some videos and do a coaching session later on. I hope everyone is running well!
Oh ya, and hereâ€™s a quote from Tiger Woods about practice that I feel has some definite applicability to poker. Enjoy!
â€œI refuse to let anyone outwork me. Thatâ€™s the reason I log so much time on the practice range. Besides, hard work is the only way to maintain a competitive edge, and I enjoy the process. The key, though, is to practice with a purpose.
My philosophy has always been to identify the weakest part of my game and to focus on turning it into a strength. That approach will work for you, too. Make an honest assessment of your game, and determine where youâ€™re losing most of your strokes. Whether itâ€™s the driver, irons, wedges or putter, simplify your instruction to get better. Find a professional to help you identify your flaw and provide the correct instruction to fix it. Then tailor your practice sessions so that most of your time is spent on improving that part of your game. Thatâ€™s the fastest way to get results"