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Getting Serious About Poker: Increasing Skills

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Getting Serious About Poker: Increasing Skills by WiltOnTilt

How can you get better at poker? What should you be focusing on? How important is GTO? When (if ever) should I get a coach? WiltOnTilt talks about how to go about increasing your poker skills!

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WiltOnTilt's Haj School 2.0! Are you looking to improve your poker game but not seeing results? Getting Serious About Poker is designed to help answer all the other questions one has when looking to improve their game. How much should I study? What should I be focusing on? Should I get a coach? How can I overcome roadblocks? These are all questions that cross a poker player's path, and Wilt is here with the answers!

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study skills increase skill poker studying improving game getting serious about poker

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dddogkillah

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Andyaaakk

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donkasaurus

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What were some of the most significant mental game challenges you had during your poker development and how did you overcome them?

Posted over 2 years ago

donkasaurus

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Time Link to 00:42:42

You commented a bit on the things you do to qualify someone as a student, I was wondering if you could go more in detail about all the things you look for before giving someone private one-on-one coaching.

Do most of the students have specific areas of their game (or concepts) they want help with or do most of them expect you to take the lead and offer a structured curriculum?

What things would disqualify a student from coaching?

Posted over 2 years ago

WiltOnTilt

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What were some of the most significant mental game challenges you had during your poker development and how did you overcome them?



I broke a few mice and one keyboard Grin

Seriously though the hardest thing for me during a downswing is worrying that I have lost my edge somehow. If you look back at all of the people who have come and gone from poker (granted, for a variety of reasons) it is hard to stay competitive year in and year out. It takes a lot of work and always gets harder...so throughout the years as I went through some downswings, those negative thoughts would creep into my mind. I always detested those who god-moded their way to the top, talked about how great they were, and then inevitably got a dose of reality after a while. I never wanted to be that guy, and that was a motivator for me. It takes a lot of mental strength to be able to objectively identify when you are running bad or well as well as playing bad or well. Getting to that point where you can be objective is a good mental game win.

Overcoming them was a function of several things: examining areas of my game where I could be leaking, trying to focus on how trends/thought process shifts, talking to some students/poker friends who I respect, clearly identifying areas where my opponents were leaking, running better, and probably other things I'm not even aware of. Those things all lead to higher confidence and for many (myself included) I play my best when my confidence is high.

Posted over 2 years ago

WiltOnTilt

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You commented a bit on the things you do to qualify someone as a student, I was wondering if you could go more in detail about all the things you look for before giving someone private one-on-one coaching.

Do most of the students have specific areas of their game (or concepts) they want help with or do most of them expect you to take the lead and offer a structured curriculum?

What things would disqualify a student from coaching?



Warning: rant incoming

I made a bad mistake once taking on a student who wasn't ready. The guy was wealthy, was used to things coming easy for him, and was used to throwing money at a problem and wanted to hire me. He was just too green. He didn't have a foundation of knowledge that would allow him to have any meaningful poker discussion. It wasn't just me handing him starting hand charts, it was very basic concepts like understanding the relationship between pot odds, bet size risk reward, implied odds, etc. He had a more artistic mind and felt he could sort of skip all of those concepts and just look at poker in some abstract/undefined way and, in my experience, for online poker it just doesn't work that way. Maybe you can cheat your way to success in a live game through other sorts of non-strategic skills, but online it is difficult to do that.

The guy wanted to start at mid-high stakes because, ya know, i'm a mid-high stakes coach. He couldn't understand why he was getting slaughtered heads up after he would have a coaching session with me. He was more interested in hearing himself talk than listening to me or putting work in away from the table. He refused to start at the small stakes and earn his stripes by working his way up because he felt he deserved to play higher.

I ended up putting in a massive amount of time to help him. I felt awful about it for several reasons: 1) he paid me a lot of money and he wasn't achieving success. 2) My coaching ego was big and I thought I could teach anyone poker despite their limitations. I spent 1.5-2x the time with him in each session as I did with my other students. I recorded every session for him and uploaded them so he could review them. I took notes during our session on stuff I said and uploaded them for him to review. I took some of his videos playing and reviewed them on dc so he could have extra help. Ultimately what did it get me? Nasty and hateful emails after I finally had to cut the cord. I literally did more for this guy than anyone else and I still got massive grief for it. And for what? A few thousand bucks? It was a joke.

I learned a valuable lesson here. Some guys aren't ready to learn and it's not good for either of us if I try to coach them. Additionally, I've always been a player first and a coach second. Playing can be stressful enough without being around people like this guy. I don't need to coach, so I now only coach people that I look forward to talking to.

After this, I decided to only coach guys who were a) willing to put some work in outside of the sessions, b) were more interested in what I had to say than what they had to say and c) if I couldn't see myself sitting down and drinking a beer with a guy, I wouldn't coach him.

Posted over 2 years ago

donkasaurus

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Nice rant haha. I wanted to sort of ask that to gauge whether or not I am on the right track in terms of learning. I'm sure that coaching, like any other business, has its difficulties. Thanks for both of the responses.

Posted over 2 years ago

WiltOnTilt

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Nice rant haha. I wanted to sort of ask that to gauge whether or not I am on the right track in terms of learning. I'm sure that coaching, like any other business, has its difficulties. Thanks for both of the responses.



You are one of the guys who ask the most intelligent questions in my threads. I have no doubt that you would be a good candidate for hiring a coach whenever you decided the time was right.

Posted over 2 years ago

donkasaurus

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You are one of the guys who ask the most intelligent questions in my threads. I have no doubt that you would be a good candidate for hiring a coach whenever you decided the time was right.



Well thank you I appreciate the kind words. I just need to learn how to win at midstakes NLHE first so I can afford it...ha

Posted over 2 years ago

dddogkillah

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Nice series Wot..... But this is a great series and has really inspired me to start putting a little more effort into my off the table work! Smile
I was wondering if you plan on touching on any of the software????

Posted over 2 years ago

WiltOnTilt

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Nice series Wot..... But this is a great series and has really inspired me to start putting a little more effort into my off the table work! Smile
I was wondering if you plan on touching on any of the software????



not in this series but i was contacted by a guy who created a new software program that looks interesting and can compete with CREV. After I spend some time learning it i'll make a video or two on it

Posted over 2 years ago

dddogkillah

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Warning: rant incoming

I made a bad mistake once taking on a student who wasn't ready. The guy was wealthy, was used to things coming easy for him, and was used to throwing money at a problem and wanted to hire me. He was just too green. He didn't have a foundation of knowledge that would allow him to have any m lessonc) if I couldn't see myself sitting down and drinking a beer with a guy, I wouldn't coach him.


Love c Smile

Posted over 2 years ago

dddogkillah

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not in this series but i was contacted by a guy who created a new software program that looks interesting and can compete with CREV. After I spend some time learning it i'll make a video or two on it


Is it thr program you briefly started to talk about???

Posted over 2 years ago

WiltOnTilt

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Is it thr program you briefly started to talk about???



could be, i can't remember

Posted over 2 years ago

which

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WOT-

One thing that might really help someone like donkasaurus is to keep a "rolodex" of potential coaches that have very clear ways of explaining basics for potential students who
1. could spend their training dollars more wisely than hiring race horses to take their first horseback lessons.
2. want to keep a dialogue open with those who are better than they are, but don't have access to that wherever they are (I am in Oklahoma playing, and few there seem to be the online grinder/off table studying types
3. want to try and be efficient in their learning, as opposed to floundering through the basics.

I mean, we all agree that your time is better invested playing than coaching low stakes players. But it would be really cool if you had a few recommendations to guys like Donk knowing that later on, after he becomes a crusher, you could "have a beer with him, and maybe even coach him " Smile

Nice thing about having these rec's handy, you get to make sure that Donk is learning the right things the right way, right from the start! (gotta love that sentence)

which

PS I listen to your podcasts with Chuck, and you seem really humble about your success. Do you think it is any way related to you NOT being in Vegas / Los Angeles? Or maybe the poker friends you have (I am assuming the DC team which also seems to share that trait, among others) keep you grounded?

Posted over 2 years ago

dddogkillah

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Python i think.... Josh brought it up the other day too....

Posted over 2 years ago

donkasaurus

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PS I listen to your podcasts with Chuck, and you seem really humble about your success. Do you think it is any way related to you NOT being in Vegas / Los Angeles? Or maybe the poker friends you have (I am assuming the DC team which also seems to share that trait, among others) keep you grounded?




I am kind of interested in this as well. If you had to name the main things that have made you successful at poker what would they be? If I had to guess I would say that being in a position where you are forced to come up with good answers to important questions in poker has a lot to do with it.

Also, in his "well post" on 2+2, Phil Galfond suggested to get friends who are smart and serious about getting good at this game to increase your chances of success. What advice would you have for someone who hasn't been able to find people like this?

Posted over 2 years ago

WiltOnTilt

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WOT-

One thing that might really help someone like donkasaurus is to keep a "rolodex" of potential coaches that have very clear ways of explaining basics for potential students who
1. could spend their training dollars more wisely than hiring race horses to take their first horseback lessons.
2. want to keep a dialogue open with those who are better than they are, but don't have access to that wherever they are (I am in Oklahoma playing, and few there seem to be the online grinder/off table studying types
3. want to try and be efficient in their learning, as opposed to floundering through the basics.

I mean, we all agree that your time is better invested playing than coaching low stakes players. But it would be really cool if you had a few recommendations to guys like Donk knowing that later on, after he becomes a crusher, you could "have a beer with him, and maybe even coach him " Smile

Nice thing about having these rec's handy, you get to make sure that Donk is learning the right things the right way, right from the start! (gotta love that sentence)

which



Yes I agree. There are a few people I typically recommend when people PM me and ask who they should hire but I would also encourage people to watch a lot of videos by a lot of different instructors to get a feel for how everyone teaches and then keep them in mind for when the time is right.



PS I listen to your podcasts with Chuck, and you seem really humble about your success. Do you think it is any way related to you NOT being in Vegas / Los Angeles? Or maybe the poker friends you have (I am assuming the DC team which also seems to share that trait, among others) keep you grounded?



I don't have too many close poker friends these days. Just a couple long term students that I talk strategy with and then obviously my main man Chuck who is a great friend, regardless of our poker strategy discussions.

As for my attitude about my success...There are a lot of reasons for that but I think it mostly boils down to just wanting to be a good human being more than wanting to stroke my own ego. I just don't see much upside in posting graphs or bragging on the podcast.

Posted over 2 years ago

WiltOnTilt

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I am kind of interested in this as well. If you had to name the main things that have made you successful at poker what would they be? If I had to guess I would say that being in a position where you are forced to come up with good answers to important questions in poker has a lot to do with it.

Also, in his "well post" on 2+2, Phil Galfond suggested to get friends who are smart and serious about getting good at this game to increase your chances of success. What advice would you have for someone who hasn't been able to find people like this?



I think my main things that helped me be successful is being willing to put in more time than most of my peers -- that is time studying but also time playing, especially when the games are good. Most of my friends went out on the weekends or holidays but that's when I focused on grinding a lot of hands. I also benefited greatly from Krantz's coaching back in 2005-2006. He helped me see things in new ways and I would try to ask him tough questions and try to change the variables to see how his answer changed (ie, "what if" scenarios). I went on a huge downswing in 2007 he pushed me to keep working and his confidence in me made a huge impact. I also benefited from starting with poker when the games were much softer than they are today. There was a lot more room for error back then. I also think being extremely competitive was important for me. I started after college, didn't like the jobs I had, and I saw poker as a way out and a way to be my own boss. That was a huge motivator for me.

I don't have a lot of good advice for finding a poker network these days, other than what I did when I started. Back then, I did it through being active on 2+2 and asking other posters I respected for their AIM info (yes, we used aol instant messenger back in the day hahaha). As things would come up, I'd send hands to a few different people to get insight into how they all thought or if someone sent me a hand I wasn't sure of, I'd send it to another person, etc.

I would have to think between the various social networks and forums, you would be able to reproduce something like this if you put in the time to do it. Find people who make posts that resonate with you and PM them and see if they would add you to their instant messenger of choice and try to keep a dialog open. There are also some meet ups in vegas during the WSOP that could help you network.

Posted over 2 years ago

donkasaurus

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Do you have any students who are working on small to midstakes online 6-max NLHE that would like to have someone to discuss hands with or would be interested in starting a study group? If so let me know and I will send them a PM.

Thanks!

Posted over 2 years ago

dddogkillah

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Do you have any students who are working on small to midstakes online 6-max NLHE that would like to have someone to discuss hands with or would be interested in starting a study group? If so let me know and I will send them a PM.

Thanks!


I'd love to study with you Donk!!! Im a little behind you on stakes tho.......

Posted over 2 years ago

donkasaurus

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I'd love to study with you Donk!!! Im a little behind you on stakes tho.......



OK. Do you have an account on skype messanger? If so PM me.

Posted over 2 years ago

dddogkillah

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WiltOnTilt

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Do you have any students who are working on small to midstakes online 6-max NLHE that would like to have someone to discuss hands with or would be interested in starting a study group? If so let me know and I will send them a PM.

Thanks!



I messaged a couple people and told them to PM you if they are looking for a study partner

Posted over 2 years ago

donkasaurus

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I messaged a couple people and told them to PM you if they are looking for a study partner



Thanks man!

Posted over 2 years ago

StedShady

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Time Link to 00:18:15

If you find some time, would you mind listing some of these resources you mention here?

Posted over 2 years ago

acepoint

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At minute 18 you mention some GTO videos by sd49(?!). I can't find him in the list of video authors. Where can I watch these videos?

Posted over 2 years ago

WiltOnTilt

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At minute 18 you mention some GTO videos by sd49(?!). I can't find him in the list of video authors. Where can I watch these videos?



sthief09

Posted over 2 years ago

chrswt

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At minute 18 you mention some GTO videos by sd49(?!). I can't find him in the list of video authors. Where can I watch these videos?



sthief09

Posted over 2 years ago

acepoint

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payador

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Hi Wilt;could u repeat the book and author u mentioned?I couldnt understand during the vídeo.
Thanks

Posted over 2 years ago

WiltOnTilt

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Hi Wilt;could u repeat the book and author u mentioned?I couldnt understand during the vídeo.
Thanks



do you have a timestamp or a topic I was referring to? not sure which book I mentioned in this vid. Maybe it was Wil Tipton's book?

Posted over 2 years ago

payador

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Probably is.I cant remember the time too,but you talked about exploitative and optimal play,and the book deals with this topic.I remember u talking that the book is focused in heads up sng,but the concepts can be used in all forms of nlh.

Posted over 2 years ago

WiltOnTilt

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Probably is.I cant remember the time too,but you talked about exploitative and optimal play,and the book deals with this topic.I remember u talking that the book is focused in heads up sng,but the concepts can be used in all forms of nlh.



Yes, Tipton's books. I think they are very interesting

Posted over 2 years ago

Lagornot

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I'd love to study with you Donk!!! Im a little behind you on stakes tho.......




Did you guys get a study group going? If so i'm interested in joining. I've been playing live low and mid stakes professionally for a couple years now and i just started getting serious about playing on line. I've only played a couple thousand hands so far, with not so good results. I realize that's a very small sample size but i think i could benefit from some DC love.

Posted over 2 years ago

donkasaurus

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Did you guys get a study group going? If so i'm interested in joining. I've been playing live low and mid stakes professionally for a couple years now and i just started getting serious about playing on line. I've only played a couple thousand hands so far, with not so good results. I realize that's a very small sample size but i think i could benefit from some DC love.



yea send me a PM. We are meeting on mondays

Posted over 2 years ago

Lagornot

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yea send me a PM. We are meeting on mondays



Ill set up a Skype account and message you.

Posted over 2 years ago

donkasaurus

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Ill set up a Skype account and message you.



OK

Posted over 2 years ago

Kalupso

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Hi,

I play 7$ and 15$ HU turbo SNGs at pokerstars (the first limits with full time grinders) and feel like I have reached a stage where I need to push myself to increase my skill level. My approach until now has mostly been to play my hand vs villains range (exploitative with large adjustments) and work out solid preflop ranges for all spots at all stack depths with CREV. This has given me a big enough edge to beat the regs and crush recs until now, but when I face regs who has more experience playing this way I feel like I am trying to beat them at their premises. To move up and beat the regs at higher stakes I feel like I have to start taking more of a range vs range or GTO approach, and have started using an equilibrium solver and CREV to figure out balanced ranges and to estimate villains range. Do you think I need to push myself to try to play my range vs their range to improve and try to get a good default strategy to beat tougher player and move up? Any recommendations for how to achieve this? Is there any other skills I should focus on before trying to play balanced?

Which of your heads up videos do you feel are the best for learning how you approach playing new opponents, picking up reads and adjusting?

Also thank you for making great videos! I have learned particularly much from your "Handreading", "The Language of Poker" and "Getting Serious About Poker" series. I hope you will make a new similar series in the future!

Posted over 2 years ago

WiltOnTilt

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Hi,

I play 7$ and 15$ HU turbo SNGs at pokerstars (the first limits with full time grinders) and feel like I have reached a stage where I need to push myself to increase my skill level. My approach until now has mostly been to play my hand vs villains range (exploitative with large adjustments) and work out solid preflop ranges for all spots at all stack depths with CREV. This has given me a big enough edge to beat the regs and crush recs until now, but when I face regs who has more experience playing this way I feel like I am trying to beat them at their premises. To move up and beat the regs at higher stakes I feel like I have to start taking more of a range vs range or GTO approach, and have started using an equilibrium solver and CREV to figure out balanced ranges and to estimate villains range. Do you think I need to push myself to try to play my range vs their range to improve and try to get a good default strategy to beat tougher player and move up? Any recommendations for how to achieve this? Is there any other skills I should focus on before trying to play balanced?

Which of your heads up videos do you feel are the best for learning how you approach playing new opponents, picking up reads and adjusting?

Also thank you for making great videos! I have learned particularly much from your "Handreading", "The Language of Poker" and "Getting Serious About Poker" series. I hope you will make a new similar series in the future!



Hi Kalupso, I don't know much about the HUSNG environment right now but I would be shocked to know that you'd need to be leveraging these tools in order to beat these games. IMO the number one thing at the small games is to just gain experience and get a better understanding of what everyone's range is in as many spots as possible. The more experience you gain the better your estimations will be when you use these tools later. Of course I think studying is great and it should be part of your gameplan, but you also have to build a bankroll and just see a ton of situations first hand.

As you continue to progress, yes I think range vs range thinking becomes very important. Particularly, introspection. Think about the question "What bet size does my range want here" -- this should lead you to thinking about your range composition (polar, linear, strength) and then also your opponent's range composition and how they match up.

I've made fewer HU videos recently because most subscribers want 6max content, but go to the video filter page and search for my HU vids and order by release date. The most recent will be the best. The older stuff might not apply as much.

Posted over 2 years ago

Kalupso

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Thank you for the reply! That is pretty much my approach at the moment, and should be enough to beat the regs up to the 30$ level at pokerstars. It seems like the games get much tougher at 60$ and 100$ level and guys like Olivier "adonis112" Busquet is sitting as low as 200$ and 300$ levels these days pushing other regs even further down in stakes.

Posted over 2 years ago

CitizenSnips

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Hi,

What are your thoughts on the longevity and profit potential of 6-max NLHE? Particularly for US players.

I'm trying to figure out if I should learn 6-max PLO basically from scratch or focus on improving my NL game and get to small/mid stakes.

I was able to beat 50NL and was fairly successful in 100NL on Full Tilt before black friday. I had built a roll up from $40 to over $5000 in about a year and half.

Now I'm on Bovada playing 25NL trying to build a bankroll again and not sure where to focus my efforts in the future.

Thanks for any insight you can provide.

Posted over 1 year ago

Asemu

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