Thursday, October 15, 2009

Getting to know what you don't know

There have been many times in my life as a poker player where I've sat at the table, seen a few rotations, and thought to myself, "Excellent! I'm EASILY the best player here." I can't even begin to count the number of times that this has happened to me. But being the best player doesn't always lead to success. It takes you 1. playing really well, and 2. taking advantage of the other players not playing well, and 3. picking your spots in doing so.

The last month or so has been an interesting poker ride for me. I've had very few good runs in tournaments for the most part, which has led me to doubt myself as player. This lack of confidence obviously showed itself in my game as I haven't really been able to get anything consistent going. It's been frustrating me to say the least, to the point where I've beat myself up over losing, and thinking that I've been playing well. That might be the hardest part, is that I've THOUGHT that I had been playing well. It's hard to fix something when you don't know what's broken.

So in my step away from the game, something that I figured that I needed to figure out was how to assess what is wrong with my game, and have someone else assist me with that.....a coach.

I sent out a tweet and it was responded to with mainly laughter. I don't know if it was because people assumed that poker coaching was just a joke, or that they thought that I was such an elite player already that I was far beyond stooping to having to be coached (I came back 5 minutes after writing this sentence to finish because I was laughing so hard: for the record). But I did get a response from @Imanoth, which gave me a link to a poker coaching website There, I browsed through the different coaches that they had, and looked for someone that could assist me at the levels that I played at.

At my first thought, I came to the conclusion that it was just too expensive. I was looking at the prices and thinking to myself "why on earth would anyone spend THAT much on a poker coach?" But in my heart of hearts, I knew that what I really needed was to assess a part of my game that had a fatal flaw.....I did not know what I didn't know. And it was the not knowing part that led me to Jennifear.

Jen and I chatted a little bit about my story and whether or not she thought that she could help me, and her assessments immediately perked me up. I thought that maybe, just maybe, she might be able to plug a leak in my game.....just a small tweak here or a little adjustment there, and POOF!!!! Like magic, my game would be fixed.

It doesn't work that way. Poker is not a game that has an easy solution. Its not rocket science by any stretch, but there is a large degree of math that I never even considered until I talked with Jen. In her first assignment, she shot me a basic problem with the question "What hands would it be ok to shove with?" And I was stumped. What I realized at that moment was, there is still a TON to learn about this game, and I have no clue what the correct answer is.

Our session lasted 4 hours in all, and I'm not going to give away the big changes that were made to my game, but I can say this....Jennifear's session was worth a lot more than the amount of money that I paid for it. She was VERY knowledgeable about tournament poker, and changed a great number of the ways that I approach the game. It was a FANTASTIC session with keen insight on my playing style, and I think completely changed the way that I play poker.

I know that this seems bold, and that you may ask yourself, "how does a 4 hour session change everything that you've learned?" Well, the easy answer is, I felt that I was missing something, and something big. I have just begun to apply the skills that she has taught, and there is still a TON of material to fiddle through that I haven't even touched. But the big lesson that I learned is that as a poker player, you must ALWAYS continue to learn to keep your best game your best game.

Let me repeat that for dramatic effect:

YOU must ALWAYS continue to learn to keep your best game your best game.

If you're not learning from the game, then it WILL catch up to you. I still have a ton to learn about this game. After hundreds of thousands of hands, I still have a ton to learn about the game. But I really took a lot of valuable information from the session that payed immediate dividends. Using the styles and applying them, I took first in a 27 person S&G on FTP, and then I ran deep in the Daily Dollar Tournament online, losing a MONSTER pot, calling an all in for about 260k vs. another all in of about 259k, and losing KK to AA. And I felt good about it. Because for several hours, I played mistake free poker. I lost my share of pots, but I didn't get away from the new stuff that I'd learned, and I played REALLY good solid poker.

I'm hoping to keep this up in the weeks to come and continue my bankroll building online. I have a lot of faith that with a renewed sense of identity, that I'm ready to take on all comers, and prove a point, that when I'm the best player at the table, I'm not going to be afraid to get it all in to get your chips.

Thanks again to Jennifear, whom I would recommend to all of my readers for a session or two. Trust me when I say, you're getting your money's worth.


Steve "I Make Donkey's Rich" Carse said...

Um, what were these lessons? Can i get a verbatim transcript of the conversations between you and your coach? Also, were this coaching session face to face, phone, IM, video conference? I'll gladly pay you tuesday for a hamburger today.

Steve "I Make Grammar Errors in Comments" Carse said...

Damn it. #CommentGrammarErrorFail. (see above comment)

Jack said...

Congrats on accepting coaching Paul. So many people are too prideful to do it, but just having an experienced player watch your game helps immensely. Congrats!