Friday, June 01, 2007

Inside the mind of a nit.

I recently became a 'pooh-bah' on 2+2. Traditionally, when you acheive this you make a big post to give back to the community. Here is my post:


Inside the mind of a nit.

Welcome to my pooh-bah post. It took me over 3 years to get here, so hopefully I have something worthwhile to say.

In these 3 years, I have evolved I lot. Both as a person, and as a player. This is the post I wish I read 3 years ago.


Managing yourself

Poker is hard. And no, this not something people less intelligent than you say, it's the honest-to-god truth.

It takes a special person to be successful at this game.

Strategy is the easy part. Self discipline and control are what makes it difficult.

Now, what _IS_ self-discipline?

Generally,it is the ability to do something regardless of your emotional state.
This means, no matter how you feel about something, you continually act in your best interests.
With poker, deviance from self-discipline is known as tilt.

There are several forms of tilt that people encounter, and I think its dependant upon personality.

The first, and most destructive form, is moving to a game where you can not withstand the variance.
It's happened to most of us. You lose $100 playing $25NL, and instead of grinding it out, you move up to $400NL where you can recover your losses quicker.
The only problem is you have a $500 bankroll, and now 80% of it is in play.

Other people will take the $100 and go to the blackjack table or play some craps.

Maybe you win, maybe you lose, but if you do this enough times, eventually, you WILL go broke. No doubt.

This is because this is a GAMBLE with a negative expectation (busto), and poker is not about taking gambles with negative expectations.

But you know this, and do it anyways.

This is where self-discipline comes into play. Without it, you will never build and maintain a bankroll.

In this game, there are MANY good players. WHat separates the great ones from the good ones is control.

So how does one build self-discipline? Well, it takes time, effort, and practice. This article helped me tremendously:

http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/06/self-discipline/

Yes, it's long, I know. But if you can't get through it, well, then it's pretty obvious you don't have the self-discipline to be successful at poker.

One major change I've made in this regard involves WHEN I play. When you're losing, you have that desire to get even.
It's that desire that crushes so many bankrolls.
As simple as this sounds -- play more when you're winning, and less when you're losing. Even if you only break for an hour or two, it will help.

I'll also share my tip to somewhat calm your tilt. K'naan said it better than I ever could when he sung: "Smile while you're bleeding".

(BTW, I'm a pysch minor, which totally qualifies me to give the following advice. ;) )
One idea is known as the facial feedback hypothesis(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facial_feedback_hypothesis for more info), and states that facial movement can influence emotional experience.

When you get sucked out on, or make a bad play, there are emotions that arise within you.
What I'm proposing, is that it is not your emotions causing your reaction, but rather your reaction causing your emotion.

So, if you can manage to avoid these reactions, you can avoid the corresponding emotions.
Instead of getting angry, frowning, and slamming your mouse down, you should try to relax, smile and control your breathing.

You'll be amazed how easily this can keep you on track.

In addition to staying in control at the table, you must maintain control of your life away from it as well to be successful.

The first thing is to stay healthy. Try your best to get to the gym or otherwise get some exercise.

It will help increase your stamina and mental alertness.
This is something increasingly overlooked.

Secondly, plan your meals around your sessions. DO NOT sit down at the poker table after right a huge meal, or when you havn't eaten for a while.

For one, if you've just eaten, lots of your body's blood is allotted to digestion, and that takes away from your brain. You wont be as sharp as you'd like.

And if you're hungry, you will easily be distracted (there as a huge study on children who didn't eat breakfast suffering in school, and succumbing to ADD).

The last suggestion I have for you is to get involved (and stay involved) in the poker community.

Poker can be a very lonely job at times, and playing online deprives us of the human contact we might find at the traditional office place.

Well, treat this forum as an office. While it is not a substitute, it _IS_ social interaction nonetheless.

Share the resources of your fellow employees, and have fun with them.
We're all going through the same things, after all.


Managing your game

My second piece of advice is much simpler.
Learn as many games as you can. Play omahahaha, play stud, play high/low games, play LIMIT HOLD 'EM(seriously).

All will help you tremendously with NL hold 'em (limit hold em will help a lot with hand reading).
Last piece of advice has to do with multi-tabling.

A lot of you don't need this, because you can successfully 12-table. But for those who are struggling with it, my advice is simple.

Load up all the micro SNGs you can, and play them simultaneously. I'm talking 20-25 tables.
Try to make the best decisions you can, but don't worry about results.
Play multiple sets of these.

Now load up 8 tables of small stakes cash games and revel in how slow the play seems to be.
Slowly add tables day by day until you're at 12.
Profit.

Finally, I'll end my post with a theorem.

This is a trend I've picked up at full ring over the last 600k hands, and specifically applies to mediocre(or just plain bad) players.

One of these players leads out from OOP on the flop, and you flat call.

If the turn pairs the board (top pair, especially if it's an ACE), and the player checks, he almost always has trips. Play accordingly.

Simple? Yeah, I know. And I wish I could show some proof, but you'll just have to trust me.

I don't know what to call it, so I'm open to suggestions. ;)

cheers, and good luck at the tables!

-John


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4 comments:

BIGSCOOPZ said...

greatest post ever john... next to ur high stakes story post lol..heh
like ur explanation on its the reaction causing the emotion...
true dat... im saving this post as a file =)
gl in ur games..
ez

Littleacornman said...

Top notch post,thanks for that.

20kmission said...

really good post.
btw, when someone cold calls me in position, it always makes me very uneasy. Usually ill end up firing one bullet too many or they fold on thee turn.

the_main said...

thanks guys, hope it helps