Lessons fOR Rene
Gather information and put your lab coat on
As I am slowly starting to play some hours of poker each week again, and one thing gets me very excited! “What will come out?” It’s this curiosity and ability to observe your own performance that makes a player improve rapidly and tilt less. I only have one goal when I am playing: taking the available time to make the best decision possible at that moment and observe myself doing so.
In this process I am collecting valuable data on what my A-C game looks like, what triggers tilt, and what things I am thinking about while playing a hand or before making an irrational decision. With this intention, I changed the goal from something that is out of my control (dollars won during this session) to something that is in my control (gathering info). If you don’t set an intention, the things out of your control will be your measurement of a successful or unsuccessful session.
While focusing on that which is within my control, I can “win” every session because my definition of winning is taking my time and gathering info if I approach my sessions this way. With this information I can determine what is most important to work on in my study time and set new focus points for next sessions. All resulting in a loop of continuous improvement.
Set an intention of how you want to think
Currently I play my sessions late in the day and without any kind of warmup. This is on purpose, as in this way I can observe what my weakest version (my C-game) looks like. I have noticed that my thought process in many spots, and in particular on rivers, are not that rational and very bias sensitive. I can hook in one thought like, ‘’Villain is an underbluffer’’ and therefor I don’t even start to think about if this situation might be an exception. Also, I have noticed that I tend to use language that is too radical, for example ‘’He always…’’, or ‘’He never…’’. These two points are valuable inputs that I can now move to my intentions before playing. I am setting an intention of how I want to think or react in certain situations. Always ask yourself: is how I am thinking about this hand, or how I am reacting to this situation setting me up for success? If not, what would be a better way to think or react in this situation? And from there on; practice and set the intention to do so before the start of every session.
Ps. If you want to go next level; before every session, visualize yourself being in these situations and seeing yourself thinking and reacting in this new way. This is what I have done over the years and which I found to be the most effective way to get change in this area.
We are playing against humans, not bots
In the current solver age of poker this is something we tend to forget and it’s a part of poker that is often overlooked. But the fact is that we are humans and that we are biased to lean towards certain tendencies. Just like as it is important to understand why a solver (theory) does what it does, it is also important to understand why humans deviate from theory in certain situations. Part of the poker study is to find the psychology behind, for example, range construction errors, bluffing and bluff catching, and timing tells. After you have identified, start using this psychology against your opponents and you will reap the benefits. If you want to become a more successful poker player, this part of the study process can’t be neglected!
Wish you a great end of the year!
Rene 'TheWakko' Kuhlman