Getting from A to B

Over the past few days, I have discussed where my poker game was last year versus where my poker game is today. How did I get to where I am today? I attribute my evolution to many factors, of which education, belief, drive and practical application are by far the largest factors in which has driven me to become a better poker player.

I do not know about you. But as for me, if I have a “hobby,” a “profession,” or even a “passion” for something, its kind of important to me that I am both enjoying it and good at what I am doing. I am passionate about writing, for example. I think I am good at it. I drive myself to write daily. This is something that always has been on my “to do” list, but various things prevented me from doing so. I hold myself accountable to post my thoughts daily… or close to daily at the Poker Pub. My writing helps me to focus, understand, and yes, even vent. In addition to that, I am working on improving my writing (the sudden, unexplained use of spelling and grammar check being one small improvement). I am trying to write on the things I know, or wish to know that are of interest to me. I stick to a style of writing that is somewhat conversational while telling a story all at the same time. I feel that style of writing is my strongest. I drive myself to do this early and often.

When working to improve my poker game, once again something I feel that I am good at and thoroughly enjoy, I push myself to play better. I work daily to add at least one new “thing” to my game. I push myself to read. Speaking of reading, I have never been much of a reader. Historically, I have not “allowed” myself to enjoy what some people would refer to as “a good book.” Five pages and I am snoring. So, reading books does not come natural to me. I still cannot force myself to read books such as Harry Potter or (insert next book turned into movie here). I have been able to manage to read any books Philosophical in nature, relating to Poker, or relating to the technical side of investing. I guess I am not a fan of reading for leisure, and that is acceptable. What is not acceptable is if I would not be willing, driven to read books that will assist me in improving something in my life. I hold myself accountable in that I shall always have a book in front of me that will help me out in some way. I drive myself to read daily. I find my game and my life improving daily by reading daily.

I drive myself to implement the skills and concepts I have read into my game or my life. Obviously, this requires that I have done the due diligence necessary to allow me to “believe” what I have read. I am a straight up skeptic by nature, so rest assured I will not read that in which I do not believe, unless it is to gather “the other” point of view. Harrington’s book, for example, tells me to push with all hands ranked about the ten-eight offsuit when my M is low and I am first to open the pot. For someone not used to doing such seemingly outrageous things, this is quite scary. It requires belief, faith even. It requires me to step well outside my comfort zone. No one ever said poker was a comfortable game, by the way. It stands to reason that I just might be required to face some scary, not so comfortable situations from time to time. I believed, I stepped out on a limb, and I pushed. Now, I am all about “drinking the kool-aid” that Action Dan serves in his literary works.

I choose my “experts” carefully and avoid “false profits.” What do I mean by false profits? Ever been to school, college perhaps… or even a seminar at work. The subject matter expert is speaking, however there’s “that guy” sitting in the front and on the right of the boardroom/class room who usually seems to summarize what the speaker says. He does not do this to gain further understanding; but instead, he does this to show everyone else what he “knows.” If allowed, he dominates the conversation of the class in a disruptive manner (to the speaker) and tries to position himself as the subject matter expert, as opposed to letting the speaker continue to speak. After class or the seminar lets out, he attempts to “herd his flock” and if allowed, he installs himself as the expert, offering half-assed, out of context advice. Some people actually follow this person, which could be scary. They figure he knew enough to hang in conversation, he must know what the hell he is talking about. My contention is that I am unlikely to follow someone blindly unless they have “been there and done that.” This does not mean I will not consider what “that guy” has to say. However, there will be no installation as expert, nor will there be blind following from “this guy.” People such as Harrington have in fact been there. They have done that. I will follow them, still striving to understand what I am following and why I am following it, of course.

Once again, tying into the skeptic in me, I must know what I believe AND why I believe it. I have great difficulty accepting things as fact when I cannot make sense of them. I run the “logical equation” in my head and it must balance when I encounter a potential belief. If the equation does not balance, or seems incomplete, I cannot accept it. I look to disprove it, investigate further, or not even waste my time pondering such things. Pure and simple, I think for myself. I know enough to know I do not know everything. I know enough to know that it is not wise to accept blindly. If I cannot answer the basic questions, “what do I believe” and “why do I believe the way I do,” we do not have a balanced equation.

Finally, we have practical application. If I believe (generally speaking) it is correct to push with ten-eight offsuit at a tight table while close to the bubble and a low M, I must implement this belief when it is appropriate, right? What good is a belief if I am not willing to apply it? Additionally, I believe I am a good poker player. I believe my game needs constant attention; improving, reflecting upon, and studying it to become a better poker player. I believe I am capable both physically and mentally of making such improvements. I believe that bankroll willing, I can move up the ranks. I believe in myself, I believe in that which I choose to read. And I believe in what I write in my poker blog.

Finally, I believe that one year from today, I will look back at this entry and think to myself, “Wow, relatively speaking, I had no clue what I was doing back then, did I?” I guess that is part of the evolution of a poker player though.