American in America

    • verneer
      verneer
      Bronze
      Joined: 06.08.2009 Posts: 366
      Black Friday was brutal for most American poker players. I've spent the last four years thinking deeply about my game and trying to stay up-to-date with the evolution of poker. My results from 2010 and 2011 were consistent - something I would attribute to working hard on the emotional part of my game which I still struggle with:



      Around 300K of this was at 100NL, 260K at 200NL, 125K at 50NL, 100K at 25NL, and 95K at 10NL. As you can see, I played the whole micro-SSNL spectrum and felt comfortable grinding up a bankroll as was necessary.

      Poker was fun and something I was good at, but there was a question that I couldn't get out of my head ever since I started playing:

      Why do some players win and other don't in the long run?

      It was not luck and pretty quickly I realized it was not intelligence. Don't get me wrong - both luck and intelligence are necessary, but they aren't the final answer. This is a question that drove me much more than the money involved.

      To try to answer this question, I repeatedly moved down to the lowest limits and tried to claw my way back up. I reflected on how differently the limits play and what I felt was necessary to succeed in going from 10NL to 200NL and then being able to play there at a high level. Writing about the ideas I had helped me organize my thoughts, but it led to more questions than answers.

      There are some ideas which I believe to be critical to understand which are hard to articulate. Once you start exploring them, you realize their complexity. For example: "When should you c-bet?"

      I also coached a lot of different players in that period - always looking for why they were not reaching their goals. This led me to focus on the mental and emotional parts of learning. A common thread among most of my students was a constant feeling of anxiety and paranoia when they played. It's almost like as soon as they sat down to play there was a metaphorical hurricane of emotion in their mind. I imagined it to be something like this:



      The ideal of course would be more like this:



      In some ways, Black Friday was a relief. Before it, I felt constant pressure to play all the time. I felt that when I wasn't playing, I was losing money. Of course there were plenty of times where I played quite a bit AND lost money. I was very stressful. After Black Friday, that stress of always needing to play was gone - I simply was no longer able to do it. It was nice for the first month or two to have a forced break, but then the full reality started sinking in and now it's bad.

      Not being able to play allowed me to really focus on my writing and start spending more time with coaching. Coaching is another thing I thought about quite a bit. I believe that most micro stakes players need to do lots of individual study before they even begin thinking about getting a coach. That's not to say that a typical 5NL player cannot benefit from hiring an expert coach (of course they can), but most of the time the price of the coach outweights the value of the experience from the session. That's a whole other topic though.

      It seems like you guys at PokerStrategy have a good system in place that supports beginning players though - with the hands being reviewed by pros and lots of material (articles and videos) for beginners to explore. Having such resources in one place is critical for growth.

      So why am I writing this blog? I want my writing to serve as a reflection tool and get feedback on the fundamental question I highlighted above: Why do some players win and other don't? What can you do to be in the first camp and not the second? There is no quick and easy answer. The quick and easy answers ("Play tight, aggressive, and don't tilt!") are incomplete although they often have enough truth behind them to sound good.

      Well - this first blog post went a little long, but hopefully you got a sense of both me as a person and what I'm hoping to do here :)
  • 615 replies
    • Gerv
      Gerv
      Bronze
      Joined: 07.05.2008 Posts: 17,678
      1st, Verneer from CardRunners? :)

      Are u doing any more plo vids here/there?
    • verneer
      verneer
      Bronze
      Joined: 06.08.2009 Posts: 366
      Originally posted by Gerv
      1st, Verneer from CardRunners? :)
      That's me :)

      Are u doing any more plo vids here/there?
      PLO is super fun, but at this time, I have no plans to make more videos on it. I would have to devote myself to learning the game and I would much rather focus my energy on studying the teaching and learning of NLHE - specifically helping micro stakes players successfully build their bankrolls and be able to move up in limits.

      I might pick PLO back up at some point, but right now I like what I do.
    • TetraQuark
      TetraQuark
      Bronze
      Joined: 21.05.2008 Posts: 1,520
      ZOMG! Verneer! :megusta:

      So nice of you to wanna help and share. Read ur "how to beat micro guide in 2010 or 2009" Come to think about it I prolly understood maybe 40% of what you wrote back then.

      I think the topic u are trying to research is just too good and yeah most of the time anwsers to it are argumented as "play TAG", "don't tilt". But that is just bs. Same goes for PStrategy teaching material. Good for learning ropes at micro, but for a struggling player at NL50 or NL100 they don't give appropriate material. Ofc the main part is always on player himself and I believe winning player learn and than practice their winning A game by themselves. Ofc someone can show u how but if not fully understood and accepted there is just no use of it.
    • FingersMalone
      FingersMalone
      Bronze
      Joined: 30.06.2011 Posts: 381
      Epic first post Verneer.

      Subscribed.

      Best of luck with your quest, it is quite a tricky one.

      I'd compare the parts of the post about how some players cannot move up stakes to choking knowledgable quiz show contestants whose memory deserts them as soon as the money starts to have life-changing value.

      Maybe some of it is: Emotions overriding cognitive functions plus a little bit of self sabotage mixed in a with an overly risk averse personality.
    • michel2311
      michel2311
      Bronze
      Joined: 14.11.2011 Posts: 2,121
      As a beginning (learning) NL4-player I'm really gonna follow this blog. Hope to learn a lot here!!!

      And feel free to place some advice in my lockerroom (beginners school). :D :D
    • verneer
      verneer
      Bronze
      Joined: 06.08.2009 Posts: 366
      Originally posted by Gregor86So nice of you to wanna help and share. Read ur "how to beat micro guide in 2010 or 2009" Come to think about it I prolly understood maybe 40% of what you wrote back then.
      I probably like about 40% of what I wrote back then, so that makes sense :)

      Ofc the main part is always on player himself and I believe winning player learn and than practice their winning A game by themselves. Ofc someone can show u how but if not fully understood and accepted there is just no use of it.
      There is definitely some of that going on, but a lot of learning falls in the "fake it till you make it" category. We ape what we see to be working first, and only later try to understand the underlying mechanics. We are social creatures by nature, so embrace that.

      The problem becomes when you become satisfied before taking that next step.
    • verneer
      verneer
      Bronze
      Joined: 06.08.2009 Posts: 366
      Unlearning Poker

      Just finished a session with a student who plays 10NL. I feel like a big part of coaching is helping people unlearn certain concepts that they have heard repeatedly. Our brains are "lazy" by nature and always look for shortcuts. It's natural and you don't have to think you are a bad person if this happens to you. For example, look at this picture:



      Now, you probably figured out the first mistake quickly. But how quickly did you figure out the 2nd one? The brain used a series of short cuts to provide you with a "rough draft" of the message. It did so instantly. You then had to slow down, go back, and deconstruct the message to make a new, correct one.

      Basically - brain is lazy, takes shortcuts. So how does this applies to poker?

      In poker, like in any other part of life, your brain wants to make things as simple as possible in order to focus on other things. For example, today I discussed playing out of the blinds with my student. As we begin the discussion, he says:

      "One thing that I read is when a competent TAG raises on the button, it's not profitable to call with small pocket pairs. We should either three-bet or fold them."

      This is what he had learned. In general, the advice has some merit. For a large chunk of the rest of the session, we discussed the following:

      1. Why do people give that advice?
      2. When should you deviate from the advice?

      A beginner doesn't know how to answer the first question. An intermediate player knows the answer to the first question and maybe a short answer to the second one. An expert is able to discuss in great detail and depth the answer to the second question. We were unlearning.

      This general idea is what I've learned studying graduate level math - the importance of counterexamples.

      For example: How many degrees are there in the interior of a triangle? Got it? Ok ... now when is that not true? Same idea - breadth of understanding is measured by your ability to recognize deviations from rules and norms. First, you gotta learn, then unlearn.

      So - want to give those two questions a shot?
    • matel17
      matel17
      Bronze
      Joined: 11.07.2010 Posts: 1,278
      Hi Verneer :)

      I think part of the answer for the question in your first post "Why do some people win and other don't in the long run?" is consistency vs inconsistency.

      The successful players are all consistent with their education. They're patient, passionate and they keep going at it. Others don't. And I believe this holds some truth in any discipline: martial arts, music, sports and even going through college for example.

      I think the reason so many are inconsistent is that it is an extremely uncomfortable psychological place to be in the beginning. After the initial 'honeymoon period' reality kicks in and it's hard. It's hard because everything is unknown and unfamiliar - the strategy, the swings, the emotions, money handling, hundreds of daily distractions etc. etc. all contribute to becoming an inconsistent student of the game.

      Just my two cents anyway.
    • WillyD
      WillyD
      Bronze
      Joined: 14.11.2011 Posts: 242
      I don't think i'm the most qualified person to answer those questions... I'm only a poor NL10 player but i'm gonna give it a shot and I wouldn't be surprised bu bad comments :) don't be shy to correct me

      For what i know:

      1- People suggest to 3bet or fold the small pocket pairs out of position because, usually a good TAG will only be aggressive with his made hands and won't go crazy with his top pair or a flush draw... So even if you hit your set you won't be able to extract a huge value out of this player a large amount of times. Of course, sometimes you will be able to stack off but the amount of time this will happen is quite small.

      Now the tougher part :)

      2- You should deviate from this advice, for example if you have history with this good TAG player; if a couple of big pots were competed between the two or if you know that this player knows that you know that he is a TAG and that could change his way of playing against you, then you could give it a shot.

      Also, if he may think you're on tilt or vice-versa, you could also try to call your small pocket pairs because he could stack off with worse hands against you than usually.

      Another possible scenario case permitting you to call those small pocket pairs profitably is if your image at the table is very loose, then a good TAG could be inclined to stack off easier against you

      Hope my answers weren't too bad...

      I know they are far from perfect but if you could give me the good answers it would be nice since I thought a bit about it :D

      Btw, very nice blog!
    • Kruppe
      Kruppe
      Black
      Joined: 20.02.2008 Posts: 2,144
      'A common thread among most of my students was a constant feeling of anxiety and paranoia when they played. It's almost like as soon as they sat down to play there was a metaphorical hurricane of emotion in their mind.'

      wow, this is so true. been grappling with this for years.
    • trickybob
      trickybob
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.07.2010 Posts: 914
      Definitely one of the best posters on 2+2.

      Nice to have you here.

      I'm in.
    • roopopper
      roopopper
      Bronze
      Joined: 31.12.2010 Posts: 4,289
      Hello Verneer

      Welcome to ps and love your blog already :)

      I have been playing the micros for just over a year now, and have never managed to beat nl2. I have recently taken a big step back from playing poker to study and think a bit more about my game.

      I have spent the last 2 weeks reading strategies and watching videos ( spent six hours watching vids this weekend)

      I have stopped accepting everything I read/watch as gospel and started to think about the advice I have been given and if it could help improve my game.

      I'm a very very slow learner but I tend not to give up and a few things I have started to do is making a small difference to my game.
      Here are few things that have helped improve my game over the last couple of weeks.

      1) taking notes at the table ie.hands that are played, will call down with weak pair, bet sizing etc
      2) Looking for spots to get my money in with fishy players
      3) thinking about how I can get money from every player at the table ie. have they got any weak spots in their game that would give me an edge.
      4) not just blindly following a chart but having a reason to pop my chips in the middle.

      Also I have switched to 6 max as I feel its easier to gain info on 5 players instead of 8 (my reasoning behind this stems from there are so many cards out there in fr someone is going to have a premium hand!! lol )

      Hope i have not gone on too long!! The reason I wanted to post this is with all your coaching and teaching is this the point where a player really begins to improve? Is there a point when you are coaching when you start to see a player really improve their game? Have you noticed a pattern in the players you coach ?

      Roo
    • VorpalF2F
      VorpalF2F
      Super Moderator
      Super Moderator
      Joined: 02.09.2010 Posts: 8,916
      Originally posted by verneer
      Why do some players win and other don't in the long run?

      It was not luck and pretty quickly I realized it was not intelligence. Don't get me wrong - both luck and intelligence are necessary, but they aren't the final answer. This is a question that drove me much more than the money involved.

      To try to answer this question, I repeatedly moved down to the lowest limits and tried to claw my way back up. I reflected on how differently the limits play and what I felt was necessary to succeed in going from 10NL to 200NL and then being able to play there at a high level. Writing about the ideas I had helped me organize my thoughts, but it led to more questions than answers.
      First, just like there is variance in poker, there is variance in people.
      In the human population, each characteristic is a spectrum -- there are those in whom a characteristic is strong, those in whom it is weak, and everyone else in between.
      A "naturally good" poker player will be strong on a majority of characteristics that make a good poker player.

      For the rest of us, we need to build up those characteristics and expunge those that harm us. Fortunately, almost all characteristics that be changed by practise and study.

      It is interesting to note that you "repeatedly moved down to the lowest limits".
      I'm doing that now. As part of my year-end review I discovered that almost my entire bankroll comes from double-or-nothings, but I lost at NL2, and won at NL4 - 10. My shots at NL25 and NL50 were failures, and my results at 50-30-20 SnGs are revolting. I'll be re-learning each limit, and each genre with a view to playing each properly.

      Subscribed.
    • roopopper
      roopopper
      Bronze
      Joined: 31.12.2010 Posts: 4,289
      Originally posted by VorpalF2F
      Originally posted by verneer
      Why do some players win and other don't in the long run?

      It was not luck and pretty quickly I realized it was not intelligence. Don't get me wrong - both luck and intelligence are necessary, but they aren't the final answer. This is a question that drove me much more than the money involved.

      To try to answer this question, I repeatedly moved down to the lowest limits and tried to claw my way back up. I reflected on how differently the limits play and what I felt was necessary to succeed in going from 10NL to 200NL and then being able to play there at a high level. Writing about the ideas I had helped me organize my thoughts, but it led to more questions than answers.
      First, just like there is variance in poker, there is variance in people.
      In the human population, each characteristic is a spectrum -- there are those in whom a characteristic is strong, those in whom it is weak, and everyone else in between.
      A "naturally good" poker player will be strong on a majority of characteristics that make a good poker player.

      For the rest of us, we need to build up those characteristics and expunge those that harm us. Fortunately, almost all characteristics that be changed by practise and study.

      It is interesting to note that you "repeatedly moved down to the lowest limits".
      I'm doing that now. As part of my year-end review I discovered that almost my entire bankroll comes from double-or-nothings, but I lost at NL2, and won at NL4 - 10. My shots at NL25 and NL50 were failures, and my results at 50-30-20 SnGs are revolting. I'll be re-learning each limit, and each genre with a view to playing each properly.


      Subscribed.
      interesting post Vorpal, I'm going to follow your progress. Are you going to blog about this?
    • verneer
      verneer
      Bronze
      Joined: 06.08.2009 Posts: 366
      Roo - I can tell you that the #1 thing you can do to improve your game is to reduce the number of tables you are playing (unless you are already only playing 1 table - then I recommend switching to Full Ring).

      In terms of available advice, one thing that I used to do was find players that I had high confidence in (Phil Galfond comes to mind), and do a search of their last 100 posts. I would read every single one of them and examine how my own thinking matched up with theirs. Anytime there was a difference, I would assume I was wrong and try to figure out what was wrong with my thought process.

      Originally posted by roopopperThe reason I wanted to post this is with all your coaching and teaching is this the point where a player really begins to improve? Is there a point when you are coaching when you start to see a player really improve their game? Have you noticed a pattern in the players you coach ?
      That's a tough question for which I don't have a clear answer. Here is what my intuition says:

      Your learning really takes off when you achieve a certain inner-calmness about what you are trying to do. In college, I went to listen to a legendary coach talk about success. He said "soccer must mean everything to you. It must also mean nothing at the same time." I had a hard time wrapping my head around that at the time, and still kind of do. Basically - you must fully commit to the process and don't let bad results cloud you.

      I will be thinking more about your question though.
    • 1984ioc
      1984ioc
      Bronze
      Joined: 16.07.2011 Posts: 712
      Can someone please tell me how to subscribe to threads.Absolutely love this already.BTW that image is crazy how it tricks our brains



      Can you let me know how to get in contact with you regards coaching Verneer,that is of course if you don't mind and still have openings.
    • roopopper
      roopopper
      Bronze
      Joined: 31.12.2010 Posts: 4,289
      Originally posted by verneer
      Roo - I can tell you that the #1 thing you can do to improve your game is to reduce the number of tables you are playing (unless you are already only playing 1 table - then I recommend switching to Full Ring).

      In terms of available advice, one thing that I used to do was find players that I had high confidence in (Phil Galfond comes to mind), and do a search of their last 100 posts.
      lol I only play one table at a time ( why full ring? because its less swingy?)

      Hurry up with the 100 posts dude!!! I like your style :D
    • verneer
      verneer
      Bronze
      Joined: 06.08.2009 Posts: 366
      lol I only play one table at a time ( why full ring? because its less swingy?)
      You tell me why Full Ring :)

      Hurry up with the 100 posts dude!!! I like your style :D
      Thanks! I have plenty of writing out there but I'm not sure what I am and am not allowed to post on this forum.

      For example, here is an article that was recently used for an MIT class
      (just skip to page 6 of the document):
      http://web.mit.edu/willma/www/readings_from_building_a_bankroll.pdf

      It includes part of a section about Playing Turns and Rivers. Some of it is advanced, some of it is basic. Still - I've tried to include both a variety of concepts I think are necessary for others to think about ("Betting for Pot Control") as well as my own overarching thought process in those situations.
    • TwiceT
      TwiceT
      Black
      Joined: 15.07.2007 Posts: 4,796
      Welcome to our blogging section sir :)



      Truly wise words!

      Originally posted by verneer
      In college, I went to listen to a legendary coach talk about success. He said "soccer must mean everything to you. It must also mean nothing at the same time." I had a hard time wrapping my head around that at the time, and still kind of do. Basically - you must fully commit to the process and don't let bad results cloud you.