[Coach] Erik Stenqvist: Hesitation to Grind: Part 1 Q&A

    • ErikStenqvist
      ErikStenqvist
      Global
      Joined: 14.01.2013 Posts: 431


      Know the feeling? Forcing ourselves to sit down and risk our money in an arena where we have little or no control of the short-term outcome is something we shouldn’t underestimate the difficulty of. If we take a good look at the environment we actually play poker in closely, we realize that there isn't much security to hold on to. Well, that’s poker in a nutshell for you, loads of variance and no control. Being able to overcome the hurdle or “resistance” we feel isn't as easy as it sounds. Even though we logically know we should put the hours in and grind for the long term, in the present moment we often think differently and therefore also feel differently. This can be a hard obstacle to overcome, and we tend to try to think ourselves out of it. Or we sit around hoping and waiting for the emotions or thought patterns to change or calm down and then we are able to power through and move forward (Too much uncontrolled, negative thinking is actually a big part of the core issue, but more on that in upcoming articles.)

      But instead of waiting for things to take its course and fall into place, we can actually take matters into our own hands. We can face the issue head on.

      First thing we need to make clear is that even though a lot of people suffer from the hesitation to grind, how it takes form in people is very different. Everyone pretty much has their own unique hesitation to grind, made up from different fears and thought patterns. So before we do anything else, we need to look into what your hesitation to grind looks like. This will be the starting point, or problem if you wish, that we will try to learn more about and hopefully put some work into resolving. So as you read the rest of the article, think about how this applies to you. This article is made to make you think more deeply about a spot that most poker players have an issue with.

      There are two parts (two sides of the same coin if you will) that need to come together to be able to overcome or remove the issue of hesitation to grind. One is passive, the other is active. Like almost everything there is of course a range between passive and active. Just read through and see what resonates with you and start to get a feeling for how you think and feel in the situation where the hesitation to grind shows up.

      So what does that actually mean?

      The Passive: With passive we mean qualities such as acceptance, letting go, awareness, and consciousness. To not judge or label even though we might be right. For example, poker is an unfair game to say the least, but not fully accepting this cold hard fact will make playing it a lot more stressful. But we know it is an unfair game, so we have all the “right” in the world to be upset at it. But is that approach working?

      The Active: Here we have willpower, warm-up routines, Mental HH's, visualization, goal setting, and working on underlying issues of fear off the tables and while playing, etc. It is important to make a conscious effort to practice controlling issues away from the tables and also actively while playing because we have to be able to deal with the environment poker puts us in in the present moment.

      Most people are better or weighted more towards one part of the two. Others have a complicated mix between the two. This says a lot about us as individuals. For some, the obvious of what is in front of them is often missed or overlooked. And for others they miss the complexity of themselves. Most of us have to work on improving both but also to make sure they are in balance. It's harder than it seems, because the approach to the two are the opposite sides of the same coin.

      When you read this you might feel that your instincts tell you one approach is superior to the other. Often this means that the side that you feel less “drawn” towards (the active or the passive) or that doesn't fit you as well is the one you should spend the most attention and focus on improving. This is why and when we have to step in and take the role of “The Coach” and look into and tell ourselves not what we want to hear but what we need to hear. Ill give you two examples of two common ways of looking at the issue from two different viewpoints.

      The Passive Individual: Tends to over think and procrastinate; wants to find the solution to the problem before facing the issue and often knows the logic but lacks the will to get started. Also tends to doubt and over think almost every spot. Here, the fear of failure holds the player back by taking all the small and large potentially negative issues we logically know can happen in a session and makes it into a mountain to overcome. “How am I supposed to deal with all of this?” the mind says. And we become passive. What the mind (or rather fear) is not telling you, however, is that you face it and overcome it the same way you do with everything else in life: One step at a time and by building your strength and experience.

      So you see how the emotion or thought of the “mountain” is fear's way of hiding as a rational thought. Think about this for a bit. Can you see how the emotion isolates an event, points to it, and calls it true? Because if we pretend that fear is a separate entity from us, we can see how it does not want us to become aware and act on the fact the we need to face whatever we need to face and put in the work. And that when we actually get to work, we will inevitably overcome the hurdle in front of us.

      So are there many ways we can spot fear and negativity that holds us back if it's hidden in similar spots on or off the tables? Yes there is! Maybe not always directly, but what you can look for is the “resistance” or hurdle that fear creates to hold us back from doing whatever positive activity it can be. But the resistance will be individual to you, so now you have to look inwards a bit and see what you can find.

      So try this: Think about all the aspects of your life where you know logically that something would be good for you to do but you still never end up doing it.

      Here are a few examples:

      • Starting an exercise regiment
      • Studying poker
      • Eating healthy
      • Settling an argument with a family member
      • Following your dreams
      • Forgiving yourself or others for past mistakes


      These are just a few, but look at the thing in each of them that is holding you back. The situations can differ but the emotions can be very similar. If we learn the emotional pattern of a certain spot then we can look for the pattern and not the situation. We use the pattern and the negative emotion as a compass.

      So when you recognize the feeling or the pattern, you know that it is something you need to face; to actively work on and go from having a passive understanding to an active response.

      The Active Individual: Uses willpower to overcome most hurdles in life and poker. Tries to face negative thought patterns head on and is often sure that the active approach he or she takes is the right one. When an approach to life or poker isn't working, more of the same medicine is often used. Adding quantity in hours, sessions, or studying, not questioning the underlying approach or the actual quality of the time put in. Never asking, “What is the ROI of the energy and focus put in?”

      What I feel is by far the biggest issue for this player is that they look at everything or most of what lies on the passive side as weakness. Mindfulness, looking into who you are, acknowledging fear, and talking about emotions are overlooked or ignored. Almost always without the “sample size” to back up their very firm belief that it's, to put it mildly, “bullshit.”

      It's easier for this player to have something clear to face and fight with by putting more of the same approach into it. Often this person has to hit a big “run bad,” bankroll issues, or have something negative happen on a personal level that is strong enough to make them confront this.

      Like everything else in life, this concept also has a hand range. The passive is 72o under the gun and the active is AA on the button. But between them there is every other hand combination. Which hand combination are you? What parts of the range can you play well? Have you looked into it deeply enough to know?

      There is one more area we need to cover that is connected to hesitation to grind: Fun and boredom. There is an extra element that can change things a bit when it comes to this topic; for example, if you have played poker for many years or are a regular grinder that lost passion for the game.

      This is something that the hesitation to grind can use to its advantage and hide behind. You will often hear guys saying, “Well, I do want to grind, but there are all these other more fun things I can do. I don't really have to grind just right now.”

      Look at the logic in that statement and lets pretend it's all true. He does want to grind in a way, but there are more fun things to do for sure, and he doesn't have a gun to his head that forces him to grind right now. But what fear isn't telling you here is that it uses a technique where it isolates and has you not look at the big picture. Because the big picture is exactly this: Many small moments where we don't do it “this time.”

      There is only one big issue: That we don't deal with small issues when they come up. Poker's not fun anymore, you say? Well when did you actively try to make it fun without just adding more of the same formula you've used for ages? If you feel it's still impossible to find fun in the game, then find your passion outside the game and use poker to be a stepping stone for that passion. At least you will have found out if your hesitation to grind was because poker wasn't fun or that there was fear of something behind it all.

      What the issue is or what actually might be your difficulties doesn't really matter. The only mistake you can make is to not look into it at all and accept what's there. Ask yourself some tough questions. Ask other players if they agree with your assessment of yourself. You talk about your poker strategy, right? Why wouldn't you do the same about your fundamental approach to the game?

      Spend some time thinking about what you are struggling with and what resonates with you. In Part Two I will go into specifics on how to work on each weakness, active and passive, depending on your issues. Because, like anything when it comes to the mental side of poker, we can't think and theorize our way to a solution. We need to actively work for it.

      In part two I will give some examples on how you can do to work on these issues away from the tables and overcome the hurdle or resistance that hesitation to grind creates!

      Good luck at the tables and get your meditation on!

      - Erik
  • 7 replies
    • Padiz0
      Padiz0
      Bronze
      Joined: 29.11.2010 Posts: 580
      Very interesting topic, Erik.

      When I pass through big swings, going breakeven or negative, I tend to hesitate grinding, because I feel I'm kinda not prepared yet to play...I know I'll struggle a lot in the session so I begin to avoid it.
    • Farmarchist
      Farmarchist
      Bronze
      Joined: 27.12.2010 Posts: 14,640
      Really interesting indeed! I recognize a lot of leaks that I have. Looking forward to part 2 and hopefully I can solve some leaks I have :)
    • ErikStenqvist
      ErikStenqvist
      Global
      Joined: 14.01.2013 Posts: 431
      Originally posted by Padiz0
      Very interesting topic, Erik.

      When I pass through big swings, going breakeven or negative, I tend to hesitate grinding, because I feel I'm kinda not prepared yet to play...I know I'll struggle a lot in the session so I begin to avoid it.
      Your warm-up routine will be the tool you use to overcome this. The warm-up will be there to let you go from unmotivated to motivated and eager to get out there. This will be covered with the next video. Until then, practice meditation and do some quick physical exercise and go through what you are supposed to work on for the session. Practice on your own until you get the structure of the video :)
    • serverm07
      serverm07
      Basic
      Joined: 08.08.2012 Posts: 1,130
      "Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?"
      "That is the only time a man can be brave."
    • ErikStenqvist
      ErikStenqvist
      Global
      Joined: 14.01.2013 Posts: 431
      Originally posted by serverm07
      "Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?"
      "That is the only time a man can be brave."
      +1 :s_love:
    • imfromsweden007
      imfromsweden007
      Bronze
      Joined: 11.10.2008 Posts: 726
      I definitely recognized a lot of myself in that article. Made me realize just how underdeveloped my mental side is, I guess I've just completely neglected it for all of my poker career. Only lately have I started to understand just how important that aspect actually is.
    • ErikStenqvist
      ErikStenqvist
      Global
      Joined: 14.01.2013 Posts: 431
      Originally posted by imfromsweden007
      I definitely recognized a lot of myself in that article. Made me realize just how underdeveloped my mental side is, I guess I've just completely neglected it for all of my poker career. Only lately have I started to understand just how important that aspect actually is.
      Bättre sent än aldrig! Se det som att du precis hittade sjukt mycket potentiell edge i ett hörn du aldrig kollat förut!

      Everyone else can just google translate :D