Poker is chockfull of bad beats, coolers, and variance. This happens to you, it happens to me, it happens to everyone. I don’t care if your name is Danny Negreanu or Danny Nobody—you will lose hands. Lots and lots of hands.
Separating actual bad play and decisions (that you control) from just the variance of the game (that you can’t control) can be challenging for a new player. But it’s something you need to work on. You can lose and whine, or you can lose and learn. Let me explain…
“There are two types of pain you will suffer in life: the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tonnes.” —Jim Rohn
This quote resonates with me for a number of reasons. It’s applicable to many aspects of life, including health, work, relationships— and of course poker. I was reminded of this fact a while ago when I heard from an old poker-playing friend whom I hadn’t spoken to in months. My friend sent an email congratulating me on something I had done in my career that was big and noteworthy. But then my friend went on about his own “plans” for the future. I had inspired him, he said, and now he was going to do something with his own life.
Sounds good, right?
I wish. Let me explain…
A few months ago I was approached by a blog reader who wanted some coaching. This happens frequently. I don’t actively advertise or promote my coaching services, as I primarily pick up students on referral, word of mouth, or via cold calls/emails like this one. To protect the guilty, this email came from someone I’m going to simply refer to as Mister-Z.
“If you look back at a ‘good session’ and think you’ve only made 1-2 mistakes, frankly… you’re being delusional.” -@PhilGalfond
I want you to re-read the quote above and seriously think about what Phil Galfond is saying. Don’t worry, I’ll wait while you do so.
There are a large number of teaching models that educational experts have devised for learning new skills and abilities. One of the most popular of these is known as the Kolb “Experiential” Learning Model. This system incorporates four distinct iterative phases or steps that a student takes when learning a new skill: 1) Concrete Experience; 2) Observation & Reflection; 3) Conceptualizing; and 4) Active Preparation for the next Concrete Experience.
(click image to enlarge)
eXceptional Poker Tip: Table Select
Professional Winning Players Table Select. Why Aren’t You?
Can’t spot the sucker? It’s
probably you. Yes, you.
In the long-run, poker is a game of skill. It’s also about making money. Combined, these two facts should scream at you to walk away from tough tables with expert players. Go search out better opportunities. Find softer tables with weaker players. If you want to consistently win money at this game, you have to learn to pick your battles. To illustrate why, let’s think about another skill game: golf.
Image that you’re a pretty decent amateur duffer with a single digit handicap number. You’ve paid your green fee and you’re waiting at the clubhouse for some other walk-ins to join you for a round. Two other players eventually show up and join your group. One of these players is a guy you recognize from the last club event, which he won handily, shooting well under par and taking home the trophy. The other player is also someone you’ve seen play before, and he’s significantly worse than you, with a double-digit handicap.
Both players ask if you’d like to wager on the straight-up outcome of the upcoming 18 holes. You’ve only got enough cash in your wallet to take on one of these bets. Think you should take the wager with the first guy or the second?
If it’s this obvious what to do in golf, why is it so damn hard for you to make the same “d’uh” choice in the skill game of poker? Take a little time and table select the next time you want to play poker for money. Don’t be the sucker.
X-Tip Bottom Line: Don’t Play With Better Players If You Don’t Have To.
I received the following email question from long-time reader Andrew:
“Hello Bug– I’m not sure there’s a good answer to this question related to win rate, because the universally accepted and most accurate way to track it is bb/100 or PTbb/100. However, I’ll ask anyway. At the micros, how often should a steady winner expect to make a profit in each session?“