This post is discussing the different reasons why so many Poker players get stuck on the very first few levels on the games they play and never move up. I am writing about my history on the subject as a spin and go player and former MTT grinder. The text is quite long but I hope you will find something to relate on and some tools to look into the process differently in order to make you the best version of yourself. I wrote this a long time ago but I now reworked the text to be even more precise and helpful.
My enlightenment moment in poker.
I have been somewhat “tilt free” for few years but I had a hidden tilt that I was no able to find where it was coming from. But thanks to coaching few years ago and actually one sentence the coach said while discussing things after coaching had ended, gave me enlightenment. He commented on the hands I had picked up for the coaching with a line something like this: – Its almost always when I ask people to pick some marked hands that they show up with the same type of hands you had picked. But luckily there were few interesting ones too.
I had basically picked 90% obvious bad beats. It didn’t hit me right there and then but slowly in the deep pits of unconsciousness this sentence haunted me. Slowly as my cEV/tourney picked up to profitable and I started to win money on the side, the light bulb over my head started to flicker.
Most likely not even knowingly had my coach pointed me to a direction to look for something hidden in plain sight. It was time to study what it was and alas it was rather easy to find too. I was suffering from Dunning-Kruger effect aka Illusory Superiority or as its most common English noun is Lake Wobegon Effect.
Never underestimate your ability to overestimate your ability
Studies have also shown that the more incompetent you are the more blind you are to your Dunning-Kruger. Fortunately I had knowledge due some studies in psychology. Point being: Never underestimate your ability to overestimate your ability. So I dug deep into this some more and started self evaluating my games more. Watching the coaching over and putting more thoughts to the hands I had selected. It was rather obvious that I had unconsciously picked hands that most of the times were played well. Hands that just hit a bad beat before showdown, or they were chosen to show how bad villains are in comparison to hero’s game level. Luckily few of these hands was a borderline game from hero too and had some good conversations during the coaching.
Ego supports illusion
This was the “evil” ego doing its tasks. As ones ego is built to protect the biological mass that carries it around. Eckhart Tolle discusses a lot about ego’s doings and how to get rid of them in his book Power Of Now and also mentioned in the poker “bible” Mental Game Of Poker. So I had not picked the hands on my non existent free will. My ego had picked them for me so it would build support on my Duning-Kruger. So I was also suffering from injustice tilt that was fueled by my ego and Dunning-Kruger: These then again fueled my unconscious decisions on the hand selection.
Working hard to improve in Poker
First I started working on fixing the leaks we discussed on the coaching. From there on just making as simple problem solving patterns as possible that I had learnt from some leadership and mentoring courses. Just putting things into table of left and right and putting the +EV effect on the game.
And slowly things started to make sense and game started to be more and more better while my remaining tilt issues that were created mainly by my Dunning-Kruger Egoistic views were gone. I was starting to move up on the skill level too as I learned new ways to look at the games tad differently as I had gotten in touch with the meta information passed on by the coach.
Don’t let your ego kill your progress
Biggest problem why recreational players “never move up” is that fact that their ego is preventing it from happening. One can make “awesome” plans, usually too complicated and huge, not calculated, not measurable. Plans could actually be awesome with high end goals confirmed with calculations and measurable small tasks leading to the bigger plan’s end. But they never take action in completing them properly. Why because its tons of work and it might hurt their ego in the process of understanding how bad of a players you are while struggling at the micros.
No secret sauce giveaways
One could even take coaching but what I have been reading about people’s posts on different poker forums. They are planning to “take coaching after I move up”. Or don’t take coaching because they don’t see it as investment. What about player who take coaching and don’t proceed? They are waiting on something magical and when coaching can’t deliver that for yo. You just call it not worth it. It is really weird that one would wait for some flawless strategy (done for you) passed during the coaching. In poker we are looking at a game with millions upon millions variables. Variables that are created by mathematical variance. Gameflow, different villains, and so forth also play their part. So there is no golden key the “never move up” players end up with this in their mind
One could even learn something and fix a leak or two but then again settle there and stop working on their game and constantly look for more leaks to fix. Then when variance hits, you explode and burn the money or just cash it out. Been there done that.
Consistency is the key
What recreational stalled players “never realise” that even after coaching and moving on with plans you will hit walls. You will fail, you will loose, you will suffer. You will have to work more and more harder if you start moving up. It’s not a secret really. But also for instance it is something not discussed often. Those who do that labor, hardly talk about it. As it is mainly just grinding HH’s searching leaks from regulars and looking to adjust within the current trends on the field of regulars and adjusting to the current general population.
As one steps into the unknown and starts working for their dreams whether it is poker related or not. They must understand that the comfort zone expands too. It sucks you in sooner or later if you don’t keep marching onwards and deeper into the adventures far ahead.
Do not bluff yourself into failure
For me realisation of my Dunning-Kruger and Ego messing things up was the biggest enlightenment in poker. After I had established how I was cheating myself I was able to step out of that comfort zone and face all the leaks had So on I started grinding the leaks pointed out on the coaching. And with the tools given from the coaching I was able to find more leaks instead just thinking about how some random almost never happening events are my leaks and waste time on trying to locate anything like that with irrelevant impact on games and getting better. I started analyzing my games differently. Looked right in front of me instead gazing into the horizons and worked the table system of evaluating things. I started looking for most repetitive and easy to fix leaks and this was my magic sauce to success.
Fix your social surroundings win in Poker
Also what I did was “surround” my social connections with better players than me. Just ask them around and talk poker as much as possible. Always ignore any negative comments. Especially from people with no idea of the realities of playing poker as a strategy and mathematically beatable game. And worked my butt off.
Feel comfy? Don’t!
So as long as you live in that happy place in your head. I can promise as there is not much “art of talent” in poker not much will ever happen. But as soon as you take a step out and stop being mediocre things will be getting better. It might hurt first. But in the end if you grind and keep grinding towards your goals you will do well. Especially if calculated and measurable plans. And as your comfort zone expands beyond the general population averages there wont be a thought in your mind about turning back as. After some time you wish you’d taken that step a lot earlier. Luckily as long as there is life in you it’s never too late.
If you feel that you are stuck or not getting anywhere even if you put in countless hours of studying etc. Check out your address. As it is you are living in one of the streets in Lake Wobegon and you will need someone to guide you to hell away from there if you don’t know how to.
Never settle in poker or life
So one should never settle for the: Yes I am a midstakes reg. Just work your strategy beat your villains: Find your leaks, find their leaks, adjust and destroy..ez game, hard work. Just get it done or your stuck where ever you are!
Feel even more lost now?
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