Saturday, January 09, 2010


99% Perspiration

Don't get excited, this is nothing to do with Bluescouse. I just wanted to reference the saying that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration in regard to poker.

If I asked you who was the most natural godlike genius in the world of poker then I think the most common answer would be Phil Ivey. It would be my answer. In the latest Million Dollar Cash Game, the producers have somehow managed to squeeze a decent interview out of Ivey that's quite revealing. In it he admitted that when he started playing poker he played "18 hours a day for 3 years - poker was my life".

Funnily enough, 18 hours a day for 3 years comes out damn close to Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour requirement to become world-class in any field. If anyone's playing better than Ivey right now good luck to them - in the first episode of this cash game he played a pretty tough table like his own personal fiddle. Even so, it's well worth remembering that Phil Ivey did not just walk up to a poker table and start owning everybody from Day One. The message that you need intellect and a hell of a lot of hard work to succeed in poker is, fortunately, not one that's ever presented in the poker media. It is massively for the best that instead the media and "TV players" constantly talk up nebulous concepts like "heart" and "reading people", characteristics that new players and fish alike can easily convince themselves that they already have.

As for me, I've taken some time to examine my own game and I think I have patched up a couple of medium-size leaks. It's always good to look for things to change during a dry spell (without changing just for the sake of it) ; when you're running good, just keep doing what you're doing and ship the cheese. When you're not, it can be good for your confidence to take some different ideas into the fray. "Trying them out" helps motivate oneself to keep putting the hours in, even if the new concepts only come into play in a small percentage of hands. Tonight I played my best session for some considerable time, I was really happy with the way I played. Of course I blobbed everything 0/15 for -$3000, but that's variance for you.

I'm off to La Manga this week (screw all this snow crap) ; hopefully I'll still be able to play online in the evenings. I'm sure that might sound a bit sad but if I can put some sessions in and feel that I'm earning money (Sklansky bucks at least) then it'll be a lot easier to justify staying out there for longer, if I like it. We'll see how it goes.

Update 11/1 : If anything I played even better last night, and to prove it I cashed once for $340. Luckily I had a small swap with Neil in the iPoker Million just before I bubbled it. If you can't play well, swap well !

Thanks Dan !

All sorted.

By my calculation, 18hrs a day for three years comes out to much more than 10,000 hours.

e.g. Five days a week on average for fifty weeks a year = 18 X 5 X 50 X 3 = 13,500

Separately, if he really was playing 18 hours a day, then surely for quite a lot of this time he would have been exhausted. It only allows him six hours to travel home, sleep, wash etc before getting back to the game! How much can you improve when you are playing under this level of fatigue?
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