Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Bounce (2)

The real message Matthew Syed is trying to put across in Bounce [1], as I understand it, is how we under-rate the benefits of focused, motivated practice. Hard work. Grind. I have come to realise that for about a year, from September last year to this, I was trying to cruise in poker, making no effort to improve and blaming lack of results on bad luck or the game getting tougher.

I was (and still am if I slip back) in danger of becoming like one of the live pros who were overtaken by the "internet generation". I always felt that they had no one to blame but themselves. Young players came in and devoured the game, they lived for it, players like Durr and Galfond, or Mercier and Elky in tournaments. Starting from scratch they were able to overtake the "old school" remarkably quickly, partly because online poker allows you to play so many more hands per hour, per day, per month.

The thing is though, what was stopping the old school from working just as hard, starting off a long way forward of scratch? Taking the experience they had and building on it with the same focus and determination? Taking what they knew and playing 200 hands an hour online from that base? Complacency and laziness. In other words, nothing. There was no reason why any of them couldn't do what Ivey did, but it was easier to cash the sponsorship cheque and cruise. It's also very easy to say "Oh, Ivey's some kind of supernatural genius, no one else could do that." I wonder who else tried?

That may sound overly critical but I apply it to myself over the last year too. Now I'm making an effort to find and fix leaks in my own game and I've been shocked how many I have found (and am still finding). The problem is it is very hard, in tournaments, to gauge progress because actual $ results are so random. I am trying to find ways to measure how effective my play is outside of just the bottom line. It's not easy but HEM is a big help and there are some tools in there that you can use if you're very careful with them - all-in adjusted EV for example.

As I mentioned in a thread on 2+2 a few days ago, this has also helped with my motivation. It's a positive feedback loop. I have new lines to try and new things to remember - it's very easy to think of something you should be doing, do it for a couple of days, but even if it goes well you forget and move on to the next new trick. I keep a record of the points I should be remembering and mistakes I shouldn't be making, as recommended by Jared Tendler in his book.

As for the bottom line it has been going OK but nothing spectacular. Then again, that's partly due to two or three bad mistakes at final tables, spots where I just did what I always do and what I thought everyone else did, but when I analysed them later I could see how they were wrong. And those are the mistakes that can really cost you $$$. If I can fix those then I'm confident that I can go on an uptick over the next couple of months.

[1] In the first section anyway, the second and third are also interesting but have different themes.

There was I thinking failures were down to boks.
You see? You give yourself too much credit for natural talent :)
hope it's the same book, amazon
US has a different title.
The US title is Bounce: Mozart,Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success, but it does seem to be the same book. Thanks for the pointer, it was a good read that emphasizes and documents some things I guess I already had in mind somewhat.
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