Road To High Stakes/Poker/The Big Overview

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

The Big Overview

So, here we go. The last two months were very interesting. My mental game seems to have come on a lot. I don't tilt very often at all, and have a positive relationship with money, time and poker. Not every day is perfect, but I find bad emotional performance days are few and far between, which is nice. This makes sessions easier to launch because emotional volatility is consistent, even in tough personal times. I owe this to intense study of the mental game of poker in my early career and continuous meditation at least once per day (target of twice) over the last year.

But we live in a world where distractions and a lack of presence are often surrounding us. I have noticed myself being way less present with my phone over the last two months, and usage has gone up >100%. I worked hard over the Spring and Summer of 2021 to significantly reduce my phone and screen time, and it has pretty much converged back to what it was before. I need to stay on it and be aware of the unhealthy nature of social media and over-dependence on tech because it's constantly fighting back. This may explain a lack of rest and recovery that has led to fewer sessions played.

All in all, though, I'm extremely happy with my performances in the big moments. I really relish them and love the occasion of putting myself up against other players. There are not many times when I finish below the position in which I start the FT on, and my ability to close out/ dominate tourneys when I am 1st/2nd has improved significantly. Planning how, why, and where to exploit various opponent types has helped a lot.

As practice for this, I worked on playing some Heads Up to delve deeper into specific weaknesses within the opponent's games and how to exploit them practically. Essentially you must be ready at any point to profile players by testing them, analyse what they are likely to do (and why), and run through specific details on how to execute your game plan. This is no different from any sport - boxing being a great example. What you are doing is constantly pressurising the players into showing you what they can do and why they do it, using the most calculated approach possible where you take minor damage in the process (either to your stack or to your face). Then you figure out how you're going to win and be ready to go the full length of the tournament. If nothing else, I know they will tire before me.

So in the more recent wins, it feels a lot like I am jabbing my opponents all the time with my RFI and c-bets in the right places. This is also accompanied by not getting hit often (not losing big pots). Sure I’ll take a punch occasionally and lose 3-7 bbs, but I won't take a big haymaker. I always picture Floyd Mayweather, the most intelligent boxer maybe to ever live, as my role model. He knows how to attack and defend against specific opponents so well, and important when and why to do it. He also is winning most of the matches just because he grinds his opponents down with subtle strengths and they eventually crumble. Poker is no different than boxing in that way.

I can't tell you how many guys have crumbled under constant pressure. Of course they will, it's mid-stakes tournament poker! So I prepare myself for a long session, make the most out of my breaks, and constantly plan and write down a plan. Having the plan and the capability to play the Semis/FT for hours also gives you a great idea of the risk/reward of your play now, essentially measuring your future game for you.

Mr Mayweather didn't risk only having to win fights because he was so hard to beat. So hard to beat that he never lost. Now, that doesn't mean in poker that you naturally nit up, and don't play a bloody hand. It means you develop a strong, well-rounded game plan and a strategy to execute. So dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge. Throw your RFI jabs - see how they respond. Test your opponents in a controlled way that means you don't get hit by an aggro fish throwing haymakers.

And if you do get hit, channel your inner Tyson Fury.

Good luck and love to everyone <3 x