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How to get better at poker when you are . . . erm . . . not so bright.

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  • How to get better at poker when you are . . . erm . . . not so bright.

    Yes . . It is another frustrated amateur poker player rant . . . Stop reading now if you don’t need to read another. But at the bottom of this I pose a specific question.

    Some background:

    - I have been playing for about 6 years.
    - I have been getting coaching from a very good coach (referred from this site) for about 1 year. It has helped a ton.
    - I put in about 7 hours of study per week in poker. One hour, every night. Study includes reading books (20%), reviewing hands (50%), watching training videos (30%).
    - I am a US player living in a state that makes it almost impossible to play online. However I do have an online account on a site that is fairly unknown. I play almost every evening. The selection of tourneys suck . . . but it is what I got.
    - I play about 30 live tourneys per year I would estimate. I am at the WSOP for several weeks every year.
    - I am horrible. Just horrible. Much more horrible live. I am lucky to cash more than 1 out 14 times. And it is almost always a min cash. Online I have about a +15% ROI. Thankfully, I have a steady income. LOL I live near Maryland Live so live play is readily available.
    - I have been playing tournaments only. I find cash play a little dull.

    The level of frustration is getting unbearable. I just am not getting something. And I think that something is a very basic concept the separates good players from bad. I class myself as a very timid tight passive player. ESPECIALLY LIVE. I have gone two hours in a tourney without playing a single hand expect the BB.

    I really do not want to give up. But I am now convinced that despite the fact that I was able to work hard enough to earn advanced degrees; that I have a poker learning disability. (For lack of a better term).

    My goal: I would like to play poker with confidence & skill. I don’t think I will ever find it fun unless I reach this level. Associated problem: I have a bit of OCD. I CANNOT just give up. I just can’t. I find it hard to believe that I can’t figure this out. I just need to . . . well . . . figure it out.

    Question: Suggestions on alternative ways of getting there because what I am doing just isn’t doing it alone.

  • #2
    Are you a man of God? If you are than making the transition to a better player is easy. Believing in the math. Is the same as believing in God. You have to have faith!

    At the low stakes, nuanced play, having balance and sophisticated reads are secondary to the math. So if you master only 1 skill, master the math and trust that over the long run, it will all work out fine. Forget the inner doubt and uncomfortable feeling that make you question taking the right move and act. In time you will see positive results. Sure along the way there will be setbacks and bad runs this is normal variance that will go back the other way. Write down key hands and make sure that you are building a correct and proper discipline. In time the you can learn and add nuanced play to your skill set.


    • #3
      1) Stop being a NIT. It's not 2005 anymore and it doesn't work any longer. (I am a reformed nit)
      2) By Jonathan's book - bluffs. It will help.
      3) Join It will really help you start thinking about each situation. It will be cheaper than the money already invested.

      Poker is a game of decisions. Developing habits to improve your decision making at the table is what you need to improve. Learning and playing by rules is a way of avoiding the decision making process yourself. This is many intermediate level players attempt to do. They want rules. What do I do with AK when player A does this. You cannot play by rules as each decision is different from the last. This is what I teach my students. A teacher cannot teach you what to do with JJ, but they can teach you how to start making better decisions so you can think at the table.


      • #4
        Thanks for the replies so far. I think they have merit.

        With regard to Nitting it up . . . This is absolutely true . . . My problem . . . There is a spectrum. With NIT on one far side and being an exploding ATM machine at the other. Somewhere in between is the line of being a good, aggressive, active player. For the life of me, I am not sure where that line is. And that is giving me fits. This may be the exact heart of my problem. I am not sure. Is there a 12 step program so I can be a reformed nit?

        With regard to rules: Correct again. This one I actually figured out myself about a year ago. It took 5 years to figure it out. So I am slow. LOL.

        Math: In a prior life I was a mechanical engineer. I still hate math but I am comfortable with it.


        • #5
          You may be being a bit hard on yourself. If you have 15% ROI online you are doing better than a large proportion of players.

          Playing 30 live tournaments a year is a small sample.

          Say every live tournament has 100 entrants, how often should we expect to win. If everybody has the same skill then you will win one out of 100. If Ivey is twice as good as anybody else he will win 1 out of 50.

          In daily tournaments you will not be able to practise the skills necessary for bigger tournaments. The blinds go up too quickly and very soon every one is short stacked.

          Play your local $1-$2 cash game as practise for tournaments. On the first day of the WSOP main event you will see a lot of people who are not a lot different from the $1-$2 players.

          You have a lot of the characteristics required to be an excellent player, determined, disciplined, study poker, and a touch of OCD is probably a prerequisite.

          Start scheduling regular $1-$2 cash sessions as part of your training program, yes they are duller than tournaments, which are tense and exciting as we get near the money.

          How do we make the cash sessions more interesting? Treat them as a puzzle. Observe each player, figure out how he approaches poker. At a nine handed table we are playing eight separate games. Each player has a completely different idea of how poker should be played. Start by assuming that each player is not going to be playing as you play.

          I am assuming that $1 - $2 is well within your means, so be adventurous, experiment with a play that you think might work against a particular player. If it doesn't work, just shrug it off, don't beat yourself up, the experiment served a purpose. By treating it as fun you will learn to open up your game.

          Oh and don't be prejudiced about your opponents, just because a player is bad at poker does not make him a bad person. This is important, because putting in the hours is more enjoyable if you get to like the bad, spazzy players, after all these are the players who eventually will be funding your tournament entry fees. Some players are mean spirited about other players, this ends up defeating them.

          Quite a few players do not play small stakes with the intention of making money, they want to play their way and they think "screw the text books". Mind you quite a few have never done a minute of poker study, unless we think watching "Poker After Dark" is study. These types of video programs have produced a whole generation of bad players, so keep an open mind.
          Last edited by Patrick O; 03-28-2017, 09:16 AM.


          • #6
            Hi JinnRex,

            i wanted to help you to improve , but i going to be harsh to you. Poker is a game of strongest survive, strong in term of what ?

            Skill- reading skill , range , maths , to understand table dynamic , find opponent leak
            IQ do play a part but its not everything
            confident - very very important.

            when you refer yourself not so bright , what do you mean by bright? you cant understand simple poker maths after playing 7 years?
            you dont have the discipline to sit down to play better starting hand?

            when you dont even have the confident to be better then other player how can you win especially in live game. live game cash game is a different breed then online.
            online game need alot of poker fundamental and villain with the huds are playing your stats to exploit you they are playing the stat and poker fundamental, since you are engineer you should understand what i am saying here , basically they find stat , spot where player is unbalance and try to exploit it no human can be 100% balance in all spot in so many different kind of situation.

            in live game basically , you should be giving out alot of tell maybe because of your lack of confident to bluff , lack of confident to exploit the player etc
            you need to make sure you have a healthy bankroll , secondly learn to trust your instinct , your own read and maths.

            e.g if you find one player keep folding to you when you have bigs hand try add in bluff when headsup with this villain again.
            e.g villain will always call you down lighly then you have to keep value them , maybe value them light.

            you have to know and find out your error whats your problem
            learn to adjust to the table adjust to the villain and not 100% stick to rule.

            first understand the rule , need to understand the why then you can change and adapt according .

            maybe one more step i can help you improve, start off by learn to play Tight aggressive poker, and not tight passive poker. passive give you only one way to win the hand, aggressive you two way to take the hands down.


            • #7
              I am going to repeat one of JJ's suggestions: buy the book "Bluffs" and then use some $100 live tournaments to practice a few specific concepts.
              One of my weaknesses is, I know I am not aggressive enough but couldn't seem to figure out WHERE to increase aggression.
              After reading through "Bluffs" several times, I played a couple of tournaments at the Venetian last week using the simple three-bet strategy,
              "Three bet with your very strong hands AND your hands not quite good enough to call with."
              This led me to three bet hands that I would have folded previously. The results were amazing and the game was much more fun.
              Of course there's more to it than than but the point is you can introduce new concepts into your game one at a time and gradually build your arsenal of weapons.


              • #8
                This has been very helpful. Thank you. BTW . . . . Bluffs is now on order from Amazon