Lessons from the Tables: Things I think every poker player should know

Posted by

Posted by posted in Poker Journals

Lessons from the Tables: Things I think every poker player should know

“I should have a blog on Run It Once.” There comes a time in every aspiring poker player’s career where they sit, stare wistfully out of the window and have that thought. Today, I join those ranks. With misty eyes and enthusiasm by the boatload, we’ll see if we can make this one as enjoyable and useful as the ones by Freenachos, MatoStar, Marinelli and the like. Small steps, Chris, SMALL. STEPS.

My main intention of this blog is to bring value to the poker community. Yes, I will chronicle my own journey in the world of poker; but constant general musings about my own game would verge on self-indulgent. Instead, thinking about how my poker journey can be used, broken down and articulated in a way that makes it relevant and valuable to other players – now that’s something I’m interested in.

I’ve broken the rest of this post down into sections to signpost where we’re going with each part.

Who am I?

I’ll start by introducing myself. I’m Chris, I’m 31 and I am based in the U.K. I gained the nickname ‘ShockedChris’ relatively early in my poker career because of my propensity to be flabbergasted by every. single. thing. that happened in a poker hand. I quite liked the name as it captures my personality traits of being expressive and enthusiastic, so it ended up sticking.

Who this blog is for

Before I really start breaking down the stuff I think has been fundamental to my poker career so far, I want to briefly address who I think this blog and these posts will be aimed at. I’ve put a fair bit of thought into this and I feel like the person who I could most valuably write for is the type of player I was 12-18 months ago. The player who had been playing poker for a while, took it very seriously, cared extraordinary amounts but was still breaking even at their current stake (25nl and 50nl). I was just about profitable after rakeback. If you are currently treading water at 25nl-100nl, then I’m writing to you.

Today, I play 100nl as my main stake and I am starting to play 200nl more and more regularly (I actually played around 35 hands on a particularly soft 500nl table a few weeks ago - insert ‘I’m kind of a big deal’ gif). If you’re currently playing at 100nl and 200nl then I have no doubt this blog will bring value to you as well but it may well be from a perspective of “yeah, I know how that feels.” If you’re playing 500nl+, enjoy the ride and know that one day I’d love to be sat at a table playing poker with you.

Breaking through the stakes

It is always going to be hard to move up to any stake from the stakes you are at. The money is bigger, the regs are tougher and the fish are either better or not as common. In my experience, though, one of the biggest jumps in difficulty is between 25nl/50nl and 100nl. 100nl is where you start getting players who are playing to put food on their table – they’re out here playing for a living. It therefore makes sense for it to be one of the bigger leaps in poker in terms of skill, experience and grit.

I have been fortunate enough to make that leap. A lot of what I write about here will be focused on the things I have learned in the last 12-18 months. The things that worked. The things that took me across that line to establishing myself at 100nl. I have waited until I have started to play 200nl before writing any of this because I wanted to be confident in myself that I am writing about things that have brought value to me on my journey - things that have ensured that I am firmly on the right path.

The good news

Here's some good news - I am not the best poker player you’ll come across. The stories I write won’t be about how I went from 200nl to 2knl in 6 months (maybe I will actually? Who knows. We can dream). They won’t be about how I never missed a shot before I got to 500nl. They won’t be about how I ‘came up’ in the golden era where everything below 1knl was a fishpond.

And that’s valuable.

I know what it’s like to constantly miss shots, I know what it’s like to think you’re winning, go on a 30BI downswing and think all is lost. I know what it’s like to feel like this game is just determined to beat us down until we throw in the towel. And, thankfully, I now know how to build a roadmap to help us get through that as best we can. My purpose with this blog is to give you the tools to do that too.

Bringing you up to speed

In terms of my poker history, I started playing poker in December 2020. Before then, I had never played a hand of poker in my life. I wasn’t sure if a flush beat a straight and I likely would have thought having 5 cards of the same colour was some sort of made hand. I was that bad. So if you’re reading this and you think you’re bad at poker, I was worse. Trust me.

I spent my first few months playing at the heady heights of 2nl and 5nl reg tables on PokerStars. For those of you wondering, yes the real fish play on reg tables. I had no idea what “Zoom” was. At the same time, however, I was absolutely and completely trying to immerse myself into the poker community (I’ll likely write a more detailed post on this at some point). I was watching YouTube videos, listening to Podcasts, reading blogs, finding people I liked, finding people I aspired to be like and so on.

My first, and maybe biggest stroke of luck, came about 3 months in where I watched a podcast with Pete Clarke as a guest. At the time, Pete was extremely focused on the theoretical side of poker and it made total sense to me that as someone who was completely new to the game, trying to understand the fundamental theoretical building blocks had to be the first step – I’ll likely write about this too; but any exploitative strategy (and we should play an exploitative strategy) is grounded in theory – so if you want to be good at exploiting, you gotta understand the theory.

I decided to pull the trigger and start getting some coaching early in my career. I thought why wait until I’ve learnt all the bad habits before learning the better ones, an approach that has paid dividends – but don’t worry if you have a lot of uninstalling and relearning to do. That’s extremely common and I've seen plenty of people conquer that particular challenge.

My Twitch debut

After a bit of coaching (3 lessons), in around March 2021, Pete asked in his discord whether anyone had any ideas of poker content they’d like to see on his channel. I decided to pitch him an idea in private where he would coach me on his Twitch channel. To his credit, he immediately saw the appeal and loved the idea. The concept of taking a brand new poker player and attempting to build their foundations live on a Twitch stream was unbelievably exciting to us both. We agreed to do weekly sessions focused mainly around me playing (entertainment) and him coaching (value for me and the viewers). I’ll now sound like Troy McClure; but you may well know me from Coaching Chris. If you don’t, it was a blast. We did it every week for about 18 months and it is one of my favourite parts of my poker journey. One surreal moment that stands out is when BenABadBeat (a player I have huge respect for) swung by the stream to watch a couple of times and I felt like a tennis novice who just had Djokovic turn up at his training.

I still do stream on Carrot Corner with Pete, so keep an eye out if you’ve never come across it. However, given the progress I have made, the format is now less of an intense coaching vibe and more discussion-based.

And that was the start of everything.

What’s next

I’m conscious of how long this post is becoming; but it was important to explain in some detail how I got started in this game.

The rest of my poker journey can be explained more briefly and will likely be the focus of future posts. In short, it includes a whole lot of consistency, hard work, volume, studying, setbacks, a brilliant study group, a solid poker community and, genuinely, an insatiable drive to understand this game as best as I can. How far I will go is yet to be seen. 100nl for a long time was the ‘Castle on the Hill’ for me, so to now be getting beyond that is something that I am excited by – some might even say I’m shocked by it.

That’s it for intros. Let’s get to work.

Loading 12 Comments...

Be the first to add a comment

You must upgrade your account to leave a comment.

This thread has been locked. No further comments can be added.

Runitonce.com uses cookies to give you the best experience. Learn more about our Cookie Policy