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#25 Some Thoughts on Poker

This blog evolved far beyond my original intention. What I created to share some of the opinions I had about performance as it relates to poker, became a sandbox for me to practice my creative writing, articulate the abstract thoughts in my head into concise ideas, ask myself questions that I became forced to dig for an answer to…

I sit here reflecting on almost a year of absence from the poker world professionally, almost half the time that this blog has been active. I continued as I set myself the intention of making 25 posts, and it was something that needed to be followed through with.

“If you know the way broadly you will see it in everything” – Miyamoto Musashi

I continued to play poker through the years, no matter how devastating the downswing, or how close I came to being broke with nowhere to stay. What kept me going each time was both a carrot and a stick: The carrot being the knowledge that every time I experienced pain (almost daily), I was learning, about myself, life, strategy, games, business, combat, psychology, trauma, risk, all through poker. Most people who haven’t dedicated themselves deeply to a single practice cannot understand how a game such as poker translates to learning universal lessons.

Money, materialistic goods, and status are all things that cannot truly contribute to happiness in our lives. We can deduce this through a proof of contradiction. Assume they make life better; the assumption would be that happiness, fulfilment and peace of mind go up with net worth. This doesn’t happen, as happiness correlates with a household net worth of ~$100k/year.

What is the purpose of life, beyond expanding self-actualization?

To access higher states of self-actualization, our consciousness must become free.

For our consciousness to become free, we must know more about life than we did yesterday.

The disciplines we dedicate ourselves to provide us with a platform to focus our individual growth.

Pain is a prerequisite for growth.

Reframing the pain and discomfort in the actions that I take in my life as a positive, and knowing how the suffering is moving me closer to my goals while understanding the lessons within the pain, is the biggest lesson I have learnt in 2024.

“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering” – Friedrich Nietzsche

This is the reason why I retired from poker: I had my first large downswing in February 2023 which I felt nothing for. No drive to dig deep or ask myself how to come back stronger. This wasn’t normal. I had never experienced apathy towards my discomfort like that. After months of travelling in the United States and meditating on this, I realized that it was a pursuit that no longer served me: I learnt the lessons that I needed to, and it was time to find a new avenue to channel my constructive energy.

I have since found that in the business world and I am working more hours per week than I ever thought I could muster. I wake up early, eat a shit sandwich, go to bed late, repeat. Every day. My days are filled with stress and pressure, but it seems to have no impact on my peace of mind. It gives me purpose. I am learning my discipline an order of magnitude faster than in poker.

In a car, we don’t feel speed, only acceleration.
In life, we don’t feel knowledge, only growth.

I would like to give some personal thanks:

Jason Su: For not teaching me how to listen to my intuition, you did something of far greater value. You allowed me to find these answers within myself.

Pierre and Lari: For being shining role models of disciplined high performers.
Kenan: For being a rare person I can trust to be 100% real with me.

Jeff Brayner: For always backing me from low stakes to high stakes. It’s been a pleasure to watch you climb along with your hard work.

Anthony and Marcello: For demonstrating you can live a balanced life whilst in the throes of poker.

Erik: For being a great supporter and someone that I could give back to after having so much generosity handed my way.

Nick Howard: For being honest with compassion, and giving me some of the highest leverage perspective upgrades in the most desperate times.

I will continue my writing endeavours, about topics that presently engage me. I may post them elsewhere, or I may keep them private.

Maybe the greatest value of all from this project is the cognitive time capsule that now exists from a moment in my life when I was a different person.

April 21, 2024 | 11:30 p.m.

#24 Some Thoughts on Not Having Anything To Say

I’ve been trying to write an article for the best part of a year. It’s not easy to draw creative inspiration from a pursuit that no longer excites you, nor is it even a part of my life anymore.

It’s hard to accept not having anything valuable to offer, as that is where I derive a lot of my value from in life: by the value I provide others. Why is internal value so hard to manifest?

Trying to be ok with not having anything of value to add to the conversation.

Musicians know this struggle more than anyone (hot take incoming). Guns ‘n’ Roses write Appetite For Destruction, one of the greatest rock records of all time. And they said what they wanted to say. And then they release Chinese Democracy. And we all hated it.

I feel like a stranger in my own blog.

I have some conclusive thoughts for next time, but my original goal was to write 25 posts here and I try to be a man of my word, because without that, I am nothing.

April 7, 2024 | 8:44 p.m.

#23 Some Thoughts on “The Thing”

“Do the thing” – Chris Williamson

What is the thing? You know what the thing is. The thing is what you need to do. It’s what your avoiding, procrastinating, delaying, dreaming about, hoping for, talking about, what gives you purpose, what gives you money, what gives you freedom. So why aren’t you doing the thing?
I abstract work into different categories that I will order in importance of doing:

• Non-relevant but urgent work (Not the thing and not related to the thing but is getting in the way of your life enough that you must address this)
• Primary work (The thing)
• Secondary work (Not the thing but a precursor to the thing, related to the thing, or makes doing the thing easier/better)
• Non-relevant tasks (Not the thing)

The only time we should do work that is not related to the thing is when it is an urgent matter or important for our overall life. Examples: Getting your car serviced, dealing with a breakdown at home, helping a friend in need, doing your taxes.

Primary work is the doing of the thing. Spend as much time here as possible to actually get the most return. Example: Playing poker.

Secondary work examples: Studying a node that will boost your winrate, sleep schedule, eating healthy, networking with other poker players, calculating your BRM.

Non-relevant tasks: Running random sims, discussing micro details on a specific hand history, talking about wanting to play more, talking about wanting to study more.

This is not a check list where you work through each bullet point until completion, but each category has a constant influx of new items on the agenda that you can choose to work on. Instead, you try and delegate what percentage of your time you should be spending in each category and aiming to hit that.

Now we can see how productivity hacks are merely tools in our arsenal that can align us to spending the amount of time doing the thing, not a magic wand that will make the thing be done at your wish. Learning about productivity tools are at best secondary work (they aren’t the thing but they make us more effective at doing the thing) and at worst, a non-relevant task (intellectual wankery that gives us the illusion of hard work without providing any value). Productivity is not productivity if it isn’t increasing the quantity or quality of your time in primary work.

If you are avoiding primary work, general productivity hacks are about restructuring your day to enable you to spend more time in primary work. If they aren’t, it’s not productive.

If you are still avoiding primary work, clarify your visions and goals for the primary work (the why to the what).

If you are still avoiding primary work, then you may have to assess why you even value that work in the first place. If you don’t, then you may realize your purpose and goals are not aligned anymore. Sit down, go deep into your mind and ask yourself what you are really avoiding when you avoid doing the thing. Because it’s never the thing you’re avoiding, it’s your demons.

Here's a list of things that are not doing the thing

June 30, 2023 | 9:28 a.m.

Got any tips for soliciting harsh truths out of people?

High integrity friends helps. Also, knowing how to tactfully look out for your own friends and project the type of communication you want others to have with you.

June 17, 2023 | 8:02 p.m.

#22 Some Thoughts on Taking Criticism

When we develop our poker skills, push new PR’s at the gym, learn public speaking, or read a new book, any form of self-improvement takes our current model of reality and changes it to make it more accurate.

When I understood this, every decision in my life got filtered through the lens of: “will this make me see reality more accurately?”

My biggest moments of growth in my life have come from two areas: Intense competition or someone close to me giving me a reality check.

Intense competition creates defined constraints for success and failure with harsh consequences. Far harder to rationalize your mistakes when you fail in the spotlight.

Every so often, someone close to you will give you tough love on something you are doing poorly. Think back to when someone sat you down and told you “I love you, but this thing you're doing is unacceptable”. If you’re available to the lesson there, it provides a powerful jump pad to upgrade your reality.

Value those people because most aren’t invested enough in you or don’t care enough to provide that harsh truth.

If you’re the type of person who gets defensive at any form of criticism, people aren’t going to waste their time giving you harsh truths. In this way, your personality is preventing your personal growth. Ironically, these are the people who need reality checks more than most.

People will respect you if you can provide harsh truths to them in a sensitive way that doesn’t humiliate or shame them. And you should never be upset at someone who delivers harsh truth to you in the same way.

What was a memorable “harsh truth” that someone gave you, that changed the way you think?

Feb. 20, 2023 | 3:10 p.m.

#21 Some Thoughts on Learning The Hard Way

Reading is an important skill to cultivate to accelerate your growth. You are gifted insights that may have taken a man a lifetime to discover. You are privy to the catastrophic mistakes of generals and politicians and can learn how to better react than your predecessors. Whenever possible, we should learn from mistakes by observation, and dodge the unnecessary pain of an avoidable mistake. It’s not possible to always do this though. To live a life of perfect execution isn’t possible.

To assume that we can learn every mistake through study is contingent on 2 presumptions: That every conceivable mistake has been made throughout history and subsequently documented, and that you have studied and integrated the knowledge of this collection.
You may learn a strategic concept through study, integrate it and assure that you’re now more resilient in this area of the game. But you don’t know what you don’t know. Facing punishment for a mistake you are making under in-game stress causes a more powerful desire to overcome that problem.

The region-beta paradox states that if someone is currently in a mediocre romantic relationship, they will be less likely to end it to find an excellent relationship than if their current relationship was worse, thus making their present situation worse overall.

The pain that a disastrous mistake inflicts can act as rocket fuel, propelling you to new heights.

Sometimes you’ve got to lose $20k and a part of your mind to completely re-evaluate your game, and reach new levels you weren’t able to previously.

Feb. 14, 2023 | 4:52 p.m.

Yes, I know a handful, but it's important to note that these guys were very hard, independent workers.

They used the strategy upgrades that they gained within the CFP to bolster their own study. A lot of people are looking for a coaching panacea, and those are the ones that will never get what they desire, because they expect someone else to always do the work.

Feb. 1, 2023 | 3:40 p.m.

"I played some 500. Won some money. It's like 200 except you raise to $15 instead of $6 pre."

Yeah, pretty much haha

Feb. 1, 2023 | 12:15 p.m.

#20 Some Thoughts on Insanity

"No one can live without being able to explain to themselves what is happening to them, and if one day they should no longer be able to explain anything to themselves, they would say they had gone mad"

A big skill difference between a high-stakes and low-stakes player is the accuracy to which they can identify when they’re running bad and when they’re playing bad. Or when they got coolered and when they may have made a mistake. These blurred lines are a source of confusion, and I’ve seen a lot of players err on the side of accountability. This isn’t a bad quality to have, but it’s misplaced when you start taking accountability for a mistake that doesn’t exist.

This has a compounding effect when we tend to attach negative emotions to our mistakes. It’s common to project feelings of shame, guilt, anger and confusion onto the mistakes that we make, as the mistakes serve as evidence of our own insufficiency. As emotionally taxing as it is to project these emotions on our legitimate mistakes, now we are adding to this by taking accountability for running bad, and projecting our negative emotions on this.
This is a mental game issue that can actually be partially fixed through study. As our understanding of the game becomes more accurate, we can better discern between when we were coolered and when we may have made a big mistake, not to mention making fewer mistakes overall. This reduces the frequency of these events but it doesn’t reduce the intensity when it does happen.

However you may process your mistakes in-game, it’s of paramount importance that you don’t feel shame for your actions. Shame can materialize as anger or guilt, and this will keep your nervous system in a highly aroused state, preventing you from authentically feeling and processing the emotions you’re going through. Perpetually staying in a highly aroused state only reinforces an environment where we pile more pressure on ourselves to perform at an unrealistic level, then we fail, feel shame and the cycle continues…

Jan. 26, 2023 | 1:49 p.m.

You can't choose to go into your kingdom and build in your own free time, otherwise you would fortify your defences and build your roads in a mode of comfort. Instead, anytime you are under mental stress, you are teleported to this place. You can become overwhelmed by the elements and freeze, or you can build resilience when you are there.

When you encounter a 20BI downswing, you may experience a strong stress response. If you are conscious, you can go into your kingdom and build your defences. Now, the next time time you face a 20BI downswing, you have resources at your disposal because you've mapped out the territory of what this "threat" feels like. You start to callous your mind to these stimuli.

"Your only tool is a pen"
I experienced grief for the first time in my life in 2022. When you experience a brand new stressor, you are teleported to a part of your mind you have never explored. I had no resources to handle what I was feeling and I felt emotionally exposed, but I could take out my pen and at the least, document what I was experiencing.

Jan. 23, 2023 | 2:28 p.m.

#19 Some Thoughts on Building Your Kingdom

6 weeks in, and I’m stepping on the mats but this time it’s different. Just the day before I told coach that I want to fight. “If you’re telling me you want to fight, then you’re ready to fight”. He speaks with a perspective that I can see but not feel. Sometimes it’s better to package all of your fears and worries into a steel box of trust, seal it shut, tie it with a bowtie of faith and hand it to your coach for safekeeping. He knows better than you that you will abuse the power of being absorbed by your fears. One day you may find yourself in a situation that is truly terrible, and only then will your coach recognize when you should be worried, and only then will he allow you to open that box.

It's my first sparring session. If you want to fight, you have to simulate the fight. Run it over and over and build pattern recognition for any scenario you may find yourself in. I’m turning my back, flinching, running away, taking damage from all directions. I’m overwhelmed so much that it doesn’t even seem fair. The first level of improvement in any performance arena is always to learn how to relax under pressure. You will never be able to think about high-level strategy if you are panicking about the thought of being punched in the face. First, learn that you can get hit with a left hook and you’ll be ok.

This level of relaxation comes from exposure to the same types of stress. The more you expose yourself to stressful stimuli, you deepen your understanding of what that state feels like. What flavour does this type of performance stress taste of? It’s an entire country deep within your mind, hidden by lock and key. You’re thrust there as a nomad only under the influence of stress, but there’s no map, no roads, no safety structures, no towns, no potable water. Your only tool is a pen. Each time you’re under the influence of performance stress, you’re teleported back to your kingdom. This time you build a shelter to shield yourself from the harsh climate. You’re safe, but every time you go back and performance stress increases, you need more protection. You start constructing a village to protect you, but you can only build as long as you’re in that mind state. So you start putting yourself in that mental state every day, just so you can return and build your village brick by brick.

Now, every time you’re under stress, you have a place that you can return to where you can survive. But it’s no longer enough for you to want to survive, you want to thrive. You are king, and a king builds himself a kingdom.

Every time you experience stress in a different arena of your life, you’re teleported to a different part of the country. You don’t have the resources of your citadel here and you’re exposed to the elements, but what you do have now is a toolbelt around your waist and a knowledge of how to build a city. You use your existing knowledge to build another city. Now you have roads connecting them together.

You are king and you control your kingdom however you please.

You become a black belt in understanding your emotional state, and once you have such a deep understanding of how your body feels/resonates on the inside, you have full control.

In the same way that an elite Muay Thai fighter is so in touch with the movement patterns that he can see punches in slow motion and effortlessly control his opponents to his will.

When he steps into the ring, he is stepping into his kingdom. He may take damage there, but he knows how to handle it and he can ultimately control any warrior in the ring because they are in his kingdom and they are under his laws.

I have been training for 3 months, and I have my first fight in 2 weeks. For now, I am the king of my village and I will bring my opponent to fight me there.

Jan. 20, 2023 | 2:44 p.m.

Best of luck, I'm here for your journey.

How confident are you in the strategy you're trying to execute? You're pushing volume very hard and that may come at the expense of integrating and executing your strategy with precision.

It doesn't matter how fast you run if you're running in the wrong direction.

Jan. 19, 2023 | 5:02 p.m.

"It's easier to heal the mind with the body than to heal the mind with the mind"

Learning how our body responds to tilt is a skill. The nervous system triggers remain consistent when we are tilted (for you this may be tight chest, quick pulse, warm face).

When we learn to listen to how our body feels, we strengthen the connection between identifying body feelings and tilt.

"I feel my chest tighten and my breathing rate increase, therefore I am tilted"

Now that we are able to quickly identify when we are tilted and what it feels like, we can start to do specific exercises to relax those nervous system responses.

"I am taking deliberate, deep, controlled breaths. I no longer feel a tight chest and rapid breathing, therefore I am not tilted"

Jan. 17, 2023 | 10:20 a.m.

Comment | Iranian96 commented on Why Not Me?

Following you journey brother

Jan. 15, 2023 | 6:17 p.m.

#18 Some Thoughts on Identity Labels

One of my biggest improvements in 2022 was to stop self-assigning identity labels.
"I am an __ person"
"I think in this way"
I have not once assigned myself an identity label that is negative that has served me.
A negative identity label is nothing more than a limiting belief.

"I'm introverted"
"I'm risk-averse"
"I don't handle confrontation well"
"I'm unorganized"
"I'm a night owl"
(Trigger warning)
"I am depressed"
These labels are part of the story you tell yourself about who you are, as if you're a collection of static, immutable traits.
This is actually a manifestation of a fixed-mindset, because we take these labels as truth on how we are.
In order to take a growth-minded approach to release these labels, ask yourself one question:
"What does someone who is not x exhibit that I do not?"
One of my identity issues used to be "I am irresponsible". I healed from this by asking myself "How would someone who is not irresponsible behave?" and worked on changing my patterns, gaining trust from within as I grew.

My Discord is always open if you have performance/mental game issues and want to ask question or schedule a call: Arya#4100

Jan. 12, 2023 | 4:16 p.m.

Comment | Iranian96 commented on Poker Journal
  • the cold calling/limp calling response is pretty static to our sizing

Jan. 12, 2023 | 4 p.m.

Comment | Iranian96 commented on Next One Up

Bets of luck, your study method of "copy ideas from different high stakes guys and piece it together" is a strong approach.

Jan. 12, 2023 | 3:37 p.m.

Comment | Iranian96 commented on Poker Journal

I did a 3 day fast last year, having never gone more than 18hrs without food. I feel like I had heightened body awareness during that period.

Jan. 12, 2023 | 3:29 p.m.

Comment | Iranian96 commented on THE GRIND

Bets of luck, but starting at 1/3 has not got to be fun lol

Jan. 12, 2023 | 3:25 p.m.

"Would evaluating the quality of your mental state on your awareness of the changing nature of feelings and thoughts be more productive/helpful?"

I don't think so, but the evaluation is designed to be an end-of-day reflection of how I actually performed. Creating tools/strategies for improving in-game performance is a different matter (Your last paragraph is on the right lines).

Do you feel like when you have strong awareness over when you have negative feelings in-game, that it actually helps you perform better?

Jan. 12, 2023 | 3:22 p.m.

I evaluate the quality of my mental state based on feeling. You're right that my priority focus is to play more volume, but this test was created to outsource how I feel about my day. There have been many days where I worked hard and made progress in the areas of life i care about but "felt bad" during the day and so I labelled the day as a failure.

This test is designed to outsource how I judge my days, it's not just focused on measuring my volume because that's not the only metric that affects fulfilment, even though it's the most important variable for my bottom line.

"I'm just unsure if it's realistic to assume that you can consistently deliver top quality"
The purpose of the test is specifically to move away from this idea, otherwise I would require myself to score a prefrect 10 every day.

Jan. 11, 2023 | 2:04 p.m.

#17 Some Thoughts on The Apgar Test

The Apgar test was created to provide a simple, objective score that could be used to assess the health of newborns. Here’s how I’m using it to monitor my poker goals and increase performance.

Prior to the development of the Apgar test, there was no standardized method for evaluating the health of newborns, and babies who were born with problems were often not identified until it was too late to provide appropriate treatment. The Apgar score measures appearance, pulse, grimace, activity and respiration and each category is given a score of 0, 1, or 2. A score of 7 or above indicates that a baby is in good condition and lower than 7 indicates that further monitoring is necessary.

As someone who is highly neurotic, I struggle with identifying my days as “happy/unhappy”. I believe that striving for happiness is a mistake, as happiness is no more than a temporary state, like anger or jealousy. Rather, I believe that I will improve my quality of life by striving for two of the most important metrics: peace and fulfilment.

If I identify the 5 variables in my day that contribute towards fulfilment and focus on executing these, then I can now track the most important metrics for determining how I feel.

Poker Apgar Test

If I score 7 or above, then I can consider the day a success. Note that if I don’t play any poker, then I not only score 0 for volume but also 0 for quality of play which automatically makes the day a failure. This has a built-in effect of requiring me to structure my day to grind, even if for an hour. Volume is my biggest leak in poker and this metric keeps me accountable.

The idea of this system is to reprogram my mind from rating the quality of my day based on how I feel to rating it based on process goals. A roundabout effect of this is that I will end up actually feeling happier more frequently as I will be taking care of myself better and consistently executing on the hard things I need to do.

Jan. 8, 2023 | 3:13 p.m.

Just found your blog, wishing you all the best in 2023 brother

Jan. 5, 2023 | 2:08 p.m.

#16 Some Thoughts on Keeping Score

I’ve seen some players, myself included, try and break down where they’re underperforming in the game tree by diving into deep filters in their tracking software. Even if a player has a good winrate and is overperforming over a given sample, if you filter deep enough you will always find a node where they’re losing money. A player may find that their 3BP IP PFC winrate after calling a c-bet is bad even though their overall winrate is strong, but they fail to understand a key concept: the more specific your filter, the smaller the sample size becomes, and as the sample size decreases, extreme results become more likely. You’re often not looking at a zone where you’re actually punting, you’re looking at a random zone where you happen to be running bad.

Try hard enough and you’ll always find a zone where it looks as if you’re underperforming.

This is part of a message from a player who reached out to me on my Discord. The need to move up stakes quicker than your peers is an insecurity-driven response to hide a core feeling of inadequacy. When you frame your reality around a performance standard, you are sure to feel negative if you don’t perform where you expect to, and if this performance standard is unrealistic, you will be constantly subjecting yourself to unnecessary pain.

Needing to move up stakes faster than ALL of your peers is an unrealistic performance standard. If any of your friends move up in stakes quicker than you, it triggers these feelings of unworthiness and puts you in a mental state where you believe you’ve done wrong. This is an unrealistic performance standard to hold because it’s measured overwhelmingly by variance.

I know from personal experience that any negative feelings I project onto someone with better results than me is actually a reflection of an insufficiency in myself that is projected onto that person, and it’s because I know that there’s a level of work that I should be doing that I haven’t addressed.

I’ve never met someone who feels negative emotions from the success of their friends that isn’t stuck in an internal battle with themselves.

I'm opening up my Discord this year. If you or someone you know is having mindset/performance issues in poker, feel free to message me and I will be happy to schedule a call to help with whatever I can. I'm not asking for anything in return, I am just curious to gain perspectives from a variety of players.

Discord: Arya#4100

Jan. 5, 2023 | 1:34 p.m.

I'm going to be taking a bit of time off from this blog due to mental health reasons. I've removed a lot of social media already and I am going to remove the rest, and focus on a minimalistic life for the time being. I will be doing writing in my down time and will come back when I feel prepared to.

Nov. 15, 2022 | 11:29 p.m.

So you have glycogen in your body (this is how we store glucose). We store glycogen in our liver and muscle tissue, and our brain uses glycogen as fuel. We only have so much stored in our liver though. When we do heavy weightlifting, we deplete our muslces of glycogen and our liver stores refuel our muscles, but this leaves less for our brain, hence why we feel mentally drained after a very intense workout session.

I've read that ~30 minutes of aerobic exercise is great for stimulating a high energy response without burning us out. Pretty much any movement that increases heart rate but doesn't overload the muscles so much should give a cognitive benefit, which seems to agree with your anecdotal experience.

Nov. 10, 2022 | 11:36 p.m.

#15 Some Thoughts on A Game Performance

I dated a girl for a month I had invited to a rooftop party of ours during a stint in Mexico that started great and took a downward trajectory. I felt like I had projected a fake version of myself that was so much higher value than my real self. I was in constant low-level fear that she would see through the façade and my real self would be exposed.

It started well, however over the course of the next month it inevitably ended in a trainwreck with a lot of pain. What had happened is a fear of exposing my real self, which led to a subtle leak of insecurity/neediness on a level that men are probably not even sensitive to. By the end, I had fulfilled my prophecy. The fire left her eyes, she lost attraction, and I was thinking neurotically at all times overanalyzing every situation. I was in a mode of resistance, trying to rekindle a spark. I was not able to be present and I drove somebody away in an emotionally immature way.

Woe is me.

My good friend sat down with me and, over dinner, made a powerful observation that shifted my perspective. I had assumed that the reflection of my character demonstrated at the party was artificially inflated and that my real low-level character traits were exposed over time.

“What if the real you is the confident, socially calibrated, interesting person at the party because you were in a good mindset and fully present, and as time went on, your insecurities and neuroticism prevented you from being able to access that level of confidence?” I had never thought to challenge my previous framework.

The old framework had me operating under the assumption that my insecure, neurotic, overthinking self was my default operating mode, and that I could only touch upon higher states if I had the perfect environment set up. As if all of these negative qualities are what all of my core beliefs are structured upon. Maybe I never dared to question the validity of these core character assumptions because I had structured so many higher-level belief systems on top of these. Questioning these assumptions would destabilize so much of my identity.

The new framework, however, has me identifying the character traits that I want to embody and striving to act in a way that a high performer with these traits would act. The clearest difference is that I am now framing my core identity in a positive light rather than negative light. As humans, we tend to make assumptions about someone and then hunt for examples of information that reinforce those beliefs. If the assumptions we make about ourselves are positive (as they rightfully should be, as an overwhelming majority of us are genuinely good people), then we will look for real-life examples where we can reinforce the validity of our positive qualities.

If you hold your top performance traits as your core tenets, you will naturally align towards behaving in a way that is congruent with someone who has fully integrated those high-performance traits.

If you are someone who has an underdog complex, this expresses itself in poker as someone whose state of comfort is to be in a position of struggle, where you’re always on the edge of the next breakthrough. The self that sits at the table with pure presence and focus is the true you. The self that sits down and is mentally unclear and frustrated, is the part of you that is in a lower-level mental state that isn’t able to access the clarity of playing above the emotional clouds. Since this epiphany, a majority of my “study” time outside poker has shifted towards self-practices that are geared towards accentuating the traits that I identify with my A-game self.

“Why can’t I just say that my real self is my best traits and not my worst traits? Aren’t they all part of our character? Isn’t it just as correct to say that our worst traits are just as much our “real self” as our best?” We will view everything that happens to us through a lens, positive or negative. We are able to choose which lens we view ourselves, and this is reflected in how we interact with the world.

The mental acrobatics I’ve just performed help to calibrate the emotional compass which we use to navigate through life, and with an uncalibrated compass, you’ll probably be walking in the wrong direction.

Nov. 8, 2022 | 8:14 p.m.

Who actually gives a fuck? Study how you think is best and it's other people's problem to deal with if they don't think it's "correct".

Nice results at 1k btw

Nov. 1, 2022 | 6:34 p.m.

#14 Some Thoughts on Crossroads

I wanted to be a poker player. I also wanted to be a soldier. I didn't know how to decide. Here's the process I used to move forward with my life.

We start by logically analyzing the pros and cons of each decision, which is a fine strategy until we rack up a huge list of risk/rewards for both decisions and we're left with no better idea of how to actually come to a conclusion.

What most people do is assume that they haven't applied enough logical analysis to their situation to come to an objective conclusion. "If only I had enough pros for me to feel comfortable making the right decision".

Let's break it down with simple logic: If decisions A and B were not close, we could analyze pros/cons and come to an objective conclusion. You wouldn't need to go further. The fact that you can't shows these decisions are very close and we need a different approach.

If the decisions are very close by objective measurements, then following this logic it doesn't actually matter which one we pick. What now matters is which decision we are in more emotional agreement with.

Hearing this will trigger anyone in the over-analytical archetype because it won't agree with their current system for parsing information. This is how I do it:

"How would committing to decision A make me feel?"
"How would committing to decision B make me feel?"
"Could I live with myself if I committed to decision A and not decision B"
"Could I live with myself if I committed to decision B and not decision A"

I was at a crossroads a while back. I wanted to join the Royal Marines for the last decade but knew that I had to pick between that and poker. I couldn't solve this logically; there were too many perks of both and I didn't know how to be ok with leaving one on the table. I sat with the feeling of both on the table and tried to imagine both realities and what sacrifices would be required. I just wasn't prepared to commit to the military knowing that I would always have the possibility of really breaking through in poker on my mind.

Here's the conclusion I came to: Apply full commitment to poker for a decided timeframe (3 months). The only options were high-stakes success or total failure. This resonated with me because true failure would open me up to fully committing to the Marines.

In the span of those 3 months, I went from having moved down to 100NL to successfully beating 1kNL online. I never looked back and am happy with the path I have taken.

An interesting lesson I learnt: Once you reach emotional agreement on the decision, you automatically have 100% confidence you made the right decision because being in emotional agreement with the decision IS the way of measuring the best decision.

· If decisions A and B are not close, you can easily identify the best decision with logic.
· If they are close, you need to adjust the lens through which you are trying to solve your problem.
· Which one "feels right"? Which one can you not live without?

Oct. 30, 2022 | 3:01 p.m.

It would be good to see you exercise more aggressive BR management at microstakes, as the rake decrease has a big effect on winrate. Do you have a structure for number of BI's required to move up/down?

Oct. 26, 2022 | 8:54 p.m.

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