I really enjoyed Phil Jackson's book as well. I try to keep up my reading most of the time and I also feel I've exhausted the traditional self improvement genre so here are a few below I've read in the last while that it sounds like you might enjoy. There's also a few that are a little left field!
You win in the locker room first - John Gordon & Mike Smith
The Almanack of Naval Ravikant - Eric Jorgensen
Stolen Focus - Johann Hari
Digital Minimalism and Deep Work - Cal Newport
The Body Keeps the Score - Bessel Van der Kolk
The Obstacle is the way and Ego is the Enemy - Ryan Holiday
Flow - Mihalyi Czinkzenmihalhyi (completely guessed the spelling ha)
Hope you decide to keep up the blog but if not, best of luck with the flat and whatever you decide to do next.
Dec. 28, 2022 | 10:50 p.m.
Not the start of the New Year I was hoping for. Started the journal around the 50k - 60k hand mark. This is the worst run of variance I've had I would say. I really can't seem to win a hand lately. This is a mix between 25 and 50nl but mostly 50. I'm going to need to drop down, and play 25nl again. Incredibly frustrating.
I'm making some mistakes as well so I can't blame variance for everything! But more often than not lately, It's either a sick cooler or I can't hold. I'm going to take a break for a week or so, study and try and regain some confidence.
Jan. 7, 2022 | 5:56 p.m.
Week 4 Update:
Pretty difficult week. So many coolers etc. I have to remember that if I want to take the game more seriously, this is just going to happen from time to time and I need to accept it.
Some interesting hands:
Unsure if this is a jam
Bluff gone wrong
This was one of these spots that I think I like the line but I think villain was not the folding type in general and I kind of knew I shouldn't follow through
St. Stephen's Day Gift
This is never usually an open for me but there were some creative players out on this day with two in the blinds so I was opening a bit more liberally!
Looking forward to rebuilding next week, spending some more time studying and continuing to battle my mental game leaks. Looking forward to 2022!
Happy New Year!
Dec. 31, 2021 | 9:45 a.m.
Poker and Life Update:
This might be a bit of a long ramble of a post but a few things I wanted to update.
I've been gradually falling out of the good habits that I've built over the last few weeks. It started with missing one of my 500 hand breaks. Then skipping a warm up or just doing a very short one to tick the box. Playing way more hands when I'm stuck and not wanting to have a losing day. And so on. There's been a combination of reasons for this. Firstly, I ended up having a bad run of variance. The biggest issue I have is the idea of urgency. I constantly want to win back what I've lost and I want to improve and move up the ranks as fast as possible. This causes me to neglect the habits and I just want to play as much as possible until I have regained my losses. I need to take a step back and remember the long term game. I'm pretty much exclusively playing 50nl now and I really didn't think I'd be playing even 25nl a couple of months ago. So I need to appreciate where I've gotten to so far.
Over the last while, I've had some slips on certain days where I have a small bit of tilt or don't stick to my rules. But they would only be minor slips. Yesterday and partially the day before, was a complete shit show. Not necessarily because of the results, but more how I responded. I slipped back into my old ways - played way more hands than normal. Calling to hit miracle cards and desperately trying to get myself unstuck. The tilt really altered the way I actually played the game and I'd been able to control that over the last few months.
Obviously I didn't run well - But if I had been playing anyway well, I still could have had a winning session. I was calling down in spots where I know I'm losing. Planning to bet fold rivers and calling off anyway etc. Part of the reason for the additional tilt I think is because I'm not quite used to the swings of 50nl yet. If I lost 4 buy ins at 25nl, I was able to deal with that as it was just $100. But at 50nl it's obviously $200 which makes me feel a lot worse.
I went out for some food and drinks yesterday and had a realisation about how ridiculous my behaviour has been the last few days. Like it was just 4 buy ins. And I'm going to have a lot worse in the future. If I don't learn to handle the swings now, how will I respond as I move up the stakes?
So going to take today and tomorrow off, get back to doing a bit more study and make sure I'm sticking to the habits I set out at the beginning of this blog. Part of the reason for the days off is to relax. But another part of it is to discipline myself not to urgently want to get those 4 buy ins back.
The last 6 - 9 months has been pretty difficult in my personal life. This is largely driven by a really difficult and highly pressurised job that had a detrimental effect on my mental health. As a result, I pretty much let other areas of life that I'm usually quite disciplined in fall by the wayside. I've put on quite a bit of weight in a short period, have been exercising very little and I am barely doing the bare life essentials - My office is very dirty, I seem to always have a massive build up of laundry etc.
I've recently left the job and start a new role in January. So it's time to make some progress in other areas of my life also. In my opinion, exercise and nutrition can have a massive impact on peoples ability to focus and get in the zone. So this should all have a positive impact on my poker performance also.
Anyway, I have to remember that while I've had some slips, I have made some positive changes so far and I need to remember not to seek perfection. As part of this journey, there are going to be some slips. And so far, I am still beating the games.
Looking forward to 2022 and I hope everyone is having a nice Christmas break.
Dec. 28, 2021 | 2:42 p.m.
Week 3 Update:
Bank Roll: $2,613.79
Ended up having to play an outrageous number of hands this week in order to get the rake back challenge completed. Started taking shots at 50nl this week and it went ok. Just finished a session there where I was up 5 buy ins and then finished a small loser which is quite frustrating.
I feel lke I'm playing quite well most of the time although I am properly burnt out after this week. Need to take some time off to recover.
These are my results below since I started the blog. A mix of 25 and 50nl. Really chuffed overall with them. I know it's a small sample but I'm more happy with my mindset and the fact that I'm sticking to a plan and not tilting off a load of buy ins.
The main leak I still have is checking results mid session. It's like a compulsion and I really need to start figuring out a system. I may need to go cold turkey and just check once a week or something. I will try and mull this over the next few days.
May edit this and add in a few hands over the next few days but for now, have a good Christmas!
Dec. 24, 2021 | 1:56 p.m.
Not sure I can fold the Q10 hand to one bet! But think you’re probably right MW, pool are generally going to be honest there.
KQd hand, I think this is really rare as you said and you wouldn’t need to worry about it.
Enjoy the break mate
Dec. 23, 2021 | 8:21 a.m.
Yeah with the AQ hand, I don't think I can go around folding this hand all that often. This reg doesn't really get out of line that often.
The A10hh hand - I saved money in this instance but I think you're right. Never really worried about A10 and shouldn't just call because I think he may have 1010 in this particular spot.
Dec. 20, 2021 | 9:46 a.m.
Yes it is correct. My interpretation is that we shouldn't raise merged vs a polar raise. For example, we wouldn't raise second pair to a polar flop bet. But you could consider it vs a merged bet (depending on the positions etc). If we have a nutted hand IP vs the aggressor and he bets merged, you may consider just calling. But vs a polar bet, you can raise more as he's representing a polarized range himself.
Dec. 19, 2021 | 10:51 a.m.
Week 2 Update:
Bank roll: $1,881
Pretty good week and just ran very well. I made the classic mistake of forgetting about variance and got smacked in the face in the middle. About 4 buy ins in about 30s! And then continued to lose another 3 calling down in spots that were definitely a fold. That will teach me.
I did quite a lot of study this week and spent time looking at tricky spots. I've been far more active with tagging hands - and even just small pots. Since I've been studying, my redline is much improved overall. My redline used to be always gradually downhill but it seems to be trending above breakeven. I also found a discord study group and I've been using that to discuss hands which has been a great addition.
From a mental game perspective, I still have a lot to improve on. Tracking has made a big improvement already but I still have a lot of leaks. Hopefully if I keep tracking, I can continue to make some improvements.
I played more hands than usual this week as I am finishing up in my current job over the next week and I'm just winding down everything so I have a bit more time. I planned each session and played focused sessions far more frequently than usual. So some good improvements but more needed.
Played some tournaments with a friend this week so that's why my bankroll is a little lower than it should be.
Some interesting hands:
Vs a reg
Don't think I should be checking the turn here. My thought process was that he might punt it off with a random bluff or missed hearts. Or if he had 10s - QQs, he may stack off on the river.
Punting it off
I'm supposed to just give up river here. This was during the period when I lost multiple buy ins in quick succession - This was a mental game leak.
Have a good week all.
Dec. 18, 2021 | 8:18 a.m.
Hi Tariq Haji
11:00 Is there an argument to just checking here? I'm not sure I want to bet into two players (one being short stacked) with no real equity. I know the short stack can be really wide, but he can often have pairs that won't fold to one barrell. If we pick up equity on the turn, barrell and miss the river, it's really awkward with the SPR?
Thanks for the content, great stuff.
Dec. 17, 2021 | 2:28 p.m.
My plan was to play 1000 hands in that session. I think there was a little bit of that feeling of wanting to lock it up for that session. I played another session later that evening. I generally don’t have that issue to stop when I’m winning but I think it was a little more prevalent as I’d been on a bad run for the last few weeks.
Dec. 17, 2021 | 8:28 a.m.
Mid Week Update:
Took a few days off around the wedding to recover. I've played 3 sessions since. I seem to be doing ok All in EV wise but feel like I'm getting coolered way more frequently than normal. And then I start delving into hands and trying to figure out how I could have played the hand not to get stacked but quite frequently, it was just a standard cooler.
I'm working hard and putting a lot of effort into studying etc and then today I had one of the best 25nl sessions I've ever had. I played well and got the max out of my made hands but also just ran like god over a short sample
Felt great to have that kind of session finally. Going to put my head down over the next few days, put a good bit of study in and play tomorrow and Sat.
Dec. 16, 2021 | 12:34 p.m.
Hey mate. I tend to be ok mentally if I lose buy ins in quick succession when it’s all in pre flop. I get really tilted when there are multiple hands when villain gets there with a FD vs Top set for example. I can always feel the tilt coming on and only recently I’ve made a rule to sit out when I start to notice it. I’ve been on a really frustrating run recently so I’ve had plenty of chances to practice. Sometimes I’m quicker than others at catching it.
There’s a quote I always have rattling around in my mind before a session - ‘Between stimulus and response there is a pause, I try to live in that pause’. If I can remember that mid game, it helps.
I agree that checking results less frequently is definitely the best long term but I’m gonna have to work up to that ha. I’m working on not checking mid session at the moment. And I hope to extend it gradually.
Dec. 15, 2021 | 11:04 p.m.
Week 1 Update:
Bank roll: $1,624
Pretty frustrating week overall. I seemed to always have the second best hand or the board ran out pretty terribly. Didn't run too well in all in spots either. But overall I was relatively happy with how I played. And happy I am only losing marginally for the week.
On the plus side, Pokerstars gave me a $400 rake back challenge in addition to the usual chests which I completed and they have just given me another one to be completed by the end of the month which is great.
In relation to the process goals I set for myself, I have set up a tracker to ensure I'm sticking to them. Obviously, some of these bad mental game leaks are habits I've had for years and will take some time to iron out but I think this should help.
I watched Max Lacerda's video called Training Like an Athlete and have been using some of the methods for studying here. I use a system called Notion (he uses evernote) and I am practicing specific spots. I try to think through each spot thoroughly and estimate the frequency I'm supposed to check/call/raise etc on each board and whenever there is a discrepancy between what I think and what GTO wizard does, I try to figure out why and put some notes to that effect and then review prior to each session. It definitely gets me thinking more before a session.
I won't be playing much this weekend as my brother is getting married and I'm the best man so will be on best man duties today and the wedding is on Sunday. Hoping for a better week next week.
Some hands from the week:
I would be interested to hear thoughts on this one - I think I like the line but overall I'm not sure how often that is going to work at these stakes
This was just last night so I haven't looked into yet - Not sure if I'm supposed to be checking turn. I think villain should be checking river nearly always. I was happy with the flat call as when villain bets here, I can't see us getting called by worse if we raise.
Have a good week all.
Dec. 11, 2021 | 9:18 a.m.
It's great for me to hear both sides of it. And I think generally people need to find what works for them. It may suit some and not others.
For me, I think a big part of the allure is that I have been playing on my own for 10 years and it hasn't worked ha. I think continuing to study on my own may not be the best option for me long term and either coaching or the CFP route would be best.
Thanks for both your inputs!
Dec. 9, 2021 | 4:43 p.m.
Thanks for the input mate.
Yeah I get what you mean. It is definitely a solo endeavour. And to be honest I'm an introvert by nature and work from home on my own and love it. But I suppose I was trying to find some sort of balance.
I think you're right about trying to get some sort of study group going. I will definitely look into it and see if I can get to know a few people playing similar stakes.
Dec. 9, 2021 | 3:08 p.m.
Thanks for the advice. I suppose I hadn't really thought about it like that. In my mind, getting into a CFP was the best way to improve at the game quickly.
I do also like the community element of it. I do have aspirations for poker to be a proper income for me in the future and I suppose I like the idea of being part of a team and having that support when going through downswings etc. Also, I have no friends/connections that are really into poker so that is part of it as well.
I did have intentions of getting some individual coaching over the next few months to try and help my game so I think I can start with that and see where my mindset is in the future.
As you said, first steps are to tackle my own mental game issues etc and the rest is a bit further down the road.
Dec. 9, 2021 | 1:59 p.m.
This is my second attempt at a journal. I started one a few months ago and had some unrealistic expectations about the frequency of my posts. I began tracking every session and quickly grew tired of it. At the same time, I had a lot going on in life so I decided to take a small break from playing and withdrew the majority of my roll.
Things have settled down a little over the last while so I wanted to get back playing. I had 33 dollars left in my account and have somehow miraculously managed to run it up to $1,200. Started playing 5nl and then moved up to 10nl and now to 25nl. I play tournaments with a friend of mine pretty infrequently, usually when there's a series on just for fun. I managed to satellite and cash a few and also won a 4.40 tournament for $600. I've also gotten a decent amount of rake back.
I've played poker recreationally over the last 10 years but have never really made it past 25nl. It's only in the last 6 months or so I've been really trying to take it seriously and actually apply some of the concepts I've been learning . I've been inspired by some of the journals on here, mainly Freenachos and Matostar. My ambition is to improve enough over the course of the next year to apply to a CFP and really begin to understand the game on a higher level. With that in mind, I have set myself some short-medium term and some longer term goals. I tend to try and set a mix of process and outcome goals.
Before I lay them out, I should probably say that my main leak at the moment is my mental game. Even if I produce a positive win rate over a decent sample over the next 6 months, I won't apply until I have resolved some of these issues. A lot are just down to lack of discipline but briefly they are as follows:
- Checking results mid session
- Not taking breaks when tilting
- Playing abnormally long sessions and refusing to accept a losing day
- Randomly logging on and playing at suboptimal times
- General tilt - I rarely get tilted when I lose a flip or get sucked out on in general. For me it tends to happen when I make a big error or I don't follow through on a bluff when I should have etc.
- Study 6 - 8 hours each week
- Pick a set hand volume or time limit for each session - Also take a break every 500 hands to assess how I am playing
- Have a 4 Buy In stop loss and stick to it
- Update blog once per week
- Warm up with GTO Wizard before each session
- Review 3 - 5 hands at the end of each session
- Beat 25nl and 50nl over a reasonable sample
- Apply for a CFP
- Eventually, I would love to get to the point where I could work part time and earn an income from Poker
I'm not going to set any specific volume goals for hands. Generally, putting in volume has not been my problem. If anything, I play way too much, especially at times when I shouldn't.
I'm hoping this blog will help keep me accountable and I can have some success like the guys I mentioned previously!
GL at the tables.
Dec. 8, 2021 | 12:11 p.m.
I think 4bet folding here is a better option than flatting most of the time. BB is pretty wide and if BTN is a reg, he will be 3betting the button a decent amount, sometimes Bb will cold call with strong hands here and that’s ok. But if the flop comes 1072r, you’ll probably have a hard time folding vs him if he has flat QQ plus.
Interested to hear other thoughts on this one. I personally don’t think I’m ever flatting here and that could be a mistake also.
Nov. 29, 2021 | 5:03 p.m.
I'm not sure why we would check raise the turn here as opposed to betting? I think you have the perfect hand here to continue barrelling and you're unlikely to get jammed on. I think when villain bets that size he's rarely folding to a jam. So from my point of view, if I check here I'm check calling to realise my equity but I think I always bet this turn. I think if you don't pick up the additional equity on the turn you can check give up happily.