Can’t Hurt Me
The last few weeks have been the most exciting times since I’ve started this journey. Honestly, I don’t think there is anyone that’s ever had such a blast losing as much as I did. It’s weird, I’m in a place where I feel almost complete acceptance over the fact that there are infinite things that are outside of my control. I think the most important change I’ve made over the last year is trying to take full control over the things I do have control over and that makes it easier to surrender to the things that I don’t have any control over.
I’m currently reading Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins and something he wrote really resonated with me. I don’t remember the exact phrasing, but at some point during his training to become an navy seal, he hurts his legs significantly. He tries to continue, but on top of being on the toughest training in the world he is now injured as well. Pain is everywhere. He thinks about quitting, but he decides to hold on just a little while longer. He reframes the pain he’s feeling as just another obstacle that has to be conquered. After a while the pain slowly fades away. Throughout the rest of the training the pain comes and goes in waves, but he pulls through. Eventually he felt like the pain was pushing him forward, rather than holding him back. ‘I’m fucking doing this hell week while being injured and I’m actually capable of getting through this’.
I won’t compare the pain of losing at poker to doing a navy seals training on what turned out to be two broken legs, but something in this story resonated with me. Right now things are not going my way and this would have been something I’d feel discouraged by. Like I mentioned in my previous entry, there we’re many times where I’d just be pacing around the living room asking myself when this all would stop. For some reason now it’s different. I haven’t lost more than this ever, yet I feel like this shit is only driving me forward.
I think being able to reframe downswings is one of the most important things a poker player can learn. I’m not saying you should deny the emotions you have when shit starts hitting the fan. Don’t deny your emotions, accept them for what they are. If you feel hurt, feel hurt. Take a deep breath and tell yourself: ‘It’s okay to feel hurt right now. It’s okay that I get emotional over this. It just doesn’t define the actions that I’m taking.’ In Goggins journey, he didn’t try to pretend he wasn’t hurt, but rather he accepted that he was hurt and realized that that wasn’t just a negative thing, it was also an opportunity to prove how tough he was.
That’s how I feel right now. I still get annoyed when I lose yet another flip. I still feel the pain of booking losing sessions. But at the same time there’s something empowering in getting punched down hard and standing up again.
Oct. 22, 2020 | 8:59 p.m.
Don't want to hijack this topic, but the solver also hard exploits from OOP perspective on the flop, whereas the pool is clearly not. You're also operating under the assumption that you are manually able to mix different combo's on the flop accurately and play those mixed strategies consistently throughout a game-tree that's suddenly twice as big while you don't have clarity on future streets on what you range exactly is.
Oct. 19, 2020 | 4:53 p.m.
I like the attitude! It's easy to forget when you're going through this shit, but I think in poker it's rarely the results that define you as a player, but rather how you deal with it. Just yesterday I realized I should be doing more review as well, so let's keep plugging away together!
Oct. 19, 2020 | 4:41 a.m.
Also, I'd like to extend my offer to help anyone out there that is struggling. Simply hit me up in DM or ask me anything in here. I wouldn't have made it this far without the community and I'd like to give back.
Oct. 13, 2020 | 10:32 p.m.
THE POKER DREAM
One year and eight months ago I started this journal as a struggling micro stakes grinder. In one of my first sentences I wrote: ‘In this journal I’ll write about the struggles I encounter towards my end goal, beating z100nl.” Now, one year and eight months later I took my first shots at high stakes. I guess if I want you guys to know one thing, it’s that the poker dream is still alive.
I’m not saying it’s easy. Just scroll through the first entries here and you know I’ve suffered my fair share. There we’re many nights when I closed the tables, pacing around the living room realizing I simply wasn’t as good as I thought I was. This realization still comes once a month btw :). I’ve felt like quitting more times than I care to remember. But for some reason the next morning I'd sit down at the kitchen table and do it all over again. I guess there’s a fine line between determination and plain foolishness :).
I wanted to end this post with a shout-out to Nick Howard and the entire Poker Detox family for paving the way and giving me the chance to walk in their footsteps. I couldn’t have done it without you guys. Honestly I still can’t believe how much my life has changed and for that I’m forever grateful.
Oct. 13, 2020 | 10:31 p.m.
Bad variance, good variance
A lot of shit has happened since my last entry, so I figured it was about time for a new one. Since last time I moved into a new house, which has been a massive upgrade for me (no more playing poker a narrow corridor, looking forward to be able to stretch my legs whilst playing, haha), but everything that could go wrong, went wrong. To summarize: there was a storm that flooded the entire street the week before we got in, all the furniture we had ordered got delayed multiple times, the previous owners had removed the access point for internet, so no wifi and to top that my phone broke down as well. Long story short: I've been living in my bedroom with limited internet access for the last couple of weeks. Couldn't play much at all.
Luckily last month I got in a couple of hands and ran hotter than the sun, so had my best month ever. If all goes well this friday everything regarding the house will be finalized, so I can finally get back on the grind. Hopefully I can get in some hands before the month is over, since I just played 35 up untill now.
The group within Detox that I'm coaching is slowly growing. Right now there are four guys in there that are really eager to climb the stakes. When I get internet access again, we'll set up a bi-weekly call, which I'm really looking forward to as well.
If you are interested in this, or if you just want to talk poker a bit, my door is always open. You can add me on Discord via: freenachos#2821
Talk soon :)
Sept. 16, 2020 | 1:49 p.m.
EXODUS OF THE MICROSTAKES GRINDER PART III: DELIBERATE PRACTICE (III)
In this third and last article on deliberate practice, I’ll give you guys a few practical examples on how I use the principles derived from the previous entries to guide me towards a more effective study routine.
When I’m developing and implementing new strategies, I like to drill the spot by going over a set number of hands in that formation. Say after some solver work I realize that I’m not check-raising enough versus small c-bets, then I’ll load a number of hands into the solver and drill this specific action. Whenever I’m in doubt I’m running a quick sim to verify if my hand ever check-raises and/or what other hands constitute as a check-raise in equilibrium. If you want to mimic a real-game environment you could use a shot-clock. There is an infinite amount of interval timers you can use on YouTube. The stretch goal I usually give myself is 25 hands. This is more than enough to keep me busy for a while.
Another way to drill strategies is to use programs like Simple GTO Trainer or GTO+ to play against a solution. Although it’s sometimes hard to interpret why a solver is doing what it’s doing, this is still a very effective way to get immediate feedback on your game. And since you'll be drilling a set number of hands, there is actually a clear stretch goal for you to aim for. A big drawback is that the program is mostly used to train solver-like equilibrium strategies, whereas humans are rarely able to mimic a solver correctly. Therefore, in most instances ‘playing GTO’ will actually be sub-optimal. Still, it’s a very nifty program that’s perfect to actively study GTO solutions. But you don’t have to take my word for it, some of the biggest crushers of the game also use this program, like in this video of 500z reg MyNameIsKarl.
If you don´t have access to either of these programs, then try to to create your own drills using a flashcard program like Brainscape. Flashcards are a highly effective method to implement new strategies. I’ve created many libraries studying my preflop ranges, my blueprint strategies, but also sets where I mimic in-game situations like defending versus c-bets. Just the process of creating these cards helps to integrate the knowledge, as you'll actively be studying the solutions to find spots that are unintuitive and therefore need extra drilling. With the use of Brainscape, you’ll also have the added benefit of applying an evidence-based learning technique called spaced repetition.
Another technique that I like to use when watching videos here on RIO is pausing regularly in spots that I find challenging. This is especially useful when watching liveplay videos. The obvious drawback is that it’s not possible to set a clearly defined stretch goal, but it is a inventive way to get some feedback on your own thought process in-game. Besides finding it generally more fun and engaging to watch videos while trying to actively compare my level of analysis to a few of the sickest crushers in the game, there is infinite evidence that active learning yields higher results compared to passive activities like watching and listening.
And then there is CheckDecide, which I believe will be the holy grail for optimizing poker study techniques. CheckDecide works in a similar fashion like Simple GTO Trainer, but it has the added benefit of coaches being able to give students the context they often so desperately need. It’s cool to see a solve where your combo jams over a c-bet in a 4-bet pot, but being able to recognize specific data points in the hand that lead to that action is a whole other ball game. You lack context. And CheckDecide gives you just that. You’ll basically play hands you’re coach has uploaded, provided with his commentary. While there is still some work on the development side of things, I’m certain that this eventually will turn out to be a way more effective learning tool than any other currently out on the market.
That’s basically it. You know what you need to know on how to use deliberate practice in your study routine. If you would like to learn more about this subject, I highly recommend you guys to read GRIT, by dr Angela Duckworth, one of the world’s renowned and leading scientist when it comes efficient and effective learning methods. For my next entry I have a few ideas in mind, but I’m open to suggestions.
One more thing
Besides I wanted to let you guys know I’m still open to add more guys to the stable I’m creating within PokerDetox. The first two guys have recently signed their contracts and a third one is on his way to make it to the team. Players who join via me will get direct access via a Discord chat, weekly coaching calls and a Dropbox with all sorts of content. Besides all that the most important incentive is obviously a scientificly sound, data-driven approach that has made many (myself included) rise up through the ranks.
Aug. 6, 2020 | 1:02 p.m.
Consistency versus freedom
Usually the summer is filled with travel, hanging out with friends and drinking a lot more than I should. As you all are very much aware, this yeah is a quite different. The lockdown is over, but we decided to stay home anyway. There is some fomo for sure, but I think it's better.
Results-wise this month has been awesome, I played solid most of the time, but I lacked consistency. I didn't play nearly as much as I wanted. One night I'm playing 8 hours, the next one I quit after an hour to get some drinks in the city. I've talked about this with my mental game coach and later in a call with Nick Howard, and it made me realize two things:
1. I should schedule a set amount of hours to grind a week at set times and I should treat that part of my schedule with the highest priority.
2. I have to form habits and routines that can help me get more efficient.
Together with Nick I created a schedule that should allow me to easily play 10k hands a week. Since I've decided to give going pro a real shot this year, I think that should be the bare minimum I should aim for. As a form of accountability, I'll post a weekly graph from now on to see how I'm doing.
(There are some rakeless hands from GGPoker included in this sample, I actually won $8.6k)
The other thing I'm really stoked about is the fact I started coaching some of the new recruits and lower division guys at Detox. It's been a lot of fun talking hands with these guys. Besides that I got to bring a few guys on to the team to give them intensive coaching and get them to midstakes+ as fast as possible. It seems like we'll starting off with two guys and I honestly feel like these guys will be at midstakes before the end of the year. They seem really motivated to make this poker thing work and I think they both are going to surprise themselves over the coming months. I'll be looking to add a few more guys over the coming months, so if anyone is interested, be sure send me a message!
July 30, 2020 | 9:32 p.m.
With all the stuff I've been doing on the side for Detox, I really don't have time to review your video. I wish you the best of luck on your journey and if you ever want to talk, feel free to pm me!
July 26, 2020 | 8:53 a.m.
COACHING FOR DETOX
Today is a big day for me. I've got asled to help the coaching staff at Detox to help players just starting out on the program. Honestly thrilled that I get to have this opportunity. I love teaching as well as poker and being able to get paid to do both is a dream come through.
I'll also be running my own small team within the cfp for players that get to Detox through me. I'll be offering exclusive coaching to speed up the integration process and guide them through their journey from low to midstakes and beyond! Yesterday we've signed the first guy and I can't wait to start to actually work with him.
Anyone who's interested feel free to pm me!
July 21, 2020 | 10:11 p.m.
Exodus of the Microstakes Grinder Part II: Deliberate Practice (II)
In this article I want to give you a few tips on how to integrate deliberate practice in your study routine. A big part of my study routine is based around the principles I’ve laid out in the previous entry, I want to note however that I’m not an expert on how to incorporate this type of training in your study routine. I just do what works for me. So, with that out of the way, let’s go over the conditions for deliberate practice one more time.
A clearly defined stretch goal
In order to get a clearly defined stretch goal, it’s important to dissect a skill into the smallest possible sub-skill. Say you want to get better at defending versus c-bets. While that’s something most players should desire as most of the pool is still overfolding, it’s way to broad to be able to define a clearly defined stretch goal. So what you’ll want to do is dissect the skill into the smallest possible subskill. A clearly defined stretch goal would be: I’m going to go over 25 hands where I was on the big blind and faced a 1/3th c-bet from the button. Note how I’m convieniently choosing a spot that occurs very frequently, rather than going over spots where I face a river raise in a 3bet pot. Basically I’m applying what is called the Perato Principle, which states that 80% of the results are usually gained by 20% of the work you put in.
Immediate and informative feedback
This one can be tricky. The most effective and informative feedback comes from a qualified coach. An added benefit of hiring a coach is that you most likely are able to get the feedback right when you need it. ‘Well, I’m playing 10nl right now. How do you think I’m able to afford a coach?’, you might say and you’d be right. Microstakes players usually have limited resources. Getting coaching may be on your wish list, but getting a tracking program or a solver might be a higher priority (and cheaper). What you can do is trying to find a couple of guys who are at roughly on the same level as you and create a peer-group where you review hands and discuss strategy. Other ways to get feedback accumulating data by using solver results as a benchmark.
One last tip: don’t be afraid to ask people for help. I'm at a point right now where I still need to force myself, but it's infinitely better than when I didn't do it at all. Most people like to help other people, so just force yourself to contact people, build up a network. It's going to be your most valuable asset as a poker player.
A high concentration level
Often more is less. My approach is to take a few spots every week and study them about an hour to 90 minutes at a time. I find that after the hour mark my concentration drops at a pretty high rate and I don’t get the same results for every minute I spent. There are a few more extreme approaches, like the Pomodoro Technique, that advocates 25 minute sessions with 5 minute breaks.
Repetition with reflection and refinement
The rest is just all about doing the actual work and reflecting on the process before, during and after. Going back to the defending versus c-bets example; you might find after you’re first session using a solver to predict defending ranges that on some boards you’re strategy was working quite well. You found the check-raises you needed to find and you we’re able to predict a few cuspy hands correctly. Upon reviewing you found that on paired boards you had some trouble reaching the appropriate defending frequency. You decide for your next session you’ll focus on these board specifically.
In this article I’ve linked a few videos from the Youtube channel Better Than Yesterday. I’d highly recommend going over their channel if you are into self-improvement. In the next article I’ll go over a few learning methods I use myself that could be qualified as a form of deliberate practice and I'll go over my own schedule to give you an idea of how I'm making sure I'm as prepared as can be when I start my session.
July 18, 2020 | 10:06 p.m.
Okay, so I´m going to release my first article. It will be one in a pretty long series. In the first ones I´ll primarly focus on how to study, rather than what to study. I do realize that might not be what most of you are looking for, but it´s something that I think is very undervalued. It will probably be a pretty long series. The goal will be to provide a framework for all guys who don´t really have effective systems for improvement. I hope it can help some of you out.
Exodus of the Microstakes Grinder Part I: Deliberate Practice (I)
“The difference between expert performers and normal adults are not immutable, that is, due to genetically prescribed talent. Instead, these differences reflect a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance.”
Dr. Anders Ericsson (aka the expert of experts).
In one of his researches, Dr. Anders Ericsson interviewed dozens of Spelling Bee contestants to see why some of them excel and why some of them don’t. In earlier research, Ericsson’s research-partner Angela Duckworth found that grittier contestants we’re more likely to put in more practice hours and therefore had a bigger chance of success during contests. In the new research the goal was to see if there was a relation between the type of study of spelling bee finalist and there success rates.
They found that there we’re basically three types of activities recommended by experienced spellers:
1. Reading for pleasure and playing word games like Scrabble.
2. Getting quizzed by another person or a computer program.
3. Unassisted and solitary spelling practice, including memorizing new words from the dictionary and reviewing words in a notebook.
It’s what you do, not how much you do it
The results we’re quite staggering. It turns out that it was not so much the amount of time a finalist spent on his or her training, but rather it was the type of practice that mattered tremendously. Finalists that mostly used the third form of practice – the only activity that researchers define as deliberate practice – exceeded to further rounds far more often than any other kind of preparation. Interestingly enough, there was not a single link found between reading for fun and advancement to further rounds. Lastly, on average spellers rated deliberate practice as significantly less enjoyable than any other activity they did to prepare.
During my younger years, I really wanted to be a professional football player. Every day after school I would get my ball and play on the field behind our house. Sometimes with friends, but often, when there weren’t any friends willing to play, I’d just go out there alone. I’d practice my shooting by aiming at walls, threes, you name it. I think I must have spent hundreds of hours trying to get better. And yet I barely did.
One of the reasons is a severe lack of talent. But the other reason is my practice wasn’t deliberate. I didn’t set clearly defined stretch goals. I didn’t get immediate and informative feedback. There was no high concentration level. There was just a lot of repetition without reflection and refinement. It didn’t meet any of the criteria for deliberate practice.
So, what is deliberate practice?
Deliberate practice is a structured process with the specific intent to improve a skill. In order to become better at aiming your shots in football, it is important to set a clearly defined stretch goal: ‘Yesterday I hit the tree with 5 out of 10 shots. Today I’m going to hit it 6/10 shots or more.” It would have been better if I had a coached who gave me feedback. “Put your left foot next to the ball. Lean a little more backward and hit the ball with the inside of your instep.“ Stuff like that matters.
In order for practice to be deliberate it needs to meet the following conditions:
1. Clearly defined stretch goals
2. Immediate and informative feedback
3. A high concentration level
4. Repetition with reflection and refinement
In my next entry I’ll go over my process and how I incorporate deliberate practice in my study routine.
I´ve used this book as a source. I´d highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to improve their performance on and outside of the poker table.
July 11, 2020 | 3:53 p.m.
I wanted to do a quick re-evalution of the first six months of 2020. I'm very grateful for the place I'm in currently. My results have exceeded what I thought was possible by miles. I'm getting really close to high stakes, a place I'm eager to reach. The most important thing is that I gained self-trust. I know I'm still not there. I'm not even close. I still go out drinking on fridays only to regret it the next day. I still miss targets on a regular basis. But I'm more aware of the process and I'm grateful for where I am.
Exodus of the Microstakes Grinder
One other realization I had is that I'd like to help others out like some people have helped me out. I know I wouldn't have been close to where I wanted to be, if it wasn't for Saulo's blog for instance, that set me on the right track. Self-indulging as it may be, I'd like to be a person that helps others. Therefore, I'll be releasing a series of articles here with lessons that helped me get from where I was a year and a half ago to where I am now.
Lastly, If you are playing micro/lowstakes right now and are looking for some help, be sure to hit me up!
Note: I've updated the graph I posted here earlier. Initially I included hands without rake from GGPoker. I thought the difference would not be as big as I thought. It turns out they both take way more rake and give way less rakeback than I initially thought. Now I've taken these hands through a converter to give a clear representation of my results.
July 10, 2020 | 11:33 a.m.
A few months before I started this blog, I asked my wife (fiancee at the time) if she thought if she was okay with me taking 200 euro out of our savings account to play online poker with. She stared at me for a second. "I don't know,' she replied. "I just don't think we can afford it right now." She was right. At the time we had just moved because our previous landlord went bankrupt. She was still in college and I just started teaching. We didn't really have any money and the money that we did have we desperately needed for our wedding. I had to swear the money would be back into the savings account exactly one year later before she eventually (and reluctantly) agreed to let me deposit the money.
Lately i've been thinking a lot about that conversation. At the time, all I could think about was getting better, moving up and playing at a higher level. I worked full-time as a teacher and during the nights I spent my time studying all the material I could get my hands. The weekends I allowed myself one night off, the rest was packed with playing and studying. In the beginning I struggled a lot. There we're nights, around the time I started this blog, where I had lost and felt like giving up. It was hard. I remember numerous nights where I just stared at the ceiling of our tiny bedroom, asking myself if I'd ever be able to beat the micro's. The only thing that kept me going was my ambition
Now I'm at a point where I don't know what is next. I'm making more money clicking buttons online than I make at my job. But do I want to 'just' click buttons all day, every day? I'm not sure. I don't think I'm made for that. I love teaching and the fulfillment it gives me. I love the interaction, the a-ha moment when the student gets it. I love playing football with the boys during lunch breaks. I don't think I'm ready to give that part of my life up for just playing poker.
Right now I don't know what's next. I'm reducing my hours at work so I'll at least know what it's like to go semi-pro. I don't know if I'll ever go full-time pro thought. Maybe, at some point, I might get into coaching, so I can combine my poker-knowledge with my teaching skills and help others. I think I'd like that. But for now, i'll just stick to clicking buttons.
I'll leave you guys with my very first hand at 500nl.
June 28, 2020 | 10:05 a.m.
I guess I've seen the light
Last month I had my biggest month ever. I've been playing decent volume, especially after the lockdown set in. I managed to get to the 60.000 hands I wanted to play, but I didn't update my topic as often as I wanted, for which reason I'll give PrankCallRiver a free database review :). I'm also going to donate 250 euro to a good course. I'm not entirely sure which one, as I find a suitable one, I´ll let you guys know.
All in all I'm very thrilled since I've come a long way. The question that keeps popping into my head is: what's next? Honestly, thousands of thoughts have popped into my head. The most frequent recurring one: holy fuck, I could actually make it.
What I learned from playing poker all day
Well, that volume is overrated, still. In the beginning of the challenge I changed my schedule, I started playing more, studying less. This caused me to shift my focus more from my process to the results. Normally I have a very rigid study routine, so whenever I have a big losing streak, I can look myself in the mirror and say I'm doing everything I can to be a better player tomorrow, therefore I don't have to worry about shortterm results. After the lockdown hit, I started to let go of my regular schedule and instead started playing all day. In my defense: the incentives we're there. Anyone who's played a hand of online poker has noticed the games looked an awfull lot like I imagine they we're in 2005.
But I realized that just playing all day is not working for me. I like to study, figure shit out, and in return I have an easier time accepting losses as part of the game. On other words: when playing poker is all you do all day, you sorta want it to go well. When it's just a part of your day, it's easier to look at the bigger picture, at least for me.
So, what's next?
I honestly don't know. Within a few weeks my school is opening again and I can't wait to start teaching again. On the other hand I feel like I can do something bigger with my life, something that I couldn't ever do teaching. So, honestly, I don't know. I'd like to go pro one day, but I'll try to stay humble and take it one step at a time.
April 30, 2020 | 11:11 a.m.
It’s crazy what’s happening to the world at the moment. Cities, regions and even whole countries are in lockdown. People are not allowed out in the streets. It all feels pretty surreal. A few days ago we got the news that our country is in a state of lockdown as well. Every day more people are getting infected and every day more people are dying. I’m still young and healthy so I’m not that concerned for my life, but it scares me to think about family members that are already struggling with their health. For me personally this also means I can’t get into work for the next couple of weeks. It sucks, because I love my job, but it also gives me the chance to get some more volume in.
Since I haven’t been posting a lot here, so I decided to do a little volume challenge. I’m at a stage where I’m making some real improvements and I want to revive this thread a bit so someday I can look back at this journey and see what I was up to.
The challenge will be as follows:
- Play 60.000 hands before the end of april. This might not seem like a lot, but I get roughly 240 hands in per hour, so it actually is a lot.
- Post a weekly graph.
- Post a weekly article about a concept I’ve learned.
If I succeed, I will book a weekend away for me and my wife when everything is settled down.
If I fail however, I’ll donate 250 euro to a good cause and do a free database review for anyone who replies in this topic :)