My New Year's Poker Resolutions
In the upcoming year, I want to dedicate more of my time to studying poker and less of it to playing.
Given that I have structured my life in a way that I don't need to earn a lot of money, I think I should be using this opportunity to take time off and improve in a way that many others just cannot afford to do. My primary reason for wanting to do this is that I believe I am currently making mistakes that are hindering my progress.
I resolve to spend more time doing purposeful practice in order to create a dynamic default game plan, to focus on quickly executing that game plan and developing more reads during play, and to making adjustments as needed after each session in preparation for the next.
Here are the reasons I chose each of these poker resolutions.
1. Create a dynamic default game plan
The main reason I need a default strategy in the first place is that my game of choice is online tournaments. I play up to six of these at a time. This prevents me from giving my undivided attention to any one table.
Of course, I can take a quick glance at the screen and focus on a table when I am in a hand, but I've come to believe that many of us tend to underestimate the importance of information in the hands we don't play. Sure, HUD stats can help, but they cannot show us who is showing signs of tilt after losing a big pot or the texture of the boards that a player has chosen to continuation bet.
I believe that these things, most of which happen when we are not in hands, should guide our play more than the things that happen during our hands. The trends that develop over the 10 to 20 most recent hands lead to better assumptions than the one snapshot we get once we finally get a playable hand and start paying attention.
My goal in 2018 is to create a game plan off the felt to make most of my in-hand decisions so automatic that I can pay less attention to the hands in which I don't fold and more to the hands in which I do.
2. Focus on quickly executing that game plan and developing more reads during play
In the coming year, I also want to focus primarily on executing the game plan I previously created regardless of results.
In the past, something would happen at the table to cause me to play as if I'd never studied poker a day in my life. Sometimes I'd feel like a guy was coming after me and I would respond in a way that was more based on emotion than math. Other times, I would get bored due to being card dead and play hands I normally wouldn't play.
Sure, sometimes people are coming after me and sometimes I should play a wider range, but there is never a reason to throw the baby out with the bath water.
The game plan accounts for those incremental adjustments provided I have seen evidence that they are necessary. The problem is that with my limited attention span, I cannot see that evidence on the five tables where I've folded unless I employ a dynamic game plan on the one table where I have action.
3. Make adjustments as needed after each session in preparation for the next
After my sessions, I need to do a better job of reviewing my hand histories to ensure I stuck to the plan and using programs like Flopzilla to reassess the plan. My goal is to make sure the plan is solid and to correct course if it is not.
During this time, I will also test the plan using one of several simulation programs like Advanced Poker Trainer because I can run through hands much more quickly using these tools than by playing another real tournament.
In 2018, I want to think of myself as two separate people with two separate jobs. Yes, I am the player whose job it is to execute the game plan. But more importantly, I am the coach whose job it is to come up with the plan, evaluate the execution, and make adjustments to plan in preparation for the next game.