Thursday, January 7, 2016

Playing your A-Game

When I first started to play Poker, I was mostly a proponent of 10,000 Hours of Practice/Play to excel at something. Yes, I still believe in the 10,000 Hours Principle. BUT, the Quality of your game play is more important the number of hours that you play.

I do something or I not do it at all. So when I became serious about playing and specialize in HU LHE. I was all about playing, playing, and playing. Which quickly became playing while watching TV, playing while risking to be interrupted, and worse of all, playing when tilting. I soon realized -- after re-caving several times my bankrupted play money bankroll -- that the more I played the more I became prone to self-destruction.

The more I played, the more I tilted, the more I was convinced that I sucked at poker, the more my bankroll suffered. Thank god it was only play money.

Happily, I've finally found light in the following affirmation.

Always Play Your A-Game: Your goal should be to only play poker when you're at your best. 

Thanks to this excellent post: SNG Tips: Play your A-game all the time. Ways to increase your ROI. I just realized, a couple of weeks ago, that the TV should be off when I am playing and that I should be 100% focused, physically and psychologically, on my game and my opponent.

Here are some insights from SNG Tips.

Just because you are a winning player, don't start thinking that all you need to do to win is show up with a mouse in your hand. Your full attention needs to be on the game. You should never have the TV on. 

You need to do everything you can to keep your body and brain 100% in poker playing mode. You need to be aware of the game flow, your current image and who else might be on tilt. You need to be noticing how your opponents play and take quality notes on them. You also may need to be actively table selecting.

Your goal should be to reach "flow state". Some people refer to it as being "in the zone".
from wikipedia:

Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.  Colloquial terms for this or similar mental states include: to be "on the ball", "in the zone", or "in the groove".

Once you're in the zone, don't allow distractions to pull you out of it.

Some tips to play your A-game and be "in the zone".
  • Avoid distraction at all cost. No TV, web surfing, facebooking, chatting, etc...
  • Do not play when tired, unwell, drunk, or stone.
  • Do not chase a bonus or any kind of volume goal.
  • DO NOT PLAY WHEN LOSING. Since losing means tilting, losing confidence and chasing losses.

Make sure that you are alert and able to play your A-Game whenever you join a table. Your wallet will benefit!

Yes, I'm still an advocate of The 10,000 Hours Principle BUT playing your A-Game is a lot better for your bankroll and your confidence.

Phil Ivey 's commitment to excellence

If you need further proof, just take a look at the almighty Phil Ivey. Phil Ivey is the king of "stop losses" online. He practices the "reverse hit and run" when facing the best players in the world at the super high stakes heads up games at Full Tilt Poker. Which mean that he leaves a session when losing as low as one buy-in.

On the flip side, Phil Ivey will ride out a winning session until he's too exhausted to continue. 

Thanks to his commitment to only play when winning, Phil Ivey has been the number one earner in online poker history despite playing about 10% as much as players such as Tom Dwan, Phil Galfond, and CTS. He doesn't succumb to tilt, he merely turns off the computer and comes back at a different time when he is more focused.

Zero tilt factor for Ivey

With that in mind, I doubt that Tom "durrr" Dwan played more than 10-20 hours a day. So if you play 10% of 10-20 hours, you can get away with playing 1-2 hours a day playing your A-game only. 

You must ALWAYS play your A-game.

Quality over Quantity

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