There was a brief moment at the Cherokee WSOPc where I got to really experience the excitement of being at a major event with friends.* Coming out of a break I darted over to 1dullgeek's table to check on his stack,* he was sitting on about 150k in chips in the 8 max event while I had amassed 43k in a very soft plo8 field.* After a brief discussion we ended with a fist bump and a lets do this.* The rush of knowing we both were one double from serious contention in fields with nice prize pools was intense and invigorating.*
Then just as fast as it began it was over for me.* *About 25 min into the next set of levels, I missed on a freeroll for a scoop,* lost to a short stack all in with AK27s and then got in good for my tourney life only to lose to runner runner wheel against A225.* I busted 8 from the money in one of my favorite tourney formats, and I was crushed.* 1dullgeek managed to last much longer but ran into a similar fate, after flopping a set and losing to a 2 outer river followed by getting kings all in against A-10 only to see the ace spike the flop.
I remembered telling my wife it was going to be a long trip home,* but to my surprise it wasn't.* *As I started the 9.5 hour trek home,* I fired up some poker podcasts, mainly to take my mind off things.* For the first few I honestly was not even listening much to the content,* the particular podcast I was listening to was geared at beginning players,* and I really was just using it for background noise.* I began to think about what I always see and feel when i go to a WSOPc..* I always think to myself that "I am good enough to win one of those events".* *Honestly I don't believe that to be hyperbole.* I really do feel that way, and am confident that is the case.
The problem though, is one common to poker players.* It is confusing potential with expectation.* A simple explanation of the problem comes with pocket aces.* We have the potential to win with aces between 80-92% of the time, but our expectation is that we should win with them 100% of the time.* So often we enter fields that we know we have the potential to win, but then leap to expecting to win them.* Now there is nothing wrong in confidence or believing in yourself,* where the problem lies is when we merely satisfied with having "potential" to win, and we stop pushing to improve that potential.* This was roughly my 30th WSOPc event.* I have 3 final tables,* 7 or so cashes,* and 1 chop.* Why have I not taken one down if I have the potential to win one outright?*
Well the obvious answer is 30 is a ridiculously small sample size, and the 3 final tables, 7 cashes and 1 chop say nothing about whether my ability is good or bad, I could just have run really well.* Coming home on the drive though I started to wrestle with a question.* As I look at the elite players online and live, what is the gap between them and me?* I started to look at some of the obvious shortcomings... Bankroll,* some of these guys can fire 4 bullets in a tourney and not even flinch with their bankrolls,* this is an obvious advantage.* *Friends,* some of these guys are parts of 10-12 people crews who study together,* coach each other, train competitively...* *Health.* Fitness is all the rage in poker these days, and while there are definitely successful players who don't have fit in their vocabulary, the advantages of being healthy and full of the right energy necessary to sustain 12 hours of play in a day cannot be denied.* Experience,* I don't care who you are the first few final tables of any major tourney series can be tense.* The more you do it the more comfortable you get.* *
Talent....* *Wait a minute I am talented...* I have over 300k in online earnings, I already mentioned 3 WSOPc final tables!* Some people don't have one...* I have final tabled the sunday storm on poker stars... I am a MOSS Champion(this is all sarcasm in case you don't have a meter).* *I do have talent, but what happens to so many players is they decide talent is enough, they decide potential is enough, and they stop getting better.**
The truth is I did not get much studying done in November,* now there were some very practical reasons for this, it wasn't just deciding I was going to grind myself into the ground and ignore study.* I did still take occasional periods aside to contemplate poker theory and strategy,* but I put extra time into building my stream, and into getting prepped for vacation that took away from study time in November.* I knew coming back in December I was going to be doing more studying,* but it was the second half of the trip that changed everything for me.
As I switched to a poker podcast with more advanced strategy,* I started hearing the buzz words that had me so excited about study in September and October.* I started remembering the fun of getting into detailed hand reading analysis,* how much fun it can be to interpret blockers and bet sizing,* how to really become exploitative when your heads up with certain opponent types.* *I began to think about how many hours in the last 6 weeks I played sub-optimally because I was on auto pilot, or I wasn't truly engaged to hands.* It's not like I didn't make money in the last 2 months, but with every successive podcast the whole picture started coming together.* I want my potential and my expectations to align, and I don't want to settle with "having the potential to win" I want to have the best potential to win of anyone I am up against.* Those are two different things.**
Now to be fair, that is an absurd declaration to make in any field.* In reality most tourneys probably have several elite players who are separated by very very tiny edges that couldn't possibly be measured, and any one of them could out play another on any given day.* Yet how many poker players cannot even reach that elite status because once they become good, they are satisfied.* Once they are no longer dead money, they have achieved their own personal elite status, and the focus shifts from getting better to cutting their teeth and proving they belong.* I am always vulnerable to this because of my competitive nature and my passionate drive,* but it is time that I turn those weaknesses into strengths and channel them into study.* Not just studying poker in general, but getting on the cutting edge of poker study and getting ahead of the curve.* Being willing to take risks on trying new things and becoming a part of what evolves poker instead of always keeping up with the latest trends.
Prior to Black Friday there was an 8$ rebuy on poker stars that I managed to chop on 2 different occasions.* At the time I was into writing and I remember writing an article about things I learned in poker, that actually got acknowledged and nominated for an award.* There was one particular part of the article that got criticized though.* It was regarding being outside the box.* I talked about how I had shifted to min raising in the mid-late stages of tournament play,* because I was seeing no difference in fold equity(I was actually getting lots of fold equity to min raises back then)* and thus there was no point to raising to 3x given the amount of times I was opening in this tourney.* *People pitched a huge fit talking about how ridiculous it was to raise anything less then 3x pre-flop, and how bad of a play it was.**Fast forward several years and we can laugh about this, as 2-2.2x raises pre-flop are practically standard now.* *
When I busted that WSOPc,* I felt awful, I felt like a huge opportunity was lost, and I felt like I had failed,* but coming home I realized that this may have been the highest EV result possible.* I am coming home now with the dream more real to me then ever before,* I want to get back there, and I want to do it with ample bankroll, ample bullets, and with a potential that is as close to it's ceiling as possible.* *I am coming home now with a healthy view of what it takes to be elite and the desire and commitment to make it happen.* As a result* I am setting a goal of streaming 12 study sessions in December.* Most will be during the day, and while I realize not everyone can watch during the day, VODs and you-tube are things of beauty.* I feel that this will allow my awesome followers and my friends to hold me accountable.* All my goals for December are going to be study based,* I am making 0 volume or profit goals.* *I truly believe with this approach, the results will speak for themselves....
You can watch these study sessions and more by following the PokerPastor at twitch.tv/PokerPastor