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March 2019 Results- The 5 Stages of Learning Poker

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Just this past weekend I was watching my good friend John “BetOnDrew” Gonzalez playing in the $5000 Cage Match in Costa Rica.  In the Twitch chat a viewer in talking about another player (not competing in the Cage) who is also a poker coach said, “I’d never pay $200 for a coach…people who do that are idiots…why would I do that when I can learn myself?”That’s a great question and I at the last minute switched up what I want to talk about this month here in the blog.


In another Twitch chat as I was watching “BetOnDrew” or another member of the Thirst Lounge 10 this past month, someone else brought up the “4 Stages of Learning” which I first learned in high school psychology back in the early 1990’s.  This model was first taught in the late 1960’s by management trainer Martin M. Broadwell. 


The model says that to be competent at anything in life we go through 4 stages of learning…

1     1. Unconscious Incompetence- You don’t know what you don’t know.

2     2. Conscious Incompetence- You are aware of what you don’t know but you
      don’t know what to do about it.

3     3. Conscious Competence- You know what to do but it takes a lot of thought
     and concentration to do it. An example would be a kid first learning how to tie
     his or her shoes.  They can do it but it takes a lot of concentration to remember
     all the steps and then to actually perform them.

4    4. Unconscious Competence- You have become a master (or at least extremely
     proficient) at a task and can do it without much thought or effort.


Every great poker player goes through these stages. At first you don’t even know you have leaks in your game. Then you begin to realize you do but you’re not sure how to fix them.  Then you get educated in how to fix your leak but it’s still something you have to keep reminding yourself of over and over again how to play properly.  Finally, that skill or play becomes a natural part of your game that you don’t even think about anymore.


All the above got me to thinking about how most great players that I know went through 5 different stages that helped them get from level 2 (Conscious Competence) to Level 3 (Conscious Competence) and ultimately Level 4 (Unconscious Competence).


So here are my 5 Stages of Poker Learning:

1.      Personal Experimenting – As you begin being frustrated that you are losing
    all the time you begin to experiment…”Maybe I should play less/more
    hands…Maybe I should try a different bet size”, etc.  By trying new things you
    also begin to learn what works and what doesn’t. However many people will
    still have a nagging suspicion that there has to be more.  This leads them


2.     The Internet- A quick Google search and all of the sudden you have a wide
    variety of free articles, forums, chats, Youtube videos and now even Twitch
    streamers.  A tremendous amount of high quality advice for your poker
    game is available and it’s all there for FREE!  For many this is where the
    learning stops.  You learn a few tricks and tips and you’re satisfied. 

    However, for most while you might be moderately better it doesn’t mean
    you’re now a winning player, in fact the more you dive into all this free stuff
    the more you realize EVERYBODY has an opinion. It can sometimes be hard
    to separate out what is good advice from bad.  Just because someone has a
    big Twitch channel doesn’t mean they are a great player.  I’ve watched a few
    who are very entertaining but if you model your game after them you will
    learn a lot of bad poker stuff.  So this realization leads then to…


3.     Paid Content- The old axiom is true, “To make money you’ve got to be willing
    to spend money”.  At this point in your poker learning you are starting to
    buy books, courses or become a part of a training site.  Does this mean that
    everything you can pay for is worth it?  No, but 99% of it will be legit and
    your game will begin growing exponentially as you begin applying what
    you’re learning. 

    I know that’s what happened for me. I had been a small winning player for
    years but in 2012 as I started taking the game more seriously and began
    studying, my game grew leaps and bounds.  However, even in this you
    realize that books quickly get out-dated and that the courses are a
    somewhat cookie-cutter approach so to really amp up your game you’ll


4.     Personal Coaching- This gets back to the premise of this article…why would
    anyone ever pay for a coach?  The answer is quite simple!  Eventually to take
    your game to an even higher level you are going to want to have someone
    that can take you there.  Michael Jordan?  Yep had a coach.  Tiger Woods?
    Yep has a coach.  In poker a coach is able to help break-down your game and
    then build it back up to and even higher level.

    I’ve been fortunate enough through the years to have John “BetOnDrew
    Gonzalez (nearing 1 million in online cashes), Mike “Gags30Gagliano
    (WSOP bracelet winner and over 5 million in career cashes) and Alex
    “Assassinato” Fitzgerald (4 million in cashes and over 1000 students) all
    coach me.  None of these guys come cheap but I can say that they are worth
    every penny I spent because what they taught me and helped me to discover
    has paid itself back many, many times over.

    Here is another way to think about it, especially if you are a losing player. 
    Long-term what is better?  To keep losing money or to take that same
    amount I would have lost and instead invest it in a coach?  Pride says, “I can
    figure it out on my own”, wisdom says, “I should ask for help”. 

    All that to say that I am proud to announce that starting today I will be
    offering coaching to anyone who would like it for only $500 per hour!
    **Some restrictions apply, see the end of the post for more details. Oh and
    you’re welcome for this!


5.     Community- In this final stage (which for some may have come earlier) you
    find a group of poker friends that are on your level or even better and
    together you talk about poker, share hand histories and discuss strategies
    for what is working and what’s not. #BetterTogether



As for my March 2019, grind it was swingy.  I started out the first half of the month hot and then variance hit me hard the last half.  One of my favorite things to say is, “Sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield.”  The last 2 Sunday’s of the month killed me, including just yesterday a top full house loss to quads and another full house loss to a straight flush…I definitely got splattered at the end but somehow eeked out a barely profitable month.  In any case, it’s been nice to be on a 4 month in a row win streak so let’s hope it continues in April.


Here is March’s breakdown…


150..…Tournaments Played
48…....Cashes (32%)
13..…. Final Tables
4.......Top 3 Finishes


$5798.43 in total cashes (2.3% ROI)



Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.


Merge Lifetime Total: $546936.65
Career Lifetime Total: $617684.55
Career number of Cashes: 4821


Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor

Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.


**As for coaching go back and read it again carefully. Take note of the bolded letters.  🙂



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