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  1. 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 to… 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 need… 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 “Gags30” Gagliano (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 0……Wins $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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