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    Alex Fitzgerald
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    <a href="http://www.assassinatopoker.blogspot.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">www.assassinatopoker.blogspot.com</a>
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    Traveling, reading, and working out.
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    NL/PL HE MTTs, $100 and over


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    118 (2009)


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Latest post

  1. One of the characteristics of poker I have always loved is how multi-faceted it is. In many games of skill I played before poker, even those with steep learning curves, once I mastered them I quickly became bored with them. In poker it is impossible to ever master the game completely, and the game is constantly changing. There are so many variations of poker, and all of them can be changed by countless variables. What country you are playing in, how many players are at the table, what site you are on, the ante structure, and many other conditions can affect the play of a game. Many times during your poker journey, whether you are a professional or a serious amateur, you will likely contemplate switching to a new game. Maybe the game you used to be killing has been filled with so many sharks that your edge isn't as huge as it used to be. Maybe how much time during the day you have to play poker has changed. Maybe what times you want to play has changed. Maybe your bankroll isn't what it used to be. Hell, maybe you're just bored. If you're looking to change games, there are different ways you can do it. Some people are comfortable with just waking up one day, jumping on every table featuring their new game of choice, and seeing what happens. For some sick naturals this is all they need to do, and quickly they find just jumping into the pool without looking worked out for them. If you're like me though, and you're a little more anal about losing money while you're learning, a more measured approach will probably work better for you. The following are some guidelines I have always followed while I am learning a new game, and they have worked well for me. 1. Get Off Your Dead Ass and Study Many poker players are inherently lazy. Many of us prefer to learn games and other things in our lives by just doing them, come whatever may, and learning from our mistakes. If you actually want to learn a new game, however, you can significantly increase your development by studying before you play. Yes, it's not fun sitting down during the afternoon and reading a book by that riveting wordsmith we know as David Sklansky. Yes, many huge names such as Phil Ivey have said in interviews they have never read a poker book. I am not Phil Ivey, though, and neither are you. I like money too, and whatever edge or lesson I can get without paying for it is one I am going to take. If you are looking to learn a new game, you should bury yourself in what knowledge is already out there. Spend the money on the training sites and commit to watching a new video every morning. Take notes while you are doing it and review them. Go onto poker forums and read through hand histories and read the hand analysis people have posted. Don't forget to check your sources. Many people act like they know what they are talking about when they don't have a clue. Make sure the analysis you absorb is by someone who is a winning and respected player. Go get whatever poker books are out there on your game and read them. Check to see on poker forums if many winning poker players recomend the books. There are many poker books out there that are written by writers who are wannabe poker players that are just completely terrible. Don't waste your time and money on those. Don't get lazy or cocky if things start going well in your new venture. You can't control how much natural talent you were born with, but you can control how much time you put into this. Work harder than the other guy and keep improving. 2. Play Smaller Sessions, Focus, and Review When I played SNGs for a living, I would play 24 at a time, but I didn't just start out mega-multitabling. I started with four, and I would try to make the best play every time, and as I became more comfortable I gradually added tables. Just because you 12-table MTTs right now doesn't mean you can necessarily 12-table cash games. When you're starting to learn a new game, play fewer tables and focus more on each individual hand. Apply the concepts you have learned and try to play mistake-free poker. Every so often, take a break and review hands where you found yourself in spots that were uncomfortable. Think about what you did wrong and what you did right, and try to keep improving. As you feel more comfortable with your new game, you can add more tables and play longer sessions. 3. Drop Down and Keep Good Records Unless you're some phenom, you're going to be making a bunch of mistakes when you start playing a new game. Make those mistakes cost less by dropping down. Be a professional and realize you are still learning. Don't think of it as an admittance of weakness, and if other players give you crap about it, just ignore them. It would be particularly foolish if you started playing as high as you could possibly play (or a little higher) and taking a serious blow to your bankroll playing a new game you KNEW you didn't know how to play. When you are playing, keep very detailed records of how long your sessions are, how many hands you are playing, and how much you are earning. If you're playing cash games, figure out how many big blinds per 100 hands you are making. If you are playing tournaments, figure out what your ROI is. Once you are achieving an ROI or hourly rate you find to be adequate at the lower level, you can move up, assuming your bankroll is big enough to do so. If you are playing MTTs, it will be difficult to calculate your ROI right away accurately, as it takes a very large sample to figure out what you are truly capable of earning. You will need to find other ways of checking your play before you can decide you are good enough to move up. 4. Find Good Poker Friends One of the ways you can check yourself is by finding someone who can go over hands with you and tell you if you are playing correctly. Yes, it is helpful to watch training videos and watch pros handle a number of different situations. What if you have one specific spot that you want to look into right now though? You can't call most of those guys who do those videos up at this very moment could you? So what should you do? Just file that question in your mind and forget about it? No, get some friends who know what they are doing in the game, talk to them, and figure it out. If you see some guy really destroying the game you are learning, why not try talking with him and getting his AIM? What do you really have to lose? Sure, many players (including myself) get tons of requests for IM conversations a day, and many of them won't give you their AIM, but eventually someone will. Maybe you will introduce some concepts to them they haven't thought about too. Maybe you can help them with a game you are proficient at but they are not. Hell, last year I helped certain novices out with poker because they got me on the guest list for some parties. I help another guy because he has helped me immeasurably as far as managing my finances and my emotions. Find something you can offer, get the information you need, improve, destroy. Why do you think so many poker players come from certain areas specifically? Do you think all the guys in Waterloo never talked to each other? It's the Mayfair club effect; by working with other players, you can open up your mind to several different views on the game and see into the areas that you are missing. 5. Set Achievable Goals As you are learning, set goals for yourself that you believe are achievable. Don't just have one large and vague goal that you have no idea how to achieve. Make a gameplan. What do you want to accomplish this month? How are you going to do it? There is a ton of literature on goal setting as it pertains to the business world - go out there and pick one or two books up and use them to map out your own plan. Remember your goal every day, and remind yourself of what your big goal is. Visualize where you want to be next year, and then realize that it's not impossible; it's just going to take hard work which you are perfectly capable of doing. Then focus on what you want to get done this month and today, then do it damnit. Learning how to become good at any poker game is not easy or fun. It is a lot of hard work. Many people like to talk about how the game is rigged or if they had the luck of so-and-so they could be successful. These are excuses. If you have not put in the hard work and have not challenged yourself to get better every day, then you do not deserve it, and saying anything else is ignorant and foolish. It takes more than just sitting in front of a monitor for hours at a time to become profitable in this game. What are you doing during those hours? If you want to get good, there are no easy tracks. Put in the hours, have a gameplan, and do the hard work. Don't be afraid of failing. Be afraid of not trying, not giving it your all. Don't get down on yourself either. When Edison was asked how he continued working on the light bulb after failing over a thousand times, he replied, "I did not fail a thousand times; I learned a thousand ways that didn't work." You might not agree with everything I have said in this article, but I have found these methods to work well for me when picking up a new game. I hope I have given you some new ideas on how to approach poker if you are planning to transition to a new game, or maybe just a few ideas on how to improve in the game you are playing right now. Good luck to you all, -Alex

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