15/05/2008

Going Your Own Way

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

I have a poker buddy who lives just a few doors away from me. In fact “poker buddy” is probably the wrong word as we are not really mates but he found out about my involvement in poker by recognising me on a website and he just put two and two together. But we differ greatly in terms of knowledge and ability and so we should, I would be a bit miffed if I knew that someone who had only been studying poker for a few months was already better than me.

But he sometimes calls around to my place for a chat (mainly poker) and he cannot fail to see poker books and magazines strewn around on my desk which is attached to my dining room. Because of his knowledge about me, he assumes that any book that I must be reading is “the book” to have.

The funny part of all this is that I went around to his place a week or so ago and spotted several of the books that had been on my desk in his place. He had gone out and purchased the books that he had seen me reading despite me telling him numerous times that I read books for specifically designed reasons plus I read poker and gambling stuff in my downtime anyway as it not only keeps my mind on the job but I still pick up things even now that I didn’t pick up the last time that I read the book.

But I have my own way of reading books anyway. Many novices read books and then blindly copy what is in the book or at least try to and to be fair, this is what I did years ago. It is better to copy a successful style from someone else when all you have is a losing style than non at all. But when I read books or view coaching websites then I am looking to spot something that can be fitted into my overall style of play but in most cases, if I do get something of real use that can help my game, it hasn’t come directly from that book or video.

This may sound strange but quite often I hear or read something that sets me thinking about something else and that triggers my thought processes going down a certain path and the idea or improvement to my game has not actually come from that source but it was that source that triggered a certain line of thought. I am sure that this has happened to many people and it happened to me recently when I re-read The Theory of Poker By David Sklansky for the first time in several years and something came to me like a bolt from the blue with regards very tight middle limit games.

But these days I would no longer call myself a professional player as my entire week is balanced far more and writing and research takes up a fair amount of my time now. But on my travels (virtual travels), it is amazing just how many great websites are out there and it makes you think, is it any wonder why online players are getting so good.

I already knew about Royal Flush Club from one of my students who had asked me to take a look at it and it was on this site that I first tried out Poker Edge for free which is a great piece of software that scouts games for you. I know that many players have problems with getting to grips with tracking software properly and this is the good thing about Poker Edge in my opinion. But these sites are fantastic for your game and overall improvement and for anyone who thinks that there is only Card Runners out there then they are sadly mistaken.

But... It is still vitally important once you get to a certain level to go your own way. Certain styles do not fit well with everyone, many players cannot multi-table or they don’t like it. Certain approaches to bankrolls work for some yet would not work for others. If you are going to adopt a certain method in poker then there are two very important rules to follow.

  1. It has to work
  2. It has to work for you personally.

Many people find number 1 just by following advice and coaching material but many never find number two. Another reason for why I am still a huge and avid reader is to do with finding out what the poker masses are thinking and doing. Of course, this means looking at something that is very widely viewed or read like the Harrington series or Supersystem or Card Runners etc.

This is another reason even for successful players to continue their education. In my mind, this should be an ongoing process and if it isn’t then you need to make it so. But I am also an avid sports bettor which I am sure a few of you know from my comments on the non poker side of the forum. But if you are always coming to the same opinions as everyone else then how much of an edge can you have even if you are right?

At the end of the day, there is only so much money to go round whether it is in sports betting or poker or whatever. When too many people start operating in the same way then two things will happen. Firstly, your chances of advancement beyond a certain point (whatever that is) are limited unless you change and that does not mean just technically either but also psychologically.

The knock on effect from this is that your earnings here and now will likely peak and then increase no further and then slowly decrease unless you change something. The second point is that if your methods are too widely known then there will be a severe danger of you simply playing the same way as everyone else. In this article I have mentioned The Theory of Poker and most people on here will be aware of Sklansky’s fundamental theorem.

Well here is my own theorem and we can call it THE DEANS FUNDAMENTAL ADDED THEOREM.

  1. Find a method of playing poker that is successful and earns money
  2. Then try to make sure this method is at the very least not widely used and if at all possible... unique to you.

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