05/06/2008

Keeping the Finger on the Pulse

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

I have often said that the more you understand poker then the more you will see valid comparisons in other fields of endeavour. For instance my significant other half always tells me that the key to sales is to try to tap in to what people really want and then give it to them at a price that is at least competitive. But also to keep your finger on the pulse in order to recognise the subtle changes in fashions and styles and how these affect peoples choices.

This leads me to use this as an analogy with poker players or more to the point successful poker players. The overriding question that must always be asked is “can I always be successful doing what I am doing and if not then how long will it last and how will I recognise the end when it comes and know that it is either time to change or move on”.

There is no doubt that poker like most fields is in a constant state of change. But the good news is that whenever you find change then you will find opportunity. But the evolutionary process in poker has taken a massive quantum leap during the past few years and this has meant that many of the older guard have been left behind somewhat.

The fact of the matter is now that you simply cannot always presume that just because you have been successful in the past that you will continue to be so in the future. Poker when done properly and professionally is a business after all and like with all businesses, you can never guarantee what next year will bring.

Just because you are killing those $1-$2 PLO games at this moment in time does not mean that you will still be doing so next year or you might not be beating them at all but just on the right side of variance. Players getting better at PLO, expanded use of HUD’s and tracking software etc will all contribute to changing that particular environment at that level.

But the forever moving sand dune that is poker can leave previously winning players scratching their heads as to why their success isn’t continuing. Take online poker for instance, in theory we have a virtual representation of poker but people on the inside track know the reality of it and that it is almost two totally separate environments when we talk about live poker and online poker.

But jumping into online poker with very little knowledge of what actually happens online just because of success based on live play results is akin to a successful businessman opening up a second business in a field that they have little experience of based purely and simply because they have been previously successful “in business”.

When you do this then there is no law that says that you cannot be successful but you are increasing the risk that you won’t be. But there is an awful lot of conceit in business and in poker and I think that one of the biggest steps you can take not just in poker but in life in general is to lose the conceit and stop thinking that you will always be successful just because you appear so great in your own mind. Psychologists call this the “idealised self image” but it is definitely pertinent to poker because there are so many ego’s in poker that it beggars belief. But it’s OK to talk the talk to your mates but the danger is when you don’t realise what the truth is yourself.

This is why I think that any player who is serious about making money in poker not just in the present but in the future as well has got to make a serious effort to continue their education and to get that education from as many different sources as possible. I suppose that I am lucky because I almost have an addiction to reading and studying gambling material (many would call that unlucky but I enjoy it so who gives a damn) and this for me always leaves me in a situation where I know what is going on.

Whether it is because I know certain people, talk to certain people, join in forums, read books or whatever, I am constantly probing and exploring and trying to ascertain whether I am in fact wasting my time doing what I am doing. It really doesn’t matter whether you are playing SNG’s tournaments, cash games, full ring, heads up or whatever, you must always remember that you are immersed in an ever changing environment and while that will bring opportunity and reward if identified properly, it will also bring danger and heartache for all those players who fail to adjust and adapt.

If you want to know how to succeed in poker then here it is, it is no magic portion or system or some golden book that will reveal all. Simply lose the ego and work damn hard and NEVER stop working and you will be successful making money in poker in some capacity because hard work and perseverance usually get rewarded.

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