09/03/2009

What the Books don't Teach You: Part One

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

There was a thread started last week on the forum about cash game poker books. This sort of led me into this article because poker books are a major learning source for so many people who attempt to learn the game. I have read more poker books than I can care to remember but looking back, there are few that I can honestly recommend that would help and assist an online player to earn significant money today.

Years ago of course, poker books were all you had to go on and a day would hardly go by where I wouldn’t have my nose in either a book by Sklansky or Ciaffone. These days we have poker training sites to facilitate us in our quest for poker expertise and these are the next evolutionary step up the poker training ladder.

But in my opinion, most of the videos that I have seen suffer from the same flaw that poker books did in so much as they don’t identify just what type of game is suited to a players individual personality. I am not knocking the coaching sites, their material is excellent most of the time and the tutors can be the best in the business. But the problem here is that the guys who make the videos and who write the books for that matter rarely get to understand the people who buy them on a personal one to one level.

You simply cannot blindly follow someone else and expect to automatically be successful. You could be successful but that success is going to depend on other variables that are above and beyond the quality of the videos or books in question.

I really think that most people have it in them to make money at poker. The players who are very bad at it and who are losing a lot of money are doing so for a reason that has nothing to do with them being incapable of making money playing poker. When you start out on the road to where you want to be... a winning poker player... then you have three basic goals that you need to achieve in order to find that success.

  1. You need to either devise or find a proven methodology that works.
  2. Whatever this methodology is or where you got it from is academic but it then has to fit your personality.
  3. A true and proper understanding and experience of variance.

Nearly all people find goal number one sure enough and especially these days. All they have to do is sign up to a good poker training site and within a very short space of time their knowledge will be quantum leaped to a level that poker books would have barely touched a few years ago.

Most people who cannot devise their own successful style of play or who don’t have the confidence to attempt this merely seek out knowledge from people who do know who are proven in their field. This is a process that has been replicated over thousands of years...if you don’t have the knowledge for yourself...shorten the process by buying it! There is absolutely nothing wrong with this and why not stand on the shoulders of other peoples expertise if it assists you in getting to where you need to be faster.

But goal number two is somewhat more tricky and requires you to know yourself and nobody can really help you with this and you are essentially on your own. The vast majority of people who read poker books do not make money playing poker... does this mean that poker books are rubbish?

Because poker training sites are basically nothing more than the next evolutionary step with regards teaching people about poker then I would be very much surprised if the majority of players who subscribe end up being winning players. This is because they are still not tuning into point number two.

I honestly think that most successful winning poker players don’t fully comprehend just why they are winning. If you asked someone who was say winning money consistently over several thousand games at heads up SNG’s how and why they were winning, many would cite the following reasons (all of which would be correct), good game selection, joined a good coaching site, good bankroll management, using Sharkscope, watching and feeling players out during actual play and the list goes on.

But what this player may and probably in most cases does not realise is that there is an underlying reason why they are playing HUSNG’s in the first place. If you then asked this player just why they were playing this particular form of poker they may just turn around and tell you “because I have an edge playing them”.

Well I think we have already ascertained that judging by the fact that their record stretches over several thousand games. But there are reasons for why this player has settled on this form of poker. By sheer definition, in most cases the player has ended up playing these because they weren’t successful at something else. In some cases it’s because they are bored or maybe it’s something else but in nearly all cases it tends to be a lack of success at a different form of poker. I will continue this topic next week in part two.

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