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Evaluating My SCOOP Performance
The Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) is here. With it's arrival comes the need to take your game a little more seriously and sort out any laziness that might have developed since those 'unbreakable' New Year's Resolutions fell by the wayside. One integral part of developing a professional attitude to poker is the ability to objectively review your own performances in a constructive way. This is not as easy as it sounds. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of analysing your game during and after this year's SCOOP.

Results are Meaningless

A common pitfall exhibited my students is the addiction to results. If something went wrong, the student thinks it must be his fault.
  • "Of course! That bluff was a terrible idea – it got called!"
  • "I busted with JJ again so I must be awful at playing that hand."
  • "I won a tournament – I am an utter god."
All three of these statements are likely nonsense. Many terrible bluffs work just as many good bluffs get called. We bluff against Villain's range, not his exact hand, for we do not have the psychic skills needed to determine the latter.

JJ is a just a starting hand, no matter how badly we handle it, it will not always be the hand we bust on. No matter how well we play JJ, we will often bust with it. Many horrible players have won tournaments – that's what keeps them coming back.

All three of these statements are based on the very natural human process of consequence analysis. We do this all of the time in real life to great effect because in real life, the consequences we cause are usually good evidence for how well we handled something.
  • "I got that job. I must have performed well at the interview."
  • "I made him upset, I shouldn't have said that."
  • "I need an ambulance. I should have looked before I ran into the road to grab that hundred-dollar bill"
All three of these are likely to be true and justified. When analysing a poker hand, however, we must rewind to before we learned what Villain had or saw the outcome of our play.

We must ask how reasonable or unreasonable our actions were based on the information had at the time and nothing else. Next time you are in a similar spot, you will not have the luxury of knowing that Villain was bluffing, so do not use information gained after a decision as evidence for or against that the validity of that decision.

Evaluate your Mental-Game

Critiquing your performance in a constructive way is not all about the technical play of a hand. How you managed your own mental game is equally important. SCOOP events are long and gruelling. You will go through the emotional blender at certain points, this is a certainty, but how you react to that and bounce back is up to you.

After a tournament, it is very tempting to focus solely on the hand that caused you to bust or the bluff that didn't work. While these events could just be the result of bad variance, the fact that you let yourself become so afraid of the bubble that you tightened up and made a series of debatable folds is entirely on you. The drop in your level of attentiveness at the start of level 11 was caused by you being card dead during level 10. As a result, your mind switched off and this is something you can prevent next time by reminding yourself that during downtime it is essential to take notes on the opponents.

Did tilt ruin a promising event once again? Why did that happen? What were your emotions like and what caused them? Why was your response irrational and what could you say to yourself next time to recover more quickly?

These are all questions that most of us forget to ask. Stand out from the field by evaluating your mental performance this SCOOP.

Evaluate your Practical Game

The practical game covers anything that is not technical or mental. How you warm up for an event; your diet during a long tournament, your game selection; the level of disturbance from your family during the event, and many more practical factors like these are often neglected during post-tournament analysis. However, when you add all of these little things together, you have the makings for a big increase in your ROI (average return on investment from playing a tournament.)

Try to ask yourself the following questions after one SCOOP event and before the next:
  • Did my playing environment allow for me to be fully comfortable, relaxed, and free from distraction? If not, how could I improve this for the next event?
  • Did I have an adequate supply of food and drinks at all times?
  • Have the tournaments I've chosen thus far been well suited to my skill-set as a poker player?
  • Did I get enough sleep before the tournament to prepare me for a long battle?
  • Was I focussed during the tournament or often distracted by other things on my computer?


If you currently do none of the things recommended in this article, fear not! The SCOOP is the perfect platform to get off on the right foot for the rest of 2019. See you at the tables.
Have you cashed in any SCOOP events yet?
Leave a comment below if you have.

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