Progress Report: How To Improve My Game

January 31st, 2015


January, 2015 has been quite the month. From the slaughter of human lives in Paris by Islamic terrorists to known fanatical cells through Belgium, across Europe, to Australia. Those of us in North America also live under an imminent threat and I don’t just mean the United States. Indeed four months prior Canada witnessed a lone terrorist killing of Corporal Nathan Cirillo by a Canadian citizen who had recently converted to Islamic terrorism. This killing is reportedly tied to an incident earlier in the week in Quebec where a man in a car deliberately ran down and killed two members of our Military. And with Canadian forces currently facing armed combat with Isis, fearing the risk of retaliation by this barbaric terrorist force is not an act of catastrophizing. 

So while we must submerge such fears in order to cope in a healthy way while defeating ‘Muslimphobia’ consciously, what better way than poker where our intellects and emotions are so absorbed, so much so that I was shocked to receive a message that I was back up to a Silver Star. It sure didn’t feel like I played a lot as fatigue continues to set in easily for me.

On a lighter note, I am an unequivocal hypocrite! In my last blog, I wrote. “And for now, I think I will not be playing Spin & Go as it is just too easy to unnecessarily lose money, with no real poker skills to be gained, as I see it.” Somehow my logic did not stop me from playing this game and between those and fewer Sit & Goes I am plus $380. Frankly Spin & Goes have had their value for my game: with only 3 of us at the felts, I consciously take note of who will open almost all hands, then fold to a hefty 3-bet; those who are cautious; those whom I watch go all-in, as I have folded from the get go, and at showdown time, their bets are in typically something like Ts 9C, while another may only go all-in with AA,KK,QQ, perhaps losing to Jx Ts 9c 8x 7x!

From $10 Zoom buy-in, I garnered $207, a total of plus $587 for January, 2015 and a total of approximately 12 months of $3087; I also gained 513 VPPs this past month and for a lifetime total of 10,377 (the latter really covers less than a year with my necessary months away from the game. See earlier blog.)

The numbers are totally insufficient for any setting or reporting on progress of goals. Much more important is my study program as eventually I want to move back to $25 Zoom buy-in games and I am neither ready nor am I rushing myself.. However having completed Randy 'nanonoko' Lew's 5-part Zoom series, I can't keep myself away from his multi-part 25N: Zoom videos which are equally very engaging and informative, How tabralizing! Poker Bites videos by PokerStar pros on a wide-range of topics.I try to keep up with new ones and review those I watched in the past. Regardless of the topic, I pay close heed to bet-sizing, how one’s hole cards interact with the flop, and any commentary about reading opponent(s)’ cards. Why? These are the issues where I must focus in order to improve my game. Poker Bites are short videos full of information and thought-provoking. Would you have known “What type of hands are perfect for playing multiway pots?” whether a) small pairs and suited connectors like 3h 3s and QsJs b) big pairs and small connectors like Kc Ks and 4s 3s or c) Middle pairs and suited Aces like 10s 10c and As 6s? Check out for the answer and most importantly why at 'Playing Multi-Way Pots'

How else do I focus on improving my game? During December, 2014, Dave ‘TheLangolier’ wrote a blog on 'Wrapping Up 2014' and I have really taken his suggestions to heart: “If you’re a cash game player, sort your 2014 hands by $ won/lost and review your play in the 25 biggest pots you won, and the 25 biggest pots you lost.  That’s 50 hands and will take some time.  Don’t rush through it.  You will find hands you feel you played well (win or lose), and hands you don’t think you played well.” Shortly after the blog appeared I started this process and it is a terrific exercise. I have been able to better understand my thought processes with the losing hands and attempt to bring these insights to the table;And there are losing pots where I have no shame against a dry board and a limper. I have also seen where I have won large pots wisely bluffing at the right time, reviewing how I played 3-streets to a winning showdown by successfully ranging my opponrnt(s)--a real feat for me--going all-in at the right time against the right opponent(s) and way more! This ongoing monthly work also allows me to take a closer look at my opponent(s)’ play and mark them as I see it at this time. (Dave has equally great  suggestions for tournament players.)

I have not made as many Live Trainings as I had hoped to nor yet re-started private lessons with Dave. These are big gaps for me and it is not by intention. My physical recovery still leaves me very fatigued and up till now weekend time has been solely devoted to a large blended family with my partner Stephan. This week I have napped earlier allowing me to be awake for two of my favourite evening sessions and I have declared Saturday at 3pm Eastern off limits so as to make Dave’s ‘You Make The Call!’. 

While I still remain somewhat shy to engage in discussions about hands in the Forums, at this point just reading them is very useful. I must get over my fear that I will write something stupid and engage in even ONE discussion on the Forums during this coming month, even if it is a question. In contrast, I read many PSO member blogs and frequently leave a comment as this is a sure way to support one another and I also learn from other members’ comments. This is how I ‘met’ Duke ‘dukeofbc’ He commented on a blog that it is best to focus on each decision one makes at the table rather than result. In context this struck me so much as invaluable that I had to send him a message to that effect. I now call him an online poker buddy. Such is an example that feeling a sense of community can only enhance our PSO experience.

I consciously balance between very experienced and beginners' blogs given the latter group needs supportive feedback as it can be a lonely life out there as a novice and welcoming them to the PSO community can be uplifting, as I recall not that long ago. However, too often, I see more experienced member blogs with such statements as “My goal next month is to make $X” or to “play more” as if such ensures winning more money. Less often do I see where one needs to focus and how one will do that focussing to improve one’s game. I do not say this as though I have all the answers. I will never know them all nor do I wish to! Rather, this is an observation which I put out there for discussion. By telling YOU what I need to do, I make myself accountable and in doing so, I invite you to find the holes in my program as I welcome your feedback.

May we respect our differences and pray that we also find peace in our oneness.