As a full-time coach, writer, and video producer; hours for playing the game itself are often limited. This can be a blessing in that I no longer depend upon cramming lots of volume to make a living, but a curse in that I do not get enough time to enjoy what go me into this industry in the first place – the thrill of competing. I urge my students to make resolutions during our first coaching lesson and so I’m going to take a leaf out of my own book and make some promises to myself to get more out of the game this coming year. Poker might be work now for me, but I don’t want it to feel like work! I want to rediscover the magic that got me to where I am today. If you’re currently in a bit of a poker rut, then perhaps this will inspire you to do the same.
Here we go.
1. Play More Live Poker
Online poker has been my bread and butter for some time now. It facilitated my rise from student to coach and has supplemented my income for many years. What originally got me hooked, however, was the riffling of the cards and the shuffling of the chips. The fun table banter; meeting friends and then showing them bluffs; and all that good stuff that comes with live poker. If online ever feels a bit monotonous, then playing a big live tournament or making a weekend trip to play some cash games can be a great way to reinvigorate yourself. I have plenty of students whom I’ve become friends with down in London so it’s about time I took a few more weekend breaks to throw some cards around with them.
2. Study and Teach More Exploitative Play
I used to pride myself on making sick reads and ‘owning souls’ as we used to say. In the last two years, I have put a lot of work into understanding poker theory. The modern climate has made strong theory a necessity for any decent instructor. This has involved running simulations in poker solvers and drawing up rules about what’s theoretically optimal. As a result, I have become a stronger coach and have helped many players learn the nuts and bolts of game-theory. What I have neglected somewhat over the last two years has been the massive edge that can be gained by making very extreme adjustments against both specific opponents and the general player pool in certain spots where people are unbalanced. This year, I pledge to focus on where the pool misplays the most and how to punish it to the maximum. It’s time to take my game as well as the games of my students, readers, and viewers to a new level. Let’s crush the leaks of the general population!
3. Release Weekly Podcasts
I have been creating the Carrot Poker Podcast for a few years now, but with many hiatuses and much inconsistency. The podcast covers everything from strategy to mental game advice and usually features some non-famous poker players in the form of my own students and poker acquaintances. It is a poker podcast made for the masses, by the masses.
In 2020 I plan to bring listeners a wide array of content. I will even be advertising for guests on streams here at PokerStars. If you feel like you have something interesting to say about the game, or even just want to come on the show to pick my brain, then let me know. You can contact me via the form on my website or by emailing: email@example.com
4. Create a Thriving Student Community
Paradoxically, teamwork is key to success in this individual sport. Working with peers and exploring the game together is a sure-fire way to accelerate your learning. I plan on grouping my current and previous students in one big discord group and letting them arrange group study sessions and supervised play. If you hire me for coaching in the new year, expect a budding community to help you improve your game.
5. Play One Major Live Event
Large tournaments can be rollercoaster rides. They offer the potential for a life changing score. Provided that you have the bankroll and don’t mind firing a few grand at a big tournament, you have something to underline in your calendar. Knowing that you are going to be playing in an exciting high stakes tournament can give you plenty of incentive to keep working hard on your game and keep you energised. I am going to pick one such tournament in 2020 and leave the keyboard and mouse at home for a few days.
6. Have the Conviction to Bluff and Call in Big Pots
Sometimes when the pot is growing large and you wind up on the river with nothing, it can feel soothing to simply give up instead of risking another 60 or 70 blinds. However, in the past, I have definitely been guilting of passing up spots that are profitable to call or bluff in due to the high variance and the small perceived edge involved. Fearing these spots is a very destructive habit as it teaches you to become risk-adverse at the tables. Poker is a game in which you simply must gamble. This year I pledge to eliminate all discomfort based mental-game leaks and embrace the variance of accepting risk in all spots I deem to be profitable.