Acquiring Good Habits

It is so easy in No Limit Hold ‘Em to get into habits that are hurtful. The mistakes are so subtle that we often are only aware of their culmination. We can watch the hand histories back by ourselves and see nothing wrong. It’s even possible that our plays months before were the best lines to take, but they’ve become antiquated. Talking ourselves through each play can reveal truths we would otherwise missing. Get into these habits:

♦ Before you call a bet, list off the hands that you beat.

♦ When you bet as a bluff, name the hands verbally that you’re folding out.

♦ When you bet for value, categorize the holdings that are calling off.

You will be amazed how often just articulating what we’re trying to accomplish will open up our game positively. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve said, “I’m going to bet… to get this hand to call me” only to realize midway through the sentence that the notion was ridiculous. My opponent was never calling that large of a bet with that particular hand. Alternatively, their hand could be so strong that what I was betting was a pittance compared with what I could get.

Remember the first time you learned to drive, how you would have to talk yourself through each step? Everybody becomes a much better driver initially through this process of stating their motives, another form of purposeful practice. It’s later when they start autopiloting that their progress becomes stunted. If they kept trying new techniques that were just beyond their grasp and they deliberately coached themselves through it they would become much better.

A review of 32 separate studies published in the journal Perspectives on Physiological Science found copious evidence that instructional self-talk reaps huge dividends. Researchers discovered talking your way through an unfamiliar task allowed you to pay more attention where and when it counted. Your new idea wasn’t as easily lost to muscle memory, the traditions of the group, or your own mind’s background noise.

When you read the new concepts I teach you in this book, be sure to mark up your copy or write the main concepts on a sticky note. Paste it up onto your monitor. Every time you try the new concept focus on the small parts I’ve identified for you preemptively. Discuss with yourself what you’re trying to do and why. This active and deep practice will help you more intimately understand all the moving parts going on in a typical No Limit Hold ‘Em hand. You’ll soon see your execution improve dramatically.

Even better, if you want to make sure you’re doing this consistently you can start a Twitch channel now. For those of you who don’t know, Twitch.tv is a streaming information website owned by Amazon, which normally displays the computer screens of high-stakes gamers for adoring audiences. Today it is used by thousands of poker players, professional and amateur alike. It doesn’t matter if anyone is watching you. Usually a few people wander by. If you’re moderately entertaining you’ll likely develop a following. Many of the great Twitch streamers were unknowns playing low stakes a mere year ago. More importantly, this will give you a good reason to talk yourself through your plays. Previously, I used to look like I was nuts, muttering to myself while I played.

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