DECONSTRUCTING THE ZONE – P4: The Data Stream

The Data Stream

The action in poker flows like a stream of data with an endless supply of betting patterns, bluffing tendencies, physical tells, and more. While the flow of data is constant, your ability to access that data is not. The mind absorbs a lot of data while playing poker, and even more so while in the zone. If this data that’s absorbed is not regularly moving through each stage of the learning process, too much will eventually accumulate. This slows down the learning process and prevents you from regularly getting into the zone.

To prevent data accumulation after a session, you need to actively facili- tate the movement of knowledge through the stages of learning by cor- recting tactical and mental mistakes during and after sessions. Converting data to the next level of learning can help to free up the necessary space to acquire new intangible competence. The methods you use depend on your level of performance. After a session in which you reached the zone, use the A-game journal to assist in converting Intangible Competence to Conceptual Competence. If you didn’t reach the zone, use the suggestions for cooling down and reviewing your game offered later in the chapter.

Correcting tactical or mental mistakes during a session is automatic when you’re in the zone. This is because you have access to your full range of knowledge. Those immediate corrections minimize the accumulation of data, keep your mind clear, and allow you to stay in the zone. From a mental side, things that are normally tilting don’t even faze you in the zone. After taking a bad beat, for example, you immediately realize that bad beats are a normal part of the game. However, when you’re not in the zone, you need to consciously inject logic to make the correction and minimize accumulation. Correcting tactical mistakes uses the same strat- egy. If tactical and mental leaks are left alone and additional layers of thought are piled on, this accumulation of data creates a bloated brain. In the next section, you’ll learn more about how to minimize accumulation.

YOU CANNOT ACCESS ALL DATA

There is a maximum amount of data that the mind has access to at any one time. You can’t know it all because the definition of “all” evolves as you master skills and acquire knowledge. As that happens, you can dig deeper into the data stream and understand the game in new ways. To see the evolution of your game, look back to a point in your poker his- tory when you were a weaker player. Chances are, you can now see more detail or nuances within those old hands than you could back then. Whereas previously you might have only seen the value of your hand and had a vague idea of your opponent’s range, now you can also con- sider implied odds, reverse implied odds, range balancing, and previous history. As your skills in poker evolve, you gain knowledge that enables you to dig deeper into your past experiences, allowing you to see them in new ways.

This process can be illustrated in something as basic as watching a movie. When you watch a movie several times, especially a great one, you’ll see more depth in the characters and in the story line each time you watch it. You’ll also understand the movie differently if you’ve gone several years without seeing it. The movie didn’t change, you did. Whether watching a movie or playing a hand of poker, the details you see for the first time were there all along—you just didn’t have the knowledge or perspective to pick up on them.

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