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A Brief Word on Learning Poker… or Anything

1golf

This tweet caught my eye, if not my ear, because it seemed like a genuine question and not just engagement bait. The answers provided were not so great. Let’s point out a few obvious things:

  • A big name is a big name because they accomplished something in poker. They probably have some part of the puzzle figured out and can provide good advice.
  • Published results can indicate a grasp of what really is working out there. They probably have some part of the puzzle figured out and can provide good advice.
  • Media figures who explain poker strategy in a comprehendible and logical manner are a good start. They probably have some part of the puzzle figured out and can provide good advice.

See where this is going? You’re probably going to end up getting good advice from a variety of sources and no one coach or system will be absolutely perfect.

Of course, then there are the thousands of journeyman players who have bounced from every system and big and small name. Those people have it the worst, because to succeed, they either they find the rarest coach of all, the actually good teacher who also knows poker and can break their trance, or they continue to suffer ad infinitum. You may know this latter type as the unhappy and stagnant regs in your room.

That said, there are also definitely some questionable sources of advice to avoid:

  • People at your own level of comprehension won’t teach you much. Getting together with a bunch of similarly minded novices or regs is more fun than efficient. Jump in the group chat selectively and value free advice accordingly.
  • There are enthusiasts who, having just joined some program, are all too eager to push it on others. This is an emotional safety valve for them and is mostly meaningless for you. Listen to people after they’ve spent six months or a year with a coach or program before taking their advice seriously.
  • Sales, discounts, and mass training in general hint at the obvious: the advice is not tailored to your specific need. Rest assured that you will get what you pay for.
  • Software training programs and play graders don’t teach any theory, which is a massive problem. The pilot needs more than the simulation to master his craft or even be comfortable in the air.

Lastly, I was at a large dinner a few months ago with many serious and aspiring poker players, one or two of which were fishing for coaching. On paper, I’d have made a perfect fit for them, as I can describe the game and its strategies especially clearly. However, I dodged the issue and finally them, because I could tell they would be terrible, even disruptive students.

The red pill is that it’s not always about the coach or the system or the advice. Learning is a social dance, like everything else that matters in this world, and the follower, in fact, is often the leader in disguise.

Take charge of what you are doing, in other words, even if you are the apprentice.

Happy New Year!

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