Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Road to Excellence without end

I wrote this on the plane ride home after spending four nights in Vegas.  Interestingly enough, I didn’t play one hand of live poker.  I nitted it up, stayed in one of the cheapest hotels, and hunkered down for three straight days of poker theory/training.
While in Vegas – and thanks to twitter – I had the opportunity to meet one of poker’s best players, Kathy Liebert, the top earning female player in the world – there’s just no question (if there is, help me see it).  We talked poker and twitter and cats and life in general, but mainly enjoyed a fine meal from Onda (Mirage).  I never in a million years would’ve thought that playing around on the internet would’ve brought me face to face with a poker legend, much less provide the opportunity to have dinner with her – but it did and it was cool.  Kathy’s a really nice, genuine person (and a helluva poker player, obv).  

I recognize I’m a dork, but I really don’t care.  Meeting Kathy was awesome and I hope there'll be other opportunities to meet other fellow twitterers – whether it’s in Vegas or Texas or Hawaii (yes, Hawaii would be good – ha!). Speaking of which, Vegas was also a nice place to meet the really smart and funny @Ftrain (Thank you for the drink, Dave!).

So about the pokers…I’ve written before about my desire to become a better poker player and I’ve tweeted this link and talked about Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, both of which are studies of what makes an expert.  There are no secrets, no shortcuts, no concepts that will make me, or anyone, an excellent player (or an excellent anything else for that matter) in the short run.  As I’m learning in training, poker is one long, continuous, never ending page…all about the long run.  And if you don’t have the internal fortitude to handle that, then you’re in the wrong sport/profession.  Moreover, if you’re not interested in studying this game and deliberately practicing it and working with others (true students and good coaches), then you might as well admit to yourself that poker is a recreational hobby for you.  Yes, you may get lucky (because there is luck involved) and hit a big score, but if you are not actively pursuing excellence, you are the fish at the table.  As the referenced studies show – experts are made, not born.  

If you don’t read the links, the only kernel of truth you need to know is that it’s going to take coaching and a decade of deliberate practice to become a winning player.  This isn’t ground breaking stuff – as with any sport, any profession, any calling, if you’re going to be good, there is no other way to get there but long hours (see the 10,000 Hour Rule) and hard, smart work.  Period. 
The poker media highlights these young, online phenoms and often makes it seem as though they plopped $5 into a Stars or Tilt account and ginned it up overnight to a kajillion dollar bankroll from which they've never gone busto. The truth is - the people you see online and live consistently running deep are people, generally young men, who are deliberately studying the game and using every tool available to them, working with a coach and/or crew of like-minded people when they’re not playing, and playing ungodly amounts of volume online, all day, every day, 365 days a year.  To make a profit, there’s no other way to play this game – especially tournament poker due to the variance (I mean, look at the payouts - if you’re not scoring in the top three, “congratudolences” as @BJNemeth says…). and, on average, you’re going to bust 98+% of the tournaments you enter.  Do you disagree with that percentage estimate?  Am I wrong?  I don’t think so, but I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

So where does that leave someone like me (and maybe like you?), who's not 21, and who has a family and a job and a life you like outside of poker?  I think it’s pretty simple…without tons of deliberate practice, we’re dead money.  Period.  

I've written before about how I got started in poker and how I started taking it serious in 2010.  Knowing the work it'll take to become really good, I'm kind of daunted that I've got such a long road ahead. But, the road is just the road, each step a starting point.  And there really is no end to it. Because if I stop traveling it, by failing to deliberately practice and study and get coached, then the game will pass me by.

So. This week, I’ll take my next step down that road – I’m moving to Vegas! 

Jokes.  No, I’m “moving up” to the smaller field ($1-$11 BI) MTTS and will continue to get coaching, to deliberately study and practice, and to work with my friend Terry, who is just as serious about the game as I am.   We’re setting up a grinding pad in an office and for scheduled days, every week, grinding online is going to be our job (in addition to our regular jobs, until we can either quit ‘em in full or realize that we just can’t cut it).  With that schedule, I suppose one of us (me, sorry Terry) can expect to win the Main Event on or after some date in 2018.  In reality, though, even that amount of grinding is a drop in the bucket compared to people like daisyxoxo, mement_mori, CrazyHorse76 and that's the competition we are up against.

Previously, one of my goals included traveling once a month to a WSOPc event and playing in one or two of the smaller BIs.  I didn’t do that this month (January), replacing an event with the training; but, I’d planned to start up in February.  That goal’s been modified. Now, life permitting, I’ll travel once a month to Vegas, on the cheap, and play as many $100 tourneys as I can in that trip window.  Full disclosure, I’ve pooled my online and live BR (minus a portion for the grindage setup and travel) and will start this personal challenge with a $3000 bankroll (whatever limit you’re playing at you need a BR 200x that size…so, to play $100 tourneys, I need at least $2k and the rest will be online for the $1-$11 MTTs). So $3000's the floor, and I'll be updating its rise and fall each month.

I mean – what’s the worst that could happen?  I’m just some old lady (I don't think I'm old, but by poker standard's, I'm old) going up against all of you and the 21 year old internet phenom crew – how bad could it be?  

Ew.  I know, right?  Good luck, me!!

Whatever - lulz and all that.  When you see me HU at final tables within the next ten years, you better reco’nize and bring your A-game, because, I am.  Bring it!

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and your stories and your poker dreams.  In the meantime – BR management, people, and good luck at the tables.


  1. I wish you the best on this journey, my friend. And I will be on your rail when you FT a big one(s).

    One criticism though. No live hands is one thing. But no lap dances, no roofie indulged blackouts, no trips to Mike Tyson's house to steal his tiger? I would be ashamed, Missy!

  2. I am impressed. That is a dream I have had and since WA state stomped on my dream I have to work harder and pay more at the live games. I wish you luck, and I will be railing you to try and make sure your spirit is up and kicking butt. Go for it.

  3. Plan the work and work the plan-Pops. I hope my pipes ain't froze and the pool pump jacked. minus 11 here. stay warm and love you.

  4. Good luck on this! I play about 10-12 tourneys on Thursday night (my only "poker" night) and on an average make the cash in 1 out of 5 (20%). Shoot for that number.

  5. Interesting essay in that PDF. Here's a similar one in return, which I stumbled across today serendipitously.

  6. Go, PokerLawyer, Go! Will be watching your progress with great anticipation. And perhaps our paths will cross in Vegas one of these days - I tend to get there about 3 or 4x a year...

  7. Aw - thanks so much, guys!! Love the encouragement AND that you read the blog - wheeee!

    I've missed you MYOP!!How are you?

  8. Doing better than your mom, apparently! Yikes!

    Haven't played too much since a bad run in Vegas at the end of the year... taking a bit of a breather. But I did win a little chunk o' change at a home game a week or so ago, so... ahhhhhhh..... sweet victory. It's what keeps us all coming back to this demented game, eh?

  9. You're right about that - congrats on the score! And, my mom's she's so crazy...if she loses $10 she gets all shaky and nervy (nervous), so don't worry about her. I hope your rungood continues!


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