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January 22, 2006

Poker Study Break – The Importance of Continuous Improvement

Posted at January 22, 2006 07:12 AM in General Discussions , by Greedy Gecko.

In many ways, poker players are like a flowing stream or river. We find the path of least resistance within the online poker world, and then stick with it. We gladly take our profits from preying on the weaker players in our path. The problem with this is that without continued development of our poker skills, one of three things may eventually happen to us.

1. Where Have All the Fish Gone?
As in nature, there exists a delicate balance between predator and prey. The population level of one group has a profound impact on the other. At present, poker may be at the height of its popularity. You cannot turn on the television without seeing commercials for the latest poker show or website. Has it reached critical mass? Nobody knows. Keep in mind, however, that poker is worse than most zero sum games (game theorists out there will recognize the term). As with many games, for someone to be winning, someone else must be losing. In poker, however, you are not only competing against opponents for your profits, but also with the online poker sites (rake). As such, when the subsidization of your poker play from the extremely poor fish starts to dry up, then your game needs to be at a level to take profits from experienced and profitable players as well. You may think that you are immune to this at the lower levels, but I believe this is an illusion. When players that used to be profitable at higher limits begin to struggle, they too will clamor to regain profits by moving down in limits and taking your money.

2. Broken Rungs in Poker Ladder
Many beginning poker players, myself included, jumped right into online poker and were met with nothing but success. Personally, I have continued to win, and at a pace that most casual players would be extremely envious of, without any real challenge. However, it is foolish to believe that this will continue across all limits, and that the strategies learned at lower limits will necessarily translate to higher limit play. In climbing the poker limits played, one will eventually step on a broken rung and slip downward (both in profits and then in limits to regroup).

3. Standing Water Becomes Foul
Many players I talk to don’t attempt to climb the ladder up the various limits poker has to offer. They enjoy the present success they are having and do not want to mess with success. However, the downside of this approach is that they never improve as poker players and eventually begin to view poker as a part-time job (as I did). Despite the modest profits to be earned at lower limits, it can become rather boring and tedious to grind these profits out. Eventually, the interest in poker diminishes and a new hobby is found.

In response to the aforementioned items, I have recently taken a step back from poker to really assess my game. Wanting to begin a steady climb in the limits I play, and the amount of profit that I earn from poker, I felt the best way to accomplish this was to arm myself with all of the knowledge available to me. I have since read any remaining books that might add to my understanding of the game. Further, I have spent the time to analyze my results and my opponents via the use of PokerTracker.

Results thus far? I have moved up twice in limits with nothing but further success thus far. I am ready for another break to reassess my game and continue learning. I believe that this methodical and patient approach will make me much better prepared than my opponents.

To those players who are not having the level of success they would like, or are getting bored with poker, consider taking a poker study break. Stop playing and arm yourself with sharpened tools with which to approach the game.

The Greedy Gecko
How does a midget climb a horse?

Sorry, there’s no punchline there, and I realize it has nothing to do with the post. Just a thought I had to which I have no answer.

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