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Poker Goals & Challenges Post your threads logging your travels up the poker ladder as you achieve your poker goals and dreams. "Challenges" does NOT mean prop bets, wagers, etc.

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Old 05-10-2017, 09:53 PM   #1
benjamin barker
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2017: Maximizing my Potential

My name is Dan. I'm a professional gambler living in Las Vegas. I play poker, coach poker, help manage the Imawhale Staking operation, and bet sports. I've had several PGC threads in the past that were well received, however, over the last year I've really fallen off with my PGC activity and am looking to revive things.

In this thread I will focus primarily on mental game, as that is the area I am currently struggling. My goal is to provide daily grading of my poker play in a public setting to give myself better accountability, tracking, and motivation to do my best. I will also have a minor focus on personal fitness.

I play a mix of live here in Vegas and online. For live, I play deepstacked 5/10 and 10/25. For online, I really mix stakes and play basically anything 2/4 or bigger.
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Old 05-10-2017, 09:55 PM   #2
benjamin barker
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

The Problem
My mental game is currently weak in terms of dealing with negative variance. Many sessions are becoming derailed after taking a bad beat as of late and degenerating into low quality play. The primary reason for this is that I am way too results focused. I want to achieve great results, put up big numbers, and accumulate wealth. However, I am measuring myself by dollar results and not the quality of my play and grinding processes. This funk I am in dates back to mid-March, and here is the backstory.

Nearing the end of March, I was up roughly 30k on the month, which was going to be a personal best for poker profit in a month. I took some shots at some high stakes games, and some runbad combined with some tilt found me losing 25k in a day. Over the following few weeks I spun up another roughly 30k of profit, and once again had a minus 25k day playing games that were really a bit too big, and running poorly then subsequently tilting and making it worse than it needed to be. Any big losing day almost always follows the same pattern for me: start of playing well, take some bad beats, start forcing the action trying to get even, and spiral out of control.

There have been times in my poker career where my mental game was one of my strongest points. My technical game is at an all time high, and I feel very confident about my earning ability, however, I'm shooting myself in the foot far too often lately. I've also twisted my technical game confidence into something negative. When I'm stuck I'm finding ways to rationalize that I can play twice as many hands as my opponents and still beat them. I am fully confident I have a good edge even in high stakes games, however, I am also fully confident that I have been throwing my edge straight in the garbage the last couple months at the first sign of adversity.

I don't think I ever quite recovered fully from that first big losing day. I lost way more than I should have given my personal financial situation. I'm starting to accumulate some wealth and my financial outlook is better than ever, however, I'm still far from wealthy and I need to be patient and let go of dollar goals and trying to race towards certain benchmarks, and instead focus back on the process of doing my best and realizing that in the long run that is what will get me where I want to go (albeit more slowly than I might prefer).

Subconsciously I have been still chasing those losses the last couple months, and although I've been consistently earning, the days where I encounter adversity it bothers me way more than it should because I have a poor perspective. I'm trying to race back towards dollar figures, instead of letting go of results and focusing on doing my best. I've seen this many times with players I've coached who are dealing with a big downswing and/or in a lot of makeup. Despite the fact that I can see clearly what I'm doing, I'm still allowing it to happen and enabling thse poor behaviors and indulging these unhealthy thought processes. Additionally, these emotional swings have affected my personal life in a variety of ways, especially my fitness, as I have a tendency to eat away my troubles at the end of rough days.

It stops today.

I've wanted to PGC about all this for a while now, and have kept putting it off. I think subconsciously I was hoping I would simply bink away the problem and everything would get back on track. Of course on some level I realized life doesn't work like that. Thinking it all through, I think some of this runs a bit deeper. Most of my life I have been overweight and poor. Only in the last few years have I become fit and more financially stable. With my fitness and finances although I have gotten close enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel, on some level perhaps I wasn't personally ready to take the final step to maximize my potential. For example, although I lost 100 pounds, my goal is to reach 10-12% body fat and be truly lean, and each time I've dipped below 16% body fat I've started to backpedal. There may be a similar self sabotage type behavior with regard to my personal finances. I think fully breaking through these hurdles and fully maximizing my self potential isn't something I was quite ready for. Today, however, I feel ready to cut the BS and break through.

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to write post session recaps for both my live and online sessions. My primary goals are:

1) Adherence to a fixed session length. Anytime I sit down to play and decide at the beginning that my goal is to play my best and make my best decisions for X hours, it helps my mindset immensely. When I sit down with the plan to play until "whenever", inevitably "whenever" becomes tied up in results and I become far more prone to forcing the action trying to book a winner, or even at times get weak tight near the end of a session trying to hold on to a profit, etc.

2) Viewing negative variance as a growth opportunity. The fact is that I'm not responding well to bad beats. The next bad beat I take, I need to remember that it is an opportunity to practice shaking it off and staying on track by using the various techniques I've learned along the way (mostly from TMGOP book), and not indulge thoughts of feeling sorry for myself or thinking about how this may set bet certain profit benchmarks.

3) Viewing misplays as a growth opportunity. Similarly, lately when I misplay a hand I am tilting as a result. This is occurring both when I try to avoid a big pot through suboptimal passive lines, or try to force a win through loose/spewy play. Very rarely do I play a pot and encounter a situation I don't have a theoretical idea of what my strategic response should be, and the rare times it comes up I actually find it pretty interesting). However, when I play a hand suboptimally I'm kind of aware I'm doing it in the moment and when it doesn't work out I beat myself up afterwards and feel tilted. It's good that I recognize the issue immediately, however, instead of getting frustrated instead I need to instead examine my mental state and make a note of what led to this misstep, and that process will help me avoid repeating the same mental leak in the future.

4) In addition to my mental game goals, it's very important to never stop working on your technical game. I am starting a new project to improve my HUNL game with skraper, as we are going to meet weekly to work through the Doug Polk Advanced HU Mastery course. Although I'm busy and have a lot going on, I want to make this a priority and not get lazy with regards to continually improving my technical game.

Writing all this out has been very cathartic.

The best is yet to come. Let's go!

Last edited by benjamin barker; 05-10-2017 at 10:13 PM.
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Old 05-10-2017, 10:20 PM   #3
TheTyman9
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

In, gl dan
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Old 05-10-2017, 10:26 PM   #4
benjamin barker
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

Here are links to my previous PGCs for archival purposes:

http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/17...014-a-1431069/

http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/17...hours-1500406/

http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/17...hours-1581835/
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Old 05-10-2017, 10:31 PM   #5
AaronStefan00
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Arrow Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

LFG
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Old 05-10-2017, 10:34 PM   #6
bob_124
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

in, gl gl!
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Old 05-10-2017, 11:02 PM   #7
andees10
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

GLGL
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Old 05-10-2017, 11:04 PM   #8
Knowl3dge
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

in
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Old 05-10-2017, 11:20 PM   #9
Brokenstars
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

in ofc, gl
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Old 05-10-2017, 11:54 PM   #10
Pots-For-Sale
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

In glgl
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Old 05-10-2017, 11:57 PM   #11
Derp!
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

In!
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Old 05-11-2017, 12:15 AM   #12
Don Melchor
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

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Old 05-11-2017, 05:01 AM   #13
Xant777
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

In!
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Old 05-11-2017, 07:49 AM   #14
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

GL Dan
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:35 AM   #15
jdgambler
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

Good Luck Dan, I know you will crush!!! I am studying the HU mastery program also. I bought the PLO University too gonna eventually try to add that game as an option.
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Old 05-11-2017, 10:47 AM   #16
RockstarRossi
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

hi
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Old 05-11-2017, 11:15 AM   #17
Saurus
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

gl!
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Old 05-11-2017, 03:24 PM   #18
benjamin barker
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

Played an online session this morning. Not my best effort, but that's reality and that's why I'm working towards righting the ship.

I started session a bit splashy, and ended up overplaying a flush draw in a big pot. On the bright side, I was able to regroup and get myself back into a positive mental state and played well for most of the rest of session.

However, I went longer than my planned session time, as I was in a good game, and ended up losing it and getting overly splashy again at the end of session. I also stopped using my timer and journaling as session went long. I eventually recognized it and quit, which again was good, however it's not good that I didn't adhere to my processes and it's probably for the best it resulted in poor play at the end to help reenforce the lesson here.

On the whole the session was reasonable, and on the bright side I recognized my mental game mistakes and was able to regroup and play well for the most part, however, it's still not nearly good enough or close to my best.

I was hoping to simply start a new PGC and magically come out playing perfect poker, but I suppose the reality is that life simply isn't that easy ha. It's going to be hard work to get back to doing my best, and I'm ready to climb that mountain. Although today wasn't my best effort, I can build on it moving forward and improve.

Technical Game: C+
Tilt Control: B-
Game Selection: B
Focus: B-
Structure: C
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:17 PM   #19
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

I will be following this closely. Thanks for putting yourself out there like this Dan. I have total confidence in you maximizing your potential.
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Old 05-12-2017, 12:37 AM   #20
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

GL !
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Old 05-12-2017, 01:41 PM   #21
benjamin barker
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

Had a nice chat yesterday with Chris, one of the high stakes players our stable works with. He's currently in a similar mode as me in terms of regrouping his mental game efforts.

Played a good session this morning. I did a better job of sticking to my processes. I went through a brief warmup, I took note of my mental state and jotted down potential tilt triggers every 30 minutes on a timer to get out in front of them, and also re-read my technical and mental game goals cliffs on the timer.

I encountered some early negative variance, and at one point peeled too light vs a flop checkraise, but other than that I don't recall knowingly misplaying any hands as a result of frustration. I was very fortunate to run hot at the end of session, and run into a bluff instead of a value hand on a big river call.

I originally planned on 3 hours of play, and at the 2.5 hour mark I was losing a lot of focus and steam and also starting to get some weak tight mental thoughts about being up on session, and I decided to simply end session. Initially I wanted to power through to practice my mental game in regards to playing well when up and avoiding weak tight passive play trying to book a win, but I just felt a bit too tired to really get fired up and enthusiastic about giving max effort for the last half an hour so I feel happy with my choice to quit.

Technical Game: B+
Tilt Control: B+
Game Selection: B
Focus: B
Structure: B+
Effort: A-

Although it was a good session, I can't give myself A grades, as I was actively battling some mental game issues through session. I did give a strong effort to try to do my best, so in that regard I can give myself a good grade and I'll actually add that to my grading system. Feels good to put down some quality work and feel a little positive momentum. I'll probably play a live session later tonight and try to capitalize on the opportunity to follow up with a good effort there.
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Old 05-12-2017, 01:53 PM   #22
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

I love the self evaluation honesty. GL.
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Old 05-12-2017, 02:05 PM   #23
benjamin barker
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

Fitness
I need to get back on track with my eating in order to lean down. Have had way too many "special occasions" as of late, and also have justified overeating as a way to release emotional stress from poker. It's almost entirely late night snacking while watching TV or Twitch that is the issue.

I have been doing OK with my workouts. I've slipped a bit with them but on the whole doing a reasonable job. I do a push/pull/legs routine with days off for cardio as I feel needed. It works for me. My main goal right now is to lean down. I'm at 190lb and 17% body fat, and I want to get that body fat to 12%. I'm not sure exactly what that will translate to in weight, perhaps 170-175 range. Yesterday I did:

Flat Barbell Bench: 155x3x8
Incline Barbell Bench: 115x3x8
Dumbell Shoulder Press: 35x3x6
Shoulder Flies: 17.5x8x2
Tricep Cable Pressdowns: 40x8x3

I also do a little light cardio for a few minutes to warmup and do some sort of ab/core exercise most every time to the gym as well. I've learned a lot about fitness over the past few months with the help of a few key youtubers, and when I eventually reach my body goal I'm going to do a comprehensive writeup on the overall program that works for me.
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Old 05-12-2017, 02:08 PM   #24
benjamin barker
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheTyman9 View Post
In, gl dan
Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronStefan00 View Post
LFG
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob_124 View Post
in, gl gl!
Quote:
Originally Posted by andees10 View Post
GLGL
Quote:
Originally Posted by Knowl3dge View Post
in
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brokenstars View Post
in ofc, gl
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pots-For-Sale View Post
In glgl
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp! View Post
In!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Melchor View Post
Gl
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xant777 View Post
In!
Quote:
Originally Posted by daChimp View Post
GL Dan
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdgambler View Post
Good Luck Dan, I know you will crush!!! I am studying the HU mastery program also. I bought the PLO University too gonna eventually try to add that game as an option.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RockstarRossi View Post
hi
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saurus View Post
gl!
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrackBuyer View Post
I will be following this closely. Thanks for putting yourself out there like this Dan. I have total confidence in you maximizing your potential.
Quote:
Originally Posted by orange View Post
GL !
Quote:
Originally Posted by PotLuckNeeded View Post
I love the self evaluation honesty. GL.
Thanks for all the support guys! It's much appreciated and helps me. Hopefully along the way I can share some mental game insight that benefits some of you in small way.

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.

Last edited by benjamin barker; 05-12-2017 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 05-12-2017, 07:11 PM   #25
Twistedd
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Re: 2017: Maximizing my Potential

Gl man!
Are you still interested as much in Ethereum?
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