Sunday, May 20, 2012

Three = Seven = Ten = Everything


There's an off-brand book on poker that's been mentioned a few times in the forums lately called Building a Bankroll - Full Ring Edition, Pawel "Verneer" Nazarewicz. The author is a guy who is known in the poker world for turning $200 into $10,000 in 120 days via small-stakes play, and then repeating the same feat a second time to prove the first time wasn't a fluke.

I don't own this book, and I'll probably not buy it simply because of a) its high price tag ($50); and b) it's not available in the Kindle format (though it is available in *pdf format). I did, however, read a short recap of the book in which the reviewer pointed out that Nazarewicz claims seven fundamental concepts required to master poker.

I'm personally a believer in my own Three Skills To Poker Mastery (here), as well as the Guru's 10 Commandments of Poker (here), both of which I have blogged about extensively. Ah, but the truth is that I'm basically a sucker for pretty much any article/system with a number included in its description. Eight Secrets to Crushing The Stock Market. Ten Things Your Mama Never Told You About Women. Twenty Secrets to A Long Life. Three Coins In A Fountain...

So, when I saw that Nazarewicz had Seven Fundamental Concepts To Mastering Poker, I was intrigued. A little googling led me to his seven so-called big secrets:
  1. Accept Variance. This is a good one to start the list with. It's also probably the hardest one for a beginner to understand and/or accept. I've blogged about off an on through the years, but the bottom line is that just because you are a good player doesn’t mean you will win over the short term (read: a session, a day, a week, or even a month). Luck plays a significant role in poker-- in the short run. It is important to understand that just because you’re currently winning, it doesn’t mean you are actually playing well. Conversely, losing doesn’t mean you are playing poorly. 
  2. Manage Your Bankroll. This is another one I've blogged about frequently, primarily because it's my own biggest leak in the game. I "take shots" frequently at the higher stakes, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Nazarewicz writes that bankroll management is your main line of defense against going broke, and of course he's right. This one is a natural follow-on to the whole accept variance thing. 
  3. Develop Reads. Yep, this one is also incredibly important. Again, I've written perhaps way too much on the subject. Said another way, I strongly believe R is the first and most important step in REDi, which is a key part of mastering the technical side t poker Said yet another way, to beat poker, you absolutely have to learn how to put your opponents on hand ranges. 
  4. Play Solid. This one and number 5 and 7 (stay on your A-game, and remain a student) are all also interlinked. This particular one is all about learning how make +EV plays, and how to avoid -EV situations. This all starts with learning why certain plays will win you money in the long run and why others will not. It's not rocket science, but it is something you have to learn and embrace. I personally think that this is the first of the three major skill areas a poker player has to master to crush poker (i.e., technical proficiency). It's also the easiest of the skills to master. Seriously. 
  5. Stay on Your A-Game. As Nazarewicz writes, there is a big difference between knowing the right play, and actually making the right play. To be a winning player, you need to control tilt and play your A-game over long periods of time. For many people, this is a work in progress. Again, this is one of the three major skills (i.e., Emotional Control) that are part of mastering poker. It is also probably the hardest skill to master. Seriously. 
  6. Put in the Hours. Nazarewics writes that poker mastery is achieved through experience; there is no substitute for actual work at and away from the tables. Frankly, I don't really see the difference between this rule and the next one (remain a student). I think a better way to state this is Roy Cooke's old rule that Profit = Volume x Edge, and this is simply the Volume aspect of the game. You have to play, play, and play more-- but it has to be perfect poker. 
  7. Remain a Student. This is just the third remaining major skill required to master poker (i.e., Preparation). Nazrewics says to resist falling into complacency; evaluate your game continually, identify which areas give you trouble, and work hard to improve them. I think it's more than just this, actually. It's not only identifying weak areas in your play, it's also about learning new techniques and strategies. It's about post-mortems. It's about pre-flight checklists. It's about preparation. 
Okay, so what? Yet another guy has written yet another book on poker, and he's basically come to the same conclusions that others of us already have, in one form or another. Big deal, right?

Well, actually it is a big deal. No matter how you skin this whole poker cat, it turns out that there are truly some basic, fundamental secrets to success that you have to conquer to win long term at the game. Whether it's Bug's three overlapping key skills to poker success, the Guru's 10Cs, Nazarewicz seven fundamental concepts, or whatever, these are all basically the same skill sets, writ differently. Take the time to learn the basics, and you'll crush poker. Don't, and you won't. Poker is really that simple. Capiche?

All-in for now...
-Bug

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