To successfully step through the looking glass that separates losing poker from winning poker requires that you be totally honest with yourself. Poker is a business and if you wish for it to be your business, you must treat it as such. This means that you must keep accurate records of your results so that you don't fool yourself about your skills.

You also need to understand the true extent of your skills. I will guarantee you that Phil Ivey will show a greater profit in playing ace-jack offsuit than I will. Why? His records will show that it is because his skill level, experience, and understanding of hand values in any given situation are much better than mine. I fully understand this and I am constantly taking steps that will help me move forward in gaining these same skills.

I truly love to document the results that I achieve from playing poker. For whatever reason, documentation is my thing. I am always keeping notes on something while I play. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

I had the following results from a session that I played a few years ago:

Hands dealt = 67
Hands played = 10
Hands taken to the river = 7
Hands won at showdown = 5
Total won = $1338

This should not be a big surprise that I can tell you about these results from just over seven years ago. I am sure that if you go to your corner coffee shop and ask them what their sales were on a certain date they could give you the same type of information. Why? Selling coffee is their business. Well, guess what, poker is my business and I treat it exactly as that, a business.

During this same session, I can also tell you the following:

The game was $50-100 hold'em.
I played the 57th hand that was dealt to me.
I was in the big-blind.
I was dealt a suited ten and a five.
Five other players stayed in to see the flop.
I abandoned this hand on the turn.
I invested a total of $100 on these two cards.

This is a ton of information. But I didn't write down information from just one session back then. I can tell you my exact results with ten-nine suited, pocket kings, or ace-jack offsuit for all of that year. In fact, I can tell you every single hand that I played during this experiment which lasted for over a year. What I am constantly seeking to learn is what hands are profitable for me based on my position and the number of players involved in the hand.

Although I am no longer as thorough as I was then, here are a couple of examples of what I sometimes document while I sit at the table:

6 J+T LP4+ (7) 300/950

This is read as follows:

I played the 6th hand dealt.
I was dealt a jack-ten suited (suited indicated by the + sign).
I was in late position, I played this hand to the 4th betting round (the river), and I won the hand (indicated again by the + sign).
There were 7 players who saw the flop.
I invested $300 and my return was $950.

12 5-3 LB4- (7) 150/0

Again, this is read this way:

It was the 12th hand dealt.
I was dealt a five and a three offsuit (no + sign).
I was in the little blind, I played this hand to the 4th betting round (the river), and I lost this hand (indicated by the - sign).
There were 7 players who saw the flop
I invested $150 and my return was $0.

Upon later examination, I can look at what my profit level is from various positions. I can look at the hands that I play and question the true value of those hands based on my skills. I have the ability to replay a hand and learn from it at a later time.

Here are my notes and comments from the 64th hand of this session.

64 K-K MP4- (5) 800/0

This is a hand that I really screwed up. Preflop I made it three bets and it was capped behind me. The flop was QTT rainbow (i.e. no two cards of the same suit), I bet, and was raised by Jim. I re-raised and Jim capped it. Turn card was a 9. I bet into Jim (thinking he may have Ace-Queen) and I he raised. OK, so he does have a Ten. Amazingly, there will still two other callers! The pot was now $2000 so I was getting 20-1 to try to catch a king or a jack. A jack came on the river giving me a straight. Curtis bet out, I raised, and when Jim re-raised. I finally figured out that Jim have jack-ten for a full house, but it was too late. My raise on the river was particularly poor. A-K, T-J, Q-T, K-T, T-T, Q-Q, or J-J all beat me. I played this hand like a fish.

The important thing with this hand is not that I lost $800. The important thing is that I documented the hand and that I learned from it. I detected a weakness that was present in my game. I realized that I sometimes over play a big pocket pair. Since that I have, hopefully, taken the necessary steps to correct the problem.

It's likely that Phil Ivey is selling his coffee for $1.50 a cup while I'm only getting $1.25 for mine. That doesn't really matter, because with my documentation I can improve my game and close the gap. You can do the same. Use my method of documentation or develop your own and start closing the gap.

Men Liv Boeree is still single, but the line at her door is getting longer. Good luck to Liv for a long poker career full of tournament prizes.

 

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