If you fail to plan, then plan to fail

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There are several traits of my students who show significant improvement after signing up for my course. One that really stands out is, they do what I ask.

MENTAL AND PHYSICAL FITNESS: If chess masters have a host of coaches and endeavor to be ready to play, I submit this trait is just as significant to poker success.

In today’s game, the competition is ferocious. In getting ready to play and planning our poker day, we gain an edge. For serious players 50 and older, four hours is enough. Playing four hours of perfect poker is no easy feat.

CHECKLIST: Develop a checklist before you play. If your cell is a distraction, leave it in the car. Make sure you’re committed to being the most focused player at the table.

A common quote in this ever-vexing game is “If you can’t spot the fish, you’re it.” That makes sense.
POKER DIARY: Do your off-the-table job. Your diary will include significant hands, played well and misplayed, but no bad beats allowed, and copious notes on opponents. Also, track your winnings and losses and hours played. Make this a labor of love, but have fun.

Players who share their diary with me always win but let’s not kid ourselves, I have dedicated students who get out of bounds and stray from the plan. Here’s one: “The table had typical low-stakes players who limped repeatedly, thus creating many multiway pots. I observed that when any of them raised, it meant a strong hand. With this knowledge, I had a pretty good idea of the type of hands they were playing and acted accordingly.”

Please note, this player used to spend 8-10 hours at the table and was losing overall. He now has about seven sessions under his belt and is showing a more than $50-per-hour win-rate. I am not promising you a win rate, just improvement.

He is doing everything I ask and more. Did I mention he’s 78?
Applause.

Here’s another email: “I played four hours today; the first three were fold, fold, fold. Anything I played, I won a small pot or folded on the flop.In the last hour, I got back to down $36.… It was one of the better days. … I was focused, read well and survived the terrible cards and missed flops.The few hands I had in the first three hours I played well won a few small pots and folded when I should.”

Accolades to him because followed his plan, left a little stuck and came back to crush them the next day.

— Mark Brement has spent 15 years teaching and coaching all facets of poker, including at Pima CC. Email him at brementmark@gmail.com.