The Vision Thing

Poker Planning and Vision

Poker Vision"I gotta get out of bed, and get a hammer and a nail
learn how to use my hands, and not just my head
The sweetest part is acting after making a decision
Start seeing a whole as the some of its parts"
-- Hammer and Nail, Indigo Girls

Former President George H. W. Bush had a problem with "the vision thing" -- a tendency to follow shortsighted policies due to an inability to imagine what lay ahead. I have written about structure, how everything has a beginning, middle and an end. Goals and planning should be a key part of your poker strategy. Yogi Berra said, "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else." To state the obvious, you probably will end up someplace else.

But fitting yourself into a structure and adopting goals is not in itself enough. You need the vision to anticipate challenges that will appear along the way, even if they are not challenges now.

In the 1990s the Los Angeles cardroom's Hold'em limits went from $3/6 to $5/10 to $10/20 to $15/30 to $20/40. A $5/10 player could easily have a goal to develop as a player and a build a bankroll to eventually begin comfortably playing $20/40. But then the cardrooms eliminated $5/10 and started spreading $6/12. This simple change played havoc not only on a lot of players who played $5/10, but also those who played $10/20 (and even the $15/30 and $3/6). Whether it makes any sense or not, three-chip/six-chip structured games play quite differently from one-chip/two-chip and two-chip/four-chip games. The tighter, less aggressive $5/10 games were replaced with much looser $6/12 games. This change led to more action-oriented $3/6 players venturing up to the $6/12 level, which in turn led to those games being even more loose and aggressive.

At the same time, the $10/20 games started to dry up. Two key factors were that action-junkie $6/12 players were turned off by the more sedate two-chip/four-chip structure of $10/20 games, and the slowly-build-your-bankroll $5/10 player basically disappeared. You couldn’t do anything slowly in those $6/12 games. The hyper action very often made big winners or ate up bankrolls. So, there was no “feeder” limit for the $10/20 games. After awhile, the $10/20 games dried up.

What happened next was a Grand Canyon developed between the $6/12 games and the $15/30 ones. The bankroll and skill jump was just too great. The intermediate jump to $10/20, often thought of as the first “serious” limit, no longer existed. Talk about throwing a monkey wrench into that $5/10 player’s plans.

The path to comfortably play in that $20/40 developed all sorts of new detours, hurdles and challenges. While you could still describe the goal as “build a bankroll to play $20/40”, everything was different.

Still, the vision is the same. The details can change, but having and holding onto the vision, the goal, is the truly important thing. If you want to drive from one end of town to another, you might end up on a road where some freak accident has closed all traffic. You really couldn’t have anticipated it, but you do have to deal with it. But in dealing with this sudden problem don’t lose sight of your goal. You still have to get across town. Get... across... town. That is your challenge. That should be your focus. Don’t get lost in the sudden, unforeseen problem. Work to fulfill your goal.

Thanks to Kathy Liebert, years ago I decided to create a poker strategy website. It was fulfilling to me in more ways than one, but one thing I really have learned from the experience is: Building a website is like playing poker. There is no doubt at all that “the vision thing” is the thing. Plan. Decide what you want to do first and figure out how to do it. Don’t just jump in and start building webpages that create an incomprehensible jumble. Don’t just make bets for no reason. Don’t sit in games for no reason. Don’t just “play in the dark” when it comes to your poker career. Know where you are going. Know where you want to go. Make your whole the sum of its parts. Make your choices so that they integrate into an overall game plan that you believe will result in you making your vision a reality.

Also: Poker Structure, Studying, A Variety of Skills and YA Tittle and Losing Poker