If you are flying from Los Angeles to New York and your plane is 1% off course, where will your plane end up? 150 miles outside of New York. You’ll be in Delaware. Let’s say you and a friend of yours are in the exact same shape physically. You have the exact same diet. You have identical weight. Identical height. Identical frames. Identical metabolism. Let’s say you start walking to work. It’s only ten or so blocks. You also just stop using certain condiments. You don’t put a spoon of sugar in your coffee. It adds up to 125 calories saved per day. Your friend, however, has a beautiful wife who takes up baking. It turns out she’s amazing at the craft. She starts feeding him some of her delicious cookies each day. He just has one cookie a day, however. He has it with his coffee each afternoon. Can you blame the guy? He starts eating 125 calories extra each day. If you and your friend both keep up your habits, in two years you will have lost 30 pounds. Your friend will have gained 30 pounds.
“Life’s this game of inches, when you add up all those inches, that’s gonna make the f*****g difference between winning and losing, between living and dying” – Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday.
What I just discussed above is from the book The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. I read the book three years ago. I still think of it often. You’d do well to check it out.
For this article, however, we’re going to discuss how making simple changes can help your game and life.
Let’s take weight loss as an example because we were just discussing it. Fortunately for you guys, a few years ago I ballooned in weight. I got to try all these methods for myself. I found myself at 245 pounds at one point. I eventually got myself down to 190 again, before I started putting muscle back on at the gym. For reference, I’m six feet tall with a larger frame. I lost those 55 pounds without dieting or picking up one fitness book. It didn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to lose 55 pounds. My buttery ass at the time had the weight to lose. It was more about making simple adjustments. Every week I gave up one more thing. Fried food. Candy. Pizza. Juice. I didn’t starve myself, though. I just swapped the unhealthy food out for something else that was satiating. To replace candy, for example, you can freeze grapes overnight, and they’ll taste like a sweet.
To make sure I exercised, I introduced the concept of “stakes” as Tim Ferriss puts it. A buddy of mine is at the gym every day. I told him I owed him $100 every time I didn’t show for a workout. Since I’m cheap as hell, I magically found my way to the gym every day I felt terrible. If you don’t have a friend who works at the gym, you can send selfies to a friend of yours. You can also write checks out to political candidates you hate. You can then tell your friend to mail the check to that candidate if they don’t get the selfie. What I just described is not brain surgery. It’s boring as all hell. It’s annoying. But it’s simple. Most humans feel the pain of a loss more acutely than they feel the joy of a win. Use that. It has nothing to do with “how bad you want it.” Motivation is inconsistent. Small changes will make the difference. The same thing goes for your game.
If you want to get better at poker, start putting sticky notes on the mirror. David Goggins calls this the “accountability mirror.” It’s genius. He teaches us to write the day’s most important activity on that sticky note. Put it right on the mirror. That way you have to look at yourself in the eye if you don’t get your objective done. You know you will be back in front of that mirror too at some point. Everyone has to shower, shave, and brush their teeth. It’s a great reminder, staring right back at you. The key to making great strides in poker is to make sure there is only ONE thing on that sticky note every day, and to make sure you crush it.
Day one can be what range to safely open on the button. Day two can be what range to open from the small blind. Day three can be determining what flops miss or hit a big blind calling range. Day four can be determining what flops miss or hit a cold calling range. Day five can be determining exactly how often a person needs to be threebetting for a fourbet bluff to be considered. Whenever you are playing a session, write down situations that confuse you. Write down situations you don’t know enough about. Write down questions you have. Each day, pursue just one of those questions. Sometimes, you’ll roll snake eyes. You won’t come up with much. You’ll find there’s no way to figure out the answer to your question with databases, Flopzilla, Cardrunners EV, or the solvers. But even that is progress. You’ll likely learn some supporting details that can help you in the future. Eventually, you will study something that will help you come back to that problem. Then, you’ll have it made. If you do this every single day, you will be monstrous after years and years. You will find yourself much more comfortable in 99% of poker situations because you will have seen the same scenario in the lab. This is the path to true mastery.
Good luck to all of you.