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Grind and Study Routine for <4 Month Supernova Elite Chase - Micro Overview

 photo IlS007: Coaching (ProfessionalPokerVideos.com). Instagram - pokerandpt. Twitter - ILS007
Continuation of my <4 month Supernova Elite chase debrief

In any given day during the Supernova Elite chase, the timings of what I did would vary quite drastically. However, the processes that went into completing the chase were pretty constant throughout. In fact, they are the same processes that I have used consistently for the last few years when working independently as a professional poker player. I hope to share some insights in this blog.

Creating an environment for working

Approaching professional online poker playing is tough. It's really tough. Basically, you are trying to formalise something which otherwise is very informal, recreational and simply a game that is played at home.

Distractions

Procrastination, food/drink etc., other people at home, neighbours, friends/family calling etc.

If you look at the above list, in a professional work environment these problems do not really exist. You are put into an environment where you can't login into social media sites, check the football scores, watch TV or a dancing cat. Instead, you are surrounded by your work, and not much else. Lunch breaks and tea breaks are standardised to ensure that you do not need to worry about this during work shifts. You may have your own office, or you will share a work space with a corporate culture which encourages work getting done (usually). There will be some distractions with other colleagues, but nothing which completely interferes with your work and headspace. Friends and family are cutoff from contact outside of breaks, unless in the event of an emergency.

Now consider just how difficult it is to re-create a similar environment for grinding poker at home. In my opinion, it's simply impossible. In order to really approach your work professionally, you must formulate a work routine which will lessen these distractions as much as possible. In the most extreme case, getting your own office (not at home), and literally going to work is probably the optimal solution, but has to be factored against the advantages that working at home provides, such as time saved commuting to work, time saved getting ready, cost-saving of office etc.

Whenever I am about to sit down to work, whether that means coach, study or play, I make sure my wife knows in advance I will be doing so, and try and create an action plan for the day which I can share with her so we're both on the same page. You can't expect those around you to just 'get' what playing poker involves, and what environment you require. Communication is really important.

Once I have an action plan, I then think to myself how I am going to approach it. When will I need to sleep the night before? When will I be able to eat? When can I take time out? How many playing hours can I expect to push out? How much studying will I be able to fit in? Basically, I'm really examining every component that goes into the end result. This way you breakdown your day into working units, labour hours, free time. If you don't do this, your day is shared between your social and poker life, with crossover. There is no 'work' area. This might seem like an overkill approach, but once you get into a professional mindset, your actions will become professional and your environment will be a professional one when you are at work.

Executing your work successfully

In terms of the immediate preparations before a grind, and after a grind, I have already discussed my pre- and post-grind rituals in separate posts here on TiltBook. However, in those posts I only discussed the mindset side of things, and did not go into any real detail about the practical side of things, so I'll discuss that in some more detail here.

Before I sit down to play, I may review some hands/spots I've marked from previous days, or created in my head. I find a lot of the areas of the game I need to study come from just thinking in general, usually in the shower. To really excel in poker, and most things, the ability to come up with new ideas and think creatively is essential. Depending on regurgitating ideas of others will only get you so far. I am confident that the players who are at the top of the game go through a similar process. So challenge yourself to try and do the same. You will probably just be completely blank most of the time, but the more you force yourself to try and think about spots in your head, the more sophisticated your problem-solving abilities will become, and the less robotic your approach to the game will be.

I hope this is one of the areas I gain an advantage is. In chess, top players develop extremely strong visualisation abilities, to the extent where they can play through full games in their head without a chess board, and even while in the middle of a tournament game, they can see the future course of the game in their head with an incredible level of accuracy. I never got to such a level, but nevertheless developed some of these abilties which I could then apply to poker. This is especially useful for tournament poker players who can benefit from assessing not just the current hand, but its implications on the future of the tournament. For cash game players it is less important, but in terms of meta-adjustments and the psychology at play it can still be useful.

So, before playing I have gone through some of these things, which helps warm-up the brain for multi-tabling later. It also provides confidence in your game, given that you have plugged leaks, and actually leads to better EV if those spots come up in your playing session and you make the correct decision with this new-found knowledge. So I definitely think it is a good idea to study a bit before playing.

After playing, I almost always find there are a few annoying spots which came up in my session which I would like to review quickly. So I do, but it is important not to study at length. If you want to pace your work, and maintain continuous, good volume, you cannot afford to burn yourself out by overtaxing yourself. I think after an intense session of playing, you need to give youself a break. So sort out the few really troubling hands which will otherwise stay in the back of your mind all day, and after 5-10 mins max, just get away from the computer. Get away from chatting, get away from browsing, if possible get out of the house into some fresh air. This is our work break, and it needs to be a real break to recharge the batteries and our emotions. A good work break in a standard job is not spent at the computer.

Essentially this process is 'rinse-and-repeated' for as long as I have available that day.

Outside of this, I have separate work sessions which do not involve playing. These are either coaching or study/research sessions, all of which contribute to my poker education. I use the word 'education' on purpose, because I approach poker quite similarly to how I approached my academic studies. Last year I treated poker like a PhD, and put in the volume and quality of theoretical study and analyses that a PhD at university would involve (in my unqualified opinion). I think amongst poker players there has become a culture of 'copy-paste' into calculators, click play on coaching videos, or ask a coach what we should do here. Those are all incredibly useful tools/resources, but notice that each puts your education in the hands of something/someone else. To truly undertake unique and theoretically significant study, you must actually study YOURSELF. By this I mean using similar processes to the 'shower' study I mentioned earlier. It means going through hand histories independently, assessing theory independently, asking yourself questions instead of the friend/coach. In this way you will become more confident in knowing how to learn, not just in what you are learning.

I hope this post provides some useful insight into the way in which I approached my Supernova Elite chase within any given day. Equally, I expect it does not provide the kind of discussion that many would expect from such a post.

 

The real recipe for success is understanding the mechanics of success, not the content of success.



In my next blog I will discuss the emotional side of the chase, and of professional poker in general.

Thanks very much for reading and good luck at the tables,

-Ivan

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