seeking the three corners
It’s been awhile since my last blog. I planned on writing something the other day, as I’ve had a bunch of things to say, but didn’t as I couldn’t find any words until tonight. Once I started, I couldn’t stop, and I have even more to say that’ll be coming soon in a few days. If this was a business, I’d probably be wise to break these posts up into shorter segments and post more frequently instead of rarer, longer posts, but whatever.
I guess I’ll break my thoughts into POINTS:
Theory Blogging. I wrote two fairly long theory posts, one about my own personality and one about poker. I’m not finished with the latter, and I don’t know what I did with the former, and unfortunately all I want to write is the personality-theory one but don’t want to start from scratch (edit later : looks like I did). That’s kind of annoying. The poker theory post isn’t anything groundbreaking but it does look at a bunch of things from a perspective I’ve never heard before and I think does a good job of expressing my ideas. Once I finish it, I’ll probably give it to Vivek to critique, modify it somewhat, then.. I don’t know yet. If I really like it, and Vivek thinks it’s highly valuable, then I won’t publically post it and I’ll only give it to people I’m actively coaching or people I want a critique from. More likely, it’ll just be a solid article that I’ll post here/PITR/PokerVT and let it go from there.
Live Poker. For the first three years of my live career, I never wore headphones while playing live. After I turned 21, though, I had the pleasure of sitting with someone who was one of the biggest douchebags I’ve ever met in my life, constantly talking about how much money he had and how awesome he was, all the while being a pretty terrible player in reality. Sitting there with no way to drown out his masturbatory screeching, I was left to bathe in loathing, entertaining myself by fantasizing about all the ways the gentleman might be annihilated and/or eviscerated. After that tournament’s merciful end, I swore to never play a live tournament ever again without bringing headphones. I’ve found that just putting them on without actually playing music is usually enough to stop the extra-annoying clowns from trying to talk to me, so that’s what I’ve been doing lately unless I have the need to drown out someone’s inane babble/harpy-voice.
Obsession. My theory post was about this topic, and I didn’t find it, but decided to write it from scratch, so here goes. All through my life, I’ve had clear bouts of obsession. I’ve only recently had this pointed out to me, by my friend/mentor that I mentioned awhile ago, in that same conversation, in fact. He’s right about this, as well. I was obsessed by so many things over the years, and then usually, the activity was abruptly left by the wayside. When I was actively engaged, though, I usually was pretty good at what I was focusing on, and I tended to live and breathe said activity.
A good recent example of this was a few years ago when I got involved into fighting MMA. I trained every day, ate like a nazi, worked out a ton, wanted to spar with anyone who would work with me, and did little else but fight or train. A few months later, I fell back in love with poker again and cold-quit training/fighting. I don’t think I’ve fought even once since the day I dropped it ~20 months ago.
I feel this level of obsession, if not even greater, taking over now – this time with poker. In the past two months I have developed a massive hunger like I’ve never had before to crush poker, especially live. Every day, and I do mean every day, I’m working on my game and actively trying to improve. I’m discussing hands, watching videos, writing poker theories/articles, responding to any sort of hand sent to me or posted on the PokerVT forums, or, obviously, playing/analyzing my play. I’m just devouring information. I really feel like I’m on a warpath, the end goal being to destroy tournament poker. My confidence hasn’t ever been higher – but I’m not letting that serve as an easily usable excuse for not working on my game – instead, I’m using it to propel me to work harder. I want to crush so badly I dream about poker, something I haven’t regularly done since when I started playing. I’ve been playing cash again, too, and I’m planning on getting back into it fully, as you can see in my…
Poker Goals: My goal this year, as I stated to someone earlier today, was simply “to crush”. However, I guess I should set out some more defined goals. In priority order…
- Win a live tournament. Pretty simple. I feel like once I run good live I will destroy, but this hasn’t happened yet and it’s been a little frustrating. These huge idiot clownboxes win tons of money live, and the only thing keeping me from winning live is variance – or so I think. However, I’ve been working specifically on my live game, and the person who has played with me most in live 10ks+ is Daniel Negreanu – and when I asked him to critique me from a live player perspective, he said he never got a tell or anything off me during our 20 hours of playing together. He recently gave me some more direct counsel, summarized as: “Be patient, you’ll do well in time.” I also heard he called me a “rising star” or something in a UK poker magazine, without ever mentioning he was doing this to me. This is a pretty sick vote of confidence, and I’m honored. I also ought to mention how supportive Vivek has been of helping me with my desire to conquer live poker, as DN is new to team jcarver, while Vivek has been a close friend for seemingly forever. I owe Vivek an untold amount for all his support, friendship, and his time in teaching & helping me grow as a player. Vivek’s always been there to review live stuff with me with as well as the typical online stuff we’ve been going over for years, and I really do appreciate it. With the support of two such high-caliber players, I’m confident this is an achievable goal.
- Win another sunday major, as well as the monday 1k. I actually really want to win the monday 1k, not sure why, but I just love that tournament. This is a pretty easy goal for me since it’s already in line with my usual 95% play rate on Mondays and near 100% playrate on Sundays. Included in this point are some more minor goals – I want to hold the top score on BBC’s frontpage and maybe make another run at OPOY. I actually would set a broader goal of P5’s top 10, bluff OPOY, and maybe OPR or whatever, but these volume-based titles sort of run counter to goal #1 as it’s tough to do both. If I can do it just by playing sundays, though, then great, let’s do it.
- Become proficient (again) at other forms of poker. I think I’ll have no problem getting fully back into cash games as I already feel really confident returning after a 6mo hiatus at cash. I guess I can say something like “win over a 100k sample at 3/6 and 5/10″, but I hate things like that because they’re so arbitrary and dumb. Also, if I’m winning that much money at 3/6 and 5/10, anyone who knows me at all fucking knows I’ll be playing 25/50 before I get to 25k hands of 3/6, nevermind 100k. I should probably be a little bit more of a nit with BR management than last time I took 100/200+ shots, though. Also included in goal #3 is to become good at HORSE and 8game, both of which DN has offered to help me with. Pretty sure I can’t be terrible at either with some high level coaching + putting the time in to learn them.
Obsession, continued. One of my longest obsessions was teaching karate. I took it very seriously and worked very hard to become the best instructor I could – it came pretty naturally to me, and I loved teaching from the beginning. I put a ton of time into learning all I could about karate, teaching, and the industry. Eventually, I was given control of the 4-6 year old program at an unheard-of 14 years old, after having had only 2 years of teaching experience. The program had only a meager 6 children enrolled when I started. I’m pretty sure being given the program wasn’t so much a vote of confidence by management, more of a “here go nuts it’s a freeroll for us”, but that didn’t matter to me at the time.
I took control of my project with a drive unparalleled by anything I’d done before. I made all the necessary phone calls, arranged events, did pretty much everything both administrative and active on the deck, and worked endlessly to build rapport with all my students and their parents. I taught every class, 5 or 6 days a week, plus the admin work, all while going to school, loving every minute of it. I spent my days thinking about how I could improve the program, learning new drills, or finishing my curriculum for next month, and spent my nights amongst my students. More important, I think, than being naturally good at it, I wanted to be good at it and I was determined to succeed. I never turned down a chance to improve myself, my activities, or my program.
Primarily through word of mouth, my program grew incredibly rapidly. We went from having initially only 6 students enrolled to over 100 regular students in only one year. It was a pretty fun time in my life, even though I was making pretty much no money doing an insane amount of work (people were making money, just not me), but I was obsessed with making that project the best it could be. When the time came where I was supposedly decided on going away to college, management decided it was wise to “wean” the students off onto a replacement primary instructor, and even though I eventually decided to stay home for college, management’s decision was already made. The program disintegrated, as far as I know, after it was mostly wrested from me. I taught for a few more years, but my passion for martial arts instruction peaked with that 4-6 year old program.
My time as a martial arts instructor taught me many things, not least of which was that I truly do enjoy teaching. I’ve found teaching poker to be a very agreeable experience and have been enjoying it quite a bit. I’ve had mutually beneficial and positive experiences with almost everyone I’ve taught in the past, and I’m truly happy that I am able to open a door of opportunity for some people whom without my help might not be able to take this rather unique path of existence.
In recent days, I’ve been considering taking on one or two new students. This idea is bolstered by my recent reading of the Analects of Confucius, the great teacher, who seems to have a great deal of things to say to me - especially as an instructor. Confucius states :
“I do not open the way for students who are not driven with eagerness; I do not supply a vocabulary for students who are not trying desperately to find the language for their ideas. If on showing students one corner they do not come back to me with the other three, I will not repeat myself.”
This passage happened to strike me rather deeply as I happened upon it while considering taking on my next student and made me ponder what virtues I’ll be most looking for in them. Someone remarked to me recently that I seem to be extremely open and dedicated to the growth of my students. This is true, I said. I will openly discuss everything I know with my students, if they are willing to ask the questions and able to hear the answers (no point discussing high level stuff if you don’t know basics, that sort of thing). This same person then replied how silly it seemed that not all of my students have taken advantage of what I offer in knowledge, but he theorized no matter how many thousands of people would love to have the same opportunity of learning, I cannot force some individuals to be motivated – at least not for long. Potential may be left untapped, things left untaught, an opportunity might be on the verge of being forever wasted, and it’s tough to see your students not reach their maximum potential. Such things may be the greatest downside of being a teacher.
I’ve been here before. I’ve seen many superb students quit because they had other priorities or had no love of the arts. We’ve all seen organizations or people not achieve the most they could have, not due to lack of talent, but lack of dedication. Some people just don’t have the hunger, and as a teacher, no matter how much you want to impart them with your own passion, every push is just that – a push. A teacher can only push so many times before realizing the simple physics that moving an object by force does not mean the object is ever going to keep moving for long once you stop pushing. Without one’s own drive to want to succeed, without the desire to learn, without the thirst for knowledge, without the impetus for self-improvement, how can one ever be an exemplary practitioner of his art and achieve what he is capable of? Are these two goals not most commonly the goals of any good teacher as well? Once it has been attempted by the teacher to inspire, create passion, motivation, hunger, but the results are consistent only in being ephemeral, one wonders if perhaps the desire to find the other three corners is more important than the speed or natural skill one has in finding them.
part 2 coming in a few days.