While recording content recently for PokerCoaching.com, I started the practice of recording my sessions online while playing. I do this in hopes of catching a final table run live on camera, or to review my play later as WSOP.com does not allow the use of tracking software. I was debating whether I should do commentary live or post production in these instances. This past Sunday, I recorded 12 hours of screen time, 8 tabling, and noticed some promising patterns.
This past Sunday I fired up Camtasia video software while playing my normal Sunday schedule. $3000 in buy-ins, 8 tables and around 30 tournaments. While doing this, I also recorded commentary on my decisions the entire session. I thought this would be easier and save time, so I would not have to go back and do commentary on parts I wanted to use in coaching or content. What I found was that I played A-game zone poker for far more hours of my session than I have in recent memory. I noticed multiple benefits of talking my thought processes out loud for the entire 12 hours. I had a very clear and concise decision making process. I was very attentive to details. Most importantly, my range construction and deconstruction of opponent’s ranges were on point. I was doing everything I know I should be doing while playing. I was in the zone.
Getting In The Zone
Zone poker is something I have wrote about in the past. Being in the zone is playing my best poker possible. I have several attributes that occur when I am in the zone. I notice my heart rate and breathing slow, it is almost impossible to distract me during hands. My decision making process is thorough, detailed, yet concise. I plan ahead in hands and know what I am doing on different runouts. Time slows down for me and small details appear effortlessly during hands. What I noticed last Sunday was that talking out loud and recording my thoughts allowed me to achieve this poker for a higher percentage of my session.
I did not have a specific plan for these recordings. If nothing panned out during the session, I would simply delete the recording and no harm is done. Recording myself though forced me to be detailed and have a strong explanation for every decision I made. I was talking as if you were watching me play the session, as if I was having a conversation with someone. I remember a specific river check-raise bluff deep in a tournament. I justified the bluff on a JJxxx board and a bet sizing tell that suggested the player was making a thin value bet. Thru my holding of A-Q offsuit, I was blocking his Q-J suited and AJ’s and was confident that he was not flat calling K-J offsuit preflop. The raise got through. The key point was not that he folded to the raise, I had a specific reason for raising my specific hand. I could have called, he only bet half pot. I analyzed through his bet sizing, and combo metrics of the hand (blocking his suited value range and also A-J offsuit, his most common offsuit value hand) that raising was the best decision. I made what I thought the best decision was and followed thru. I could have cared less if he called at that point with 7-7.
Have Someone Watch, Even If It’s Yourself
What I want you to take from this article is play poker like someone you respect is watching you. I try to play like my students are watching me at all times. For you PokerCoaching.com members, play like Jonathan and I are watching over your shoulders. IF you play online, talk out loud to us about your decision and why you make them. If you play live, learn to think in your head without talking like we are in a chair behind you watching. This forces you to play with a purpose. I promise if you have to justify every decision, your decision making process will improve quickly.
Best of luck at the tables