Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Picking Your Spots, Finding Your Targets

Just wanted to post a short one today pointing to a new piece over on Learn.PokerNews by Nate Meyvis, co-host of the great Thinking Poker podcast with Andrew Brokos. Am feeling pretty good about the quality of contributors we’ve gotten over at Learn over the last couple of months, and Nate again brings some great ideas and good writing to help up the overall quality over there.

In his article titled “Seven Attention Targets for Beginning Poker Players,” Nate points out how it’s obviously good to try to pay attention at the tables -- a much-repeated maxim we’ve all heard -- but it’s also important (or more so) to be paying attention in ways that are actually constructive. That is to say, following the action and not “checking out” mentally when not involved in a hand is all well and good, but you should also be looking for some specific actions and behaviors, too, as you gather information about your opponents.

The list of “attention targets” Nate provides includes a few I hadn’t really considered before. Like I say check it out, and maybe click around a little, too, just to see what else has been happening over on the site. Still somewhat in “building” mode over there (and I expect will be for a while), but there have been several good contributions there already and I’m optimistic about what’s to come.

I’ve mentioned before here how the Learn site -- directed primarily toward newer players although also meant to be of value, too, to those with some experience -- has gotten me thinking more and more frequently about getting started with poker and the many questions I had then, as well as all of the things that made the game seem so fascinating and appealing to play, read and talk about, and watch.

Nate’s topic reminded me how in a lot of cases my own study of the game during those early days was without any real focus, nor was it even conducted with any specific goal in mind. Not usually, anyway. What I mean is I would read and watch everything without much idea how to discriminate between information that was genuinely useful or content that was without much value at all. Kind of like when you are a kid and first start recognizing songs on the radio -- you pretty much liked them all, right?

As my understanding of the game grew, so, too, did my ability to be more selective about strategy advice and to get an idea of what worked and what didn’t, or what was original and what wasn’t. I guess on one level it was good to have that open mind at the start that didn’t automatically refuse certain types of content based on received prejudices. But after a while it became apparent that not everything written about how to play poker was necessarily helpful.

I guess I’m alluding to at least three stages of learning that likely happen for most players -- an initial one in which we start playing without even thinking about strategy or the need to study, a second stage in which we get introduced to studying and want to take in everything, and a third in which we’ve learned enough to begin to differentiate between different types of study and determine which are the most useful to us.

Nate, I think, is addressing those who are moving into that third stage who know it’s good to pay attention -- and want to do so -- but are still working out where it is best to focus that attention. Like I say, check out his list of “attention targets” and see if one or more of them prove useful to you.

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