This is the transcript, chapter 5 of 6, for the PaceMakesTheRace Podcast: Interview With The Gambler, which originally published in 2012!
The Pro Gambler’s identity is restricted to us knowing his name is Jeff. This is really great information for today. We trust you will enjoy this series of transcript blogs!
- Getting to Know the Gambler.
- Handling Pressure.
- Cushion & Coaching.
- A Master-Mind Group.
- More about Coaching.
- Becoming a Winner.
Chapter 5: More about Coaching
Dave: What do you look for in a coach? Before that, have you ever changed coaches?
Jeff: No, not yet. I will at some point but it is not because of any unhappiness with my poker coach. I think he is awesome. I do not know where he would fit in the world rankings now, but I say he is one of the top 100 players in the world, maybe top 50.
Not from any unhappiness but because there are so many different styles in poker. I think there would be value to going to another top level coach that has a completely different playing style. Even if I do not adopt that style but so I can understand it more when I run into it at the tables.
Dave: That makes wonderful sense.
I guess I would think of that as exposure coaching. In other words, I want to be exposed to different ideas than what I am trapped in.
I recently experienced this talking to one of our professional level candidate horse players. It is important for him to move up. He wants to take his game to where you are as a poker player.
He came to me and said, “I feel like I am trying to do it your way, and your way is bigger than I want or need to be. Or at least how I see myself at this time. I do not need to make seventy five bets a day. I just want to make fifteen good, solid bets with an 8% advantage or something like that. Am I doing myself a disservice by listening to you?”
It opened my thinking to the fact that I need to change the way I coach people. Does that make sense?
Jeff: It does.
I think any time you can learn from someone who is very successful, you can translate that into what you are doing. I will say most recently one of the things that has helped my poker game, and this might sound completely ridiculous. Two months ago I read the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs.
That book, not as much as the coaching I am not going to overstate the value of that book but, getting a look inside the mind of someone who is incredibly successful and how they did things and what controlled them and what they focused more on, to me, was a big help.
I think people who are successful in any endeavor have certain traits in common. One of the keys is trying to identify those traits in yourself and grow them.
Dave: That is a mouthful. You are saying I want to model a successful player. Look at the difference between what I am doing and what they are doing and do it more like them.
Jeff: Right. To find not only just a successful player, but how many people go into business and how many people succeed versus how many people fail. Ultimately, even in business there is a certain amount of luck involved. Somewhere along the way that successful person made better choices.
Why did they make those choices? How do they arrive at those decisions? Understanding that, and getting inside their mind, and trying to figure out how they look at things.
Ultimately whether you are playing poker, or betting on horses, it is about making decisions and how successful people arrive at decisions and trying to make yourself better at arriving at decisions. I do not think I can understate the value. Even looking a little bit outside of what you are doing to find people that you can take a little bit of what they do and incorporate it in what you do.
Dave: Do you think that coaching is really necessary to take one’s game to the next level?
I would say in whatever you do, if you are out there on your own trying to figure everything out, people who have a propensity to be successful will figure it out. But, do you want to figure it out in a matter of months? Do you want it to take a couple of years to figure it out? I do not know about you but I am too old to wait a couple of years.
Dave: I get it. We do not have unlimited time.
Jeff: Exactly. If you could have jumped started your success thirty years ago by simply investing your time and a little bit of money..
Dave: Actually you are really preaching to the choir here. About two years ago I hired a business coach and I made a decision to change the way we did things. It has made a huge difference in everything; from our business to our productivity and even my horse play.
Something that came out of that coaching was the statement that I heard; where this guy talked about the Paretto Principle, the 80/20 rule, and the idea that 80% of the population produces 20% of whatever.
One of the things he said is that “There is the 80%-ers and the 20%-ers. The 80%-ers in the horse racing world are the people that go to the races, pick up their racing form, they lose, and one week is the same as the next. They might read a book once a year but the truth is they have no intention of improving.
Then there is the 20%-ers who are constantly trying to improve themselves. If you look at the 20% there is an 80/20 rule within them. In other words the 20% of the 20%, the upper 4% that are really going after it.”
Does that make sense in poker too?
Jeff: It does.
Like I said, I will spend a lot of time reviewing hand history and going over “Why did I make this decision?” “Was it the right decision to make?” “Would I make that decision again?” and “How could I do it differently?”
If we were talking horse racing; let us say I finish a day, played three tracks, five races in each track, so I made fifteen bets over the course of the day. I handicapped the races in the morning and kind of structured my bets and as it got closer, I looked at scratches and the actual odds.
Then I get my final structure on my bets, make my bets and the day is over and I have either won or lost money. If your day stops right there you are not improving. Whether you do it after the races that day, or the next morning, I would say take a look at your bets. Not only your winning bets but your losing ones.
Dave: Recently I had a conversation with a guy I am coaching. Pretty well known guy. I will not mention his name. His position was that once he gets his system in place then he never has to change anything because “that is it, I have arrived.”
I tried to explain to him that winning at anything is a complex, adaptive system. It may work for a year or six months or two years, whatever. But there is a clock ticking, you must constantly be improving because the competition is improving.
Jeff: I will use a poker example; if you look at before the poker boom and in tournament play, when people would raise they were only raising with good hands. They were raising a large amount like five or six times the big blind.
Then, you had the poker boom. You had a lot of people who came from other backgrounds like chess and backgammon who decided that raising that much does not make sense. The raises moved more towards three times the big blind.
Then you had people who wanted to play more hands, who saw it as a flop game. They wanted to see more hands cheaply and were only raising two and half times the big blind and they saw that people were folding.
Now it has really swung towards a lot of minimum betting, just raising twice towards the big blind and people are still folding towards that. So why on earth, when I am playing, would I want to raise three times the big blind when I can just raise twice the big blind for the same reward. Because if people are going to fold, they are going to fold. I am risking less to win more.
Dave: Because your goal is to drive them out and you can drive them out with less money.
Jeff: Right, but that will change.
You see it with the better players. If I am at a tournament with better players and they only raise twice the big blind and I am sitting in the big blind with a very marginal hand, it does not cost me a lot to see the flop.
So I am going to start calling with a wider range of hands hoping to get lucky. I am not risking that much to see if it is luck. Most players have not adapted to it yet so the smaller bets are working. Sooner or later people are going to adapt to smaller bets. They are going to start calling with a wider range of hands, playing back with a wider range of hands and people are going to have to adapt.
I do not know if it is going to be towards larger bets or additional bets or however people are going to adapt. I guarantee you that in a year, poker is going to be in played differently than it is today.
Dave: That is awesome. I think it works for horse racing too.
There are also things that everyone “knows” and maybe they have known it for forty years. Then one day you go into the office and you find it is no longer true.
In horse racing, favorites used to win 33% of the time. They do not anymore, they now win 38%.
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