Monday, August 14, 2006

Bloom's Taxonomy and Poker

Has my game improved?

I was thinking about this question as I agonized through a particularly tough sermon at church yesterday morning. The sermon was tough because I already had discussed it with the pastor so I new what was coming for the most part. Anyway, I came up with a few ideas about my game that I am going to reflect upon in hope of finding the answer.

One idea that I’ve read about is that you have to play 10s of thousands hands before you can start to see improvement in your game. I agree with this whole-heartedly because of the fact that improvement doesn’t happen like the flip of a switch. It is a realization that occurs over time as you experiment with an idea or a style of play that is unnatural for you at that time. As you become comfortable with this new idea, nuances occur and you start the process all over with a new variation of a previous idea. In the end and over time you have the ability to adapt to situations that have occurred in the past and make sound decisions while you play. The anatomy of experience is thus a constantly evolving understanding of the game that allows you to adapt. This is not rocket science but is in fact the way we learn everything in our lives. Some of learn at faster rate then others just like when we were in school. We have A players and we have failing players. The A players have bad tests and the F players have good tests. In the end the As have success and the F struggle with their inept play.

So, like just about everything else, our ability to learn and adapt is the driving force behind our success. This should explain why so many of the great players in the world are college graduates as well as some very successful businessmen. They have gone through the grind of life as a student, learning new things and forging the rest of their lives through study. After time in the working world, or sometimes not, they are drawn to the degenerate challenge of new and constant adaptation of the poker world. Of course, these intellectuals thrive on the challenges placed before them where the want-a-be players shrink at the obstacles that hinder their path. However, is it really intellectuals? Or are they people that have the propensity to be an intellectual?

Many of today’s successful players may not have gone through the learning experiences that many former students went through. Does this mean they are lesser qualified to play the game? They have the same abilities as their well-educated brethren without the time commitments to higher learning. The explanation for this is not hard to decipher. Many brilliant people have forgone the path of higher education. This doesn’t leave them any less intelligent. It only changes the knowledge base they have achieved. In reality, a college degree doesn’t just show all the things that you have learned but in fact shows that you have the ability to learn. A degree doesn’t show that you are more intelligent. It shows that you have a larger base of knowledge to expand upon. In the end, have a master's degree or whatever other intellectual achievement award you have obtained, doesn’t show more intelligence, it show your propensity to learn.

I guess all this can be explained by Bloom’s Taxonomy. In essence, we are all at different levels of learning and thus are chances of success are directly proportionate to the skill level of our opponents. Notice I said chance. It truly is chance in the case of poker because the element of chance is inherent in the game. But what is Bloom’s Taxonomy? It can be categorized as the different levels of learning as it pertains to the human condition.


Anyway, it shows the different levels of thinking that are needed to become a truly successful poker player. The players we want to play against are the ones with knowledge and understanding of the game while the Evaluators and Synthesizers challenge us to improve our game.

Locking back on my progress as a player, I can see the different levels I’ve gone through as well as the ones I still need to attain. There are times when I have touched the top of the triangle but I have not maintained a residence in this position. I think I’m somewhere around the 4th or 5th level for the most part with forays in both directions. This would put me at a slightly better then average play that can make some money in the end. Of course, this is relative to the level of game I’m playing. As you move up to higher games your position in the triangle changes. Overall, to achieve the highest level in Bloom’s Taxonomy, you must be able to do it at the highest games.

Now that I’m through with my term paper, there are players who can play at the highest levels but don’t have the bankroll to do so. The different levels of thinking help them build their financial backing as the move up in limits over time. I’m working on this as a way to categorize my position within the playing world in order to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself.

This evaluation doesn’t improve me as a player but it gives me the tools for future success. I guess that broad knowledge base I gained while attending college did some good after all.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Man it Hurts

My buddy JAG has a 22 year old daughter who just got married last night. Now I'm hung over.

We had a blast dancing and drinking and drinking and drinking. that's what an open bar will do sometimes.

I made a final table yesterday and went into the final table with the chip lead but ended up in third. It was a lot of fun but the blinds were stuck at 4000/8000 and not being raised. I had to be somewhere so after an hour plus playing the final table I got uber aggressive and got knocked out. The game could have gone on for a long time and as it was, I played for 41/2 hours. In about 300 hands I had AA once and kk once. The hand that put me over the top was calling a min raise from the bb while holding 6,4 sooted. It was right before the break but I called anyway. I was an about average stack and playing a chip leader so I t was a chance to double-up. The flop hit me in the face with 6,4,10. I checked my bet and so did my opponent. A Q hits the turn so I raise just in case he has a queen and or a strait draw. He pushes. I think for a moment and put him on his AQ and call. The river fails to help him and I move to higher levels. From that point on I looked to chip up and let the other players knock them selves out unless I had a good hand.

Thursday was a bad day for me. I went on mega tilt after repeated junk shots and drop about 15% of my bankroll. The worst part is that I knew it was happening and continued to play. Eventually I got away and stop the bleeding. I made it back with my third place finish.

Gotta go get the kids from grandma's house.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I like Omaha 8/b.

I repeat I like Omaha 8/b

Yesterday I talked about this game as I reflected on the last week of my play and I want to continue it today. So, I put some money on Paradise yesterday and messed around playing some 1-2 limit hold’em in an attempt to work off their sign-up bonus. I made a little money in a few hours of play and figured out that their bonus is easy to achieve. I continued this morning but couldn’t find a good game so I started playing .50-1 Omaha H/L. Let us just say that in that in 4 hours of table time I made $60 and cleared $10 of my bonus and almost clearing another $10. I am amazed at the inept play of many of my opponents while competing for their money. The name of their game is passiveness and I am more then willing to let them chase my draws. At the same time, they call my raises when they are drawing to slim pickings or when I hold the nuts. Maybe I’m just lucky. I’ll see after I’ve played for a while.

I really think that Omaha H/L is a great place to build my bankroll because the skill level of the average player is much lower then the skill level of the average hold’em player. Either that or I’m not as good a hold’em player as I think I am. It more then likely that I’m not good at either but less bad at Omaha.

I’m thinking about going to the boat next week to play in their Wednesday $165 buy-in tourney. I’ll have to get the money from my bankroll and I’m not sure I want to take a 15% hit right now but I’m feeling good about my game and a nice run at the tourney tables could increase it a lot. I’d like to do it tomorrow but I have a meeting so I can’t do it.

The WSOP is winding down the only mega star left is Allen Cunningham. He is sitting in the middle of the pack and primed to make the final table. I like his chances against most of the remaining players including the chip leaders but we will see.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Back From the Dead.

It’s been a while but I should be back. I took a hiatus from writing because of obligations I had at home that interfered with my time as well as job interviews. It’s amazing how fast something like this blog can get away from your routine if you let it happen. At least I have a strong job prospect that I should have an answer on by the end of the week. The drive is about 30 minutes and it will involve building a quality program from the ground up. It is a good opportunity for me to use the skills I have and gives me the chance to move up within the company in the future. That is if I get the job.

As far as poker goes, I’ve made a few changes to my game. When I last wrote I was playing some tourneys, either SNGs or MTTs, as well as some NL cash games. I was having success but not at the rate that I liked because of the variance of MTTs and because SNGs are just to time consuming for the return I was getting. Additionally, the NL cash games are fun but my comfort level with the stakes I need to play for the bigger returns just isn’t there for me yet. Therefore, I had one option. I returned to the limit game to grind out some cash.

My change to limit started about a week ago and has been a good ride so far. I started at the .25-.50 level at first to become comfortable with the game again and moved to .50-1.00 shortly after. By the end of the week, I was playing $1-$2 and have played there ever since. Right now, my bankroll is a little short for that level being that I only have about 25 buy-ins but the quality of play is weak so I don’t foresee a problem. If I drop to a lower level based on my buy-in criteria then so be it.

I’ve also started to play some limit Omaha HL lately. I’m really enjoying the game and have also seen some good returns at this game. I think my ability to analyze the drawing aspect of the game could be an advantage for me in the long run. In fact, I took third in an Omaha HL MTT the other day so I think this could become another regular part of my poker experience. We’ll see what happens.

Now that the summer softball season is over for the girls, we are preparing for the fall season. Both girls will be playing in a 6-week season that will not interfere with soccer so they will get to continue improving their skills. On a side note, L will be trying out for two other teams for next year as well as for the local team. These other teams play at a higher level and could put her at a national tourney if she makes either of these teams. I think she is ready but it will be a completely new level of intensity for her to play at.

Pauly or CC for great coverage of the WSOP.