Jans "Graftekkel" Arends
Meeting the right people in poker is one of the key factors that is going to determine your development as a poker player. We all know there's a lot of variance in poker, especially in MTTs. What we often do not realize is that there is also a lot of chance and variance involved in who we meet throughout our career. I have been lucky enough to meet some great people.
I started playing MTTs 'seriously' around 2012, after binking the Sunday Million for 200k. Through this score I now had a large bankroll and I realized that there was probably a lot more money to be made. I noticed that people weren't exactly playing amazing in MTTs. However, I wasn't exactly playing amazing myself either. To be honest I was pretty bad at that time. I remember not really putting too much effort into getting better, which resulted in me roughly breaking even for the next ~5k games. Besides the obvious problems of laziness and overconfidence after a big score, I didn't have any clue how to get better at the game. Around that time there weren't too many good training sites, most poker books were already outdated and the software tools that were around I had never heard of. I didn't play any live poker and didn't know anybody in the poker world. I didn’t have anyone to discuss strategy with.
I think a lot of people have been at this point, and what happens next is likely to determine the success we have in our poker career. A couple of my real life friends played poker too, but they were mostly focusing on cashgames. Luckily I got in touch with Foeke (known as ElMagico19A1 online) through a mutual friend. He played exactly the same stakes as me, and after some time we started to regularly discuss strategy. During this period I think my game improved a lot, and I went from a breakeven shitty reg to being a solid winner.
Having someone to bounce ideas off was extremely important. It kept me focused and motivated. We both had a lot of different leaks, and we were able to plug a lot of them together. We tried new things in-game and discussed them after. We tried and discussed new software tools together. These things get a lot easier when you do it together with someone. After years we still discuss strategy almost weekly, and we travel to live stops together.
The next big step in terms of meeting the right people is for sure joining bitB as a coach in the beginning of 2016, and I don't just say that because they pay me! bitB truly is an amazing learning environment, I learn something new through the stable almost every day.
It is amazing to see such a big group of guys who all have the same mindset, who all want to learn and improve their game. One of my conditions for joining was that I would have access to all content in the stable, and I’ve watched and read most of the content that has been produced by the stable. I attend a lot of the group sessions of other coaches and very much enjoy it. I don't think there is one coach I cannot or did not learn from, but I especially learned a lot this year from guys like Apotheosis, BenCB and Oxota who also play different formats and therefore have a very interesting view on MTTs.
It's not only the coaches that have interesting views though. There's a lot of players in the stable with different backgrounds who I have had so many interesting discussions with. I really enjoy reading and responding to hands people post in the strategy chat or on the strategy forum. Having to coach people has made me more hungry than ever to get better at the game. If I look back on the progression on my game over the years I would say 2016 is the year I progressed the most.
I have been very lucky with the people I have met through poker, and I realize not everyone gets this lucky. It could very well be that you are at the point I described earlier, and you don't know how to go from there. There's a lot of things you can do.
Try to reach out to people who play your stakes or just above. Get coaching from someone you think is good. Start coaching people who are just below you in skill level. Join a stable. MTTs are still very soft in 2016, and there is still a lot of room for improvement, exploitation and profits. Although it is not impossible to get very good on your own, it is much easier and more fun with the help of other people!