Jamie "buffyslayer1" Wilby
So like most poker players I am not really much of a writer, I am more of a math based guy. When the investors at bitB asked for a blog post from each of the coaches I honestly didn’t really have any clue where to start, or what to write about that might be of value. So after an embarrassingly long time I came to the conclusion that like many things in life, you should do or in this case write about what you know.
I have coached probably over 2,000 hours and hundreds of players over the last 5 years or so. I have a great deal of experience of how people utilise their study time in general. I would say that in all that time I have only ever had a handful of players who took ownership of their learning process properly to the extent a professional should.
Before we continue I want you to ask yourself, ‘Do I take ownership of my learning?’ Have a think very briefly about what exactly that means and we will address this question further later on.
I expect there to be a mix of reactions from “yes I do” or “I do a bit but, could do more” to “No, I need to improve in this area”. To those who are saying well isn’t that your job as a coach to do this? In fact one of the most common reasons people seek coaching is because they don’t know how to study or what to study. This is totally understandable as often you either don’t know what your leaks are so you need someone to point them out to you and more importantly you don’t know how to study to fix these leaks effectively.
However the above is not taking ownership in my opinion, it’s just the start. Many players think that coaching and training sites are some form of magic pill and that by attending group coaching sessions once a week, having 1-1 sessions and watching Run It Once videos four times a week equates to productively having studied that week.
I am going to take you through some examples of this and want you to have a quick think about how you approach these situations currently yourself.
So you have a coaching session and you decided that you would like to review a recent deep run you have had. Maybe you binked something or maybe you had a deep run and thought you played poorly and wanted an objective opinion. How would you approach the session with your coach normally? Take a few moments and reflect on what you would do and be honest with yourself......
Ok, so if we are being honest perhaps 20% of you would hit your coach up on Skype, Discord or via email a few days before the session saying you wanted to look at a hand history in the session and you may or may not send the actual hand history then to them. Maybe 50% of you would contact your coach 10 minutes or so beforehand sending through the hand history or loading it up on your side. 25% of you would either load it when the session began or send it to the coach at the beginning of the 1-1.
These numbers are not scientific of course but I know it’s roughly like this since only one or two people in those thousands of hours of coaching has done anything differently. When thinking about what you would do to approach the session did it occur to you to contact your coach a week in advance to send him the hh you wanted to look over and ask him to give it a once over 1st and prepare for the spots you played poorly? Did you run it yourself at any point marking the hands you found difficult and wanted guidance on? Did you have a notebook or notepad with questions written down that you wanted further elaboration on for those spots? We could have gone one step further and only sent those hands we wanted to discuss in a little more depth if we really were not fussed about seeing all hands for ‘game flow’. Did we have some back up hands and other ideas to discuss in case the hand history finishes early or doesn’t work out? Sometimes people send incredibly straightforward hand histories to review hence another good reason for checking it yourself beforehand. Did you even have a notebook ready for the session to write down things? Better yet did you record the session? I would guess less than 10% of my student’s record sessions and it’s incredibly effective for later use as you can watch it back and make more detailed notes and if you have questions or don’t understand something then fire them off to your coach post session.
A few of you might have thought about a notebook to write things down and a couple of you thought about recording the session. I doubt many, if any, considered or do all of the above when they attend a coaching session. Even those that do so rarely follow up with questions or new ideas afterwards. One could argue that a good coach will do a lot of these things for you. I make detailed notes myself of each session and keep them in a file and will often send a little summary to the student afterwards. However, this is what I mean by ownership. The people coaching you or providing material for you to learn with don’t have as much of a vested interest in your learning as you do.
Even those who have the privilege of being in a top stable where lots of this material is available for ‘free’, where the stable does have some vested interest. They should not have to hand hold to improve you as a player.
Let’s look at another common scenario and again be honest with yourself. You decide to watch a training video on some specific topic that you need to work on. How do you approach doing this? It is now somewhat obvious based on the last example how we should approach it but how would you normally approach it previous to reading the above. Maybe you watch it on 1.2x speed and feel smug that you have saved yourself some dead time! (I do this all the time :) ) Perhaps if you were feeling particularly studious you asked some questions in the videos thread on the Run It Once forum. You didn’t understand why and how the producer constructed his sb 3b range vs the btn for example. So you ask for some deeper guidance as how to construct such a range.
When thinking about how you would approach this, did we speak to our peers to see if they watched the video first and if it was good? How many times have we watched a training video and realised it was a complete waste of time and energy ? Did it take you two hours to watch a 45 minute? Wait what! Weren’t we feeling all smug about watching it on 1.2x speed a moment ago. Well if we are watching a training video from start to finish without pauses every 5-10 minutes or so to make notes and write down questions either the content is not challenging enough or we are doing it wrong.
Did we go back and watch any parts of it again that we were not clear on? Write down questions about various spots and ask either the video producer themselves or our peer group on those spots? Did you think about or seek feedback about how to implement the concept that was covered via your coach or stable mates ? In other words did you think at all how you were going to get value from what you learnt?
These same ideas can be applied to poker books or whatever training material you use. I don’t watch that many training videos but from my own experience it took about a year to read Will Tipton’s HU No Limit books 1 and 2. I probably actually read them twice in reality due to re-reading parts of it and I have three notebooks full of notes on them. I highly recommend them if you are interested in GTO play at all.
In my time coaching what I have seen is that those that put the most into their sessions and learning are those that get the most out of it. We are all human and maybe we don’t need to go to these extremes every time but a lot of these things should be standard. I have had some coaching sessions with players that have been complete car crashes and it still amazes me the large number of people turning up for a session with literally no idea of what they want to work on in the session or telling me 10mins beforehand.
One of the most common ones at the moment is people wanting to learn how to use a piece of software like PIO or flopzilla without even having watched the introductory videos available on the site! I am sure the way to spend valuable coaching time is have the guy coaching you literally showing you how to open the software and use basic functions!
Homework is another example, in most of the theory based sessions I do I set the student some homework for us to review in the next session. I am not a school teacher, I am not giving detention if they don’t do it; it’s for their benefit not mine in the end. The idea behind it is to reinforce the learning process and also the study process so they can replicate this themselves. I can also make sure they understood what we talked about and correct off base thought processes that linger.
This is one of the very reasons a lot of people want coaching in the first place right. Have a guess how many actually do the homework? Probably less than 10% and I would say probably only 1% does it to the level required.
Hopefully after all the above you have a clearer idea of what I mean by taking ownership. It’s no surprise that those that put the most into their learning are the ones who improve at the quickest rate.
I just want to finish off with a few words about bitB Staking before we wrap it up. I have coached for about six stables in total over the years and I can say without doubt it really is the best in the business and it’s not even close. The coaching roster is top quality and the video library is excellent. In fact I would say it’s on a par if not better than Run It Once for MTTs. This is no surprise since probably the two best Run It Once video producers also happen to be bitB Staking coaches.
The guys make it so easy with scheduled coaching, streaming sessions, stat analysis and there mentoring system. Overall I would say the quality of bitB’s badgers is quite a bit higher than other poker players in regards to taking ownership but, without naming names, there have been some lapses also.
The forum chat and discord are very active and the whole stable is full of very smart capable people, plus there is a great community feel. All the tools are there for anyone to crush; If you are lucky enough to be part of this group don’t waste it. It’s very easy to get spoon fed with the resources available and taking a passive role in your development, don’t fall into that trap.
So I leave you with the same question we began with. Are you taking ownership of your learning?