Detox Files #3: Do You Trust Yourself Enough To Be A Live Pro?

Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast: Detox Files Episode 003

What Are The Detox Files?

Founder and CEO of Poker Detox, Nick Howard, joins the Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast to sit down with Coach Brad Wilson and share consults, advice, and poker guidance for players (current or aspiring) who are looking for a path forward in the game and striking a healthy balance with their overall life. Every poker player experiences anxiety, downswings, uncertainty, frustration, and doubt in their poker journey. The man who has helped countless players detoxify these elements from their poker mindset joins up with the CPG pod to share these enlightening sessions and consults.

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The first real deep dive into the unrealistic expectations that people have for scientifically navigating a career as a live player. It comes down to how much you trust yourself.

If you’re not someone who’s not comfortable navigating on intuition, live is probably not a career that’s ever going to offer you the security you’re looking for.

Click any of the icons below to find the CPG pod on the platform of your choice. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy my conversation with Nick Howard from Poker Detox on the Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast.

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Transcription of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Presents: Detox Files #3: Do You Trust Yourself Enough To Be A Live Pro?

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Brad: What is happening my friend? Coach Brad here and I just wanted to let you know real fast that these episodes are experimental and a little different than what you’re used to. Their career consults Nick Howard did for free to aid folks along in their poker journey. They ended up turning out so chalk full of value and dripping with greatness bombs, that he wanted to share them with as many folks as possible, so I gladly agreed to help him spread the word on Chasing Poker Greatness. If you love these episodes and find them especially valuable, please let me and Nick know and we will continue to collaborate in this format in the future. Also, as somewhat of a spinoff from Nick’s career consult idea, I’ve created a similar offer for you in aspirant episodes of Chasing Poker Greatness, where you and I have a heart to heart discussion on your specific poker situation. And we come up with a plan together so that you can progress and move forward with more clarity and purpose. If this sounds like something you desperately need, head to and book your poker career coaching session today. The price is $100 and the session will last one to 1.5 hours. One more time, that’s And now, on with the show.

Brad: Alright, Nick, so now we have Griffin. Any backstory, anything you want to say before we dive into the consult?

Nick: This one’s different. This is a discussion on whether or not live or online is the path for any particular person. This kid comes in as a live player having some doubts about the direction of his live game. And the conversation sort of progresses into a breakdown of how realistic is it for you to establish scientific direction in the live arena. Not that that’s needed to beat live. In fact, I’ve had at least one five-hour discussion with Matt Berkey and Matt Hunt where I felt like we resolved all of our conflicting viewpoints by basically summing it up that if you’re going to play live poker, you’ve got to understand that there’s a lot of extra dimensions that are available to you to gain edge from specifically because you’re at the table and there’s that real, there’s that real world presence to it. There’s not as much data to be gathered as there is online and so it’s a different beast. But if you are okay with cultivating the intuitive edge, and you trust yourself to do it, then live is obviously a very viable option for a career. So, I think what we get into here is if you are not that type of person, are your expectations for a live poker career actually reasonable or should you seek a different path?

Brad: Awesome. Let’s jump in.

Griffin: So, I’m 24 and I’ve been playing poker I guess as a means to make money like as a job for about like a year and like nine months now. I haven’t had a job in that long and I’m playing the 1-3 steak. I’m doing okay, I definitely think I could be doing a lot better but I’m not really sure how to keep improving, I guess.

Nick: Are you putting live?

Griffin: Yes. Sorry, live. I have no experience online. We can’t really play online in Washington. It’s like illegal and you’d have to go through like ignition or something which I’m not really into. And yeah, I mean, my win rates been like pretty consistent over this past like 21 months and I’m kind of like feeling like this like I’m stuck you know, because I want to move on and progress but I feel like I’m not getting anywhere. I feel like I’ve just like hit this like roadblock. And my bankroll, it’s not really been growing all that blankets grown a little bit, but it’s not like really a spot where I can move up and I don’t think I’d be in the game long enough to think I should be moving up anyways. So

Nick: What are you basing the fact that you hit a roadblock on? Your results or just how it feels?

Griffin: I guess it’s the results. And like, you know, I just feel like I’m not moving up in life. I mean, I’m like, I still live, like at home with my mom. And, you know, I kind of feel like I’m not like an independent adult yet. And I’m not like making great money at 1-3, because, you know, it’s tough to make good money at 1-3. I know you can if you’re good, but I, you know, I just guess I don’t know how to get there.

Nick: Okay.

Griffin: But I know what steps I need to take to improve. I do, I’ve been doing like training sites, but I feel like I’ve been like hopping around between them. And I’m not really sure if I’m studying, like, I don’t know, if I’m studying the right stuff. I’m not if I miss applying it, I don’t really have anyone else who’s like, you know, I’m bouncing ideas off of who like plays as much as I do.

Nick: Right. So, you’re playing full time basically over there?

Griffin: Yes.

Nick: Okay. My general sense, just from the few minutes we’ve been talking is that you would benefit from having a methodology that you trusted and that you felt like you could be held accountable too. My current position on live is that there’s not really something out there that I can vouch for, which is a scientific approach, which is what I like, because it provides metrics and accountability pretty naturally. So, I just sort of got off. The last call with a guy where I was having a similar conversation where it almost feels to me at this point, like, if someone wants to approach the game scientifically, as an investment model, trying to map a market and create a strategy to exploit that market, I don’t know that I could recommend live as a trustworthy or scalable model for that, because the nature of it doesn’t allow you to play many hands. That’s the first time. So, the variance is just like, the volatility that you experience is just a ton. And then on top of that, the methods that you have for actually making adjustments to your strategy are just riddled with confirmation bias. And if the pool changes, now you’re trying to say that implementing a change that I observed over maybe 10 or 20,000 hands of real time play. So, none of that really coincides with what is necessary to make a scientific change in your strategy. Which is like seeing a lot of data, observing the trend, and then creating a strategy to exploit the trend. So basically, it comes down to this. If you’re someone who puts a very high emphasis on a scientific approach, I don’t necessarily see a training program in the industry right now, that’s going to give you what you want, the security that you want, and the direction that you want. Basically, because I don’t feel like there’s enough research available to be able to create a scientific model for live, it’s not even a knock on any of the trainers trying to do it. It’s just I really feel like everybody’s sort of groping around in the dark, trying to create something consistent when there’s not enough light in the room to be able to do it, yet. Now, here’s my, the other side of that coin. If you’re someone who feels like you really generate a lot of edge from just reading people, well now that can be sort of a scientific way for you to navigate exploitative thresholds. Like I said to somebody the other day, like if you really feel like you read people, well, then betting the river with a bluff, because the guy really looked like he was going to fold. As funny as that sounds, is a good reason to bluff that river.

Griffin: Like, regardless of like the hand candidate that you have.

Nick: Yeah. So, all I’m doing there is basically saying, if you feel like you have a good read on people, now the live room presents that extra dimension of edge that you might be able to make a real living off of. But in terms of organizing a technical strategy that comes from a scientific method, I haven’t seen anyone been able, who’s been able to do that in live. And again, it’s not an, it’s not a knock on the trainer, or the coach. It’s just the result of there not being vision over that market.

Griffin: No, I understand. And by the time you play however many hands, the game somewhat changing, because it’s slow and you’re not. It takes a long time to play a lot of hands, right?

Nick: Yeah, and you’re never going to be able to play enough hands in enough time to be able to map that environment and make scientific change.

Griffin: Yeah.

Nick: You’re going to, you’re going to be making intuitive changes that are, for the most part unreliable. So, I guess what I’m saying is, if the issue is that you feel like you don’t have direction, I don’t see you being able to provide a format that’s ever going to make you feel secure in your direction. Because to me, it’s for the people who already have massive self-trust in their own ability, whether that be to read people, or they feel like they understand balance very well. That’s the other alternative is you just like resigned to playing a very well-balanced strategy, which doesn’t win as much, but at least you know that you’re not exploitable at that point. It’s when you start going down the exploitative path in live that things get kind of messy, because you don’t really know that your exploits are correct. There’s no way to test them. Like, scientifically, there’s just not.

Brad: All right, I can see how you and Berkey would have a five-hour discussion about live play, given the statement that you just made is very powerful. And do you think it’s actually true that you need a massive self-trust in your own ability to be successful at live poker from the jump?

Nick: With one loophole, which I think would be that you randomly train yourself arbitrarily, almost into whatever the proper frequencies are that map well against the market at that time. I think if over a long enough timeline, assuming a shifting market, it would be virtually impossible for you to get lucky. So yeah, intuition would have to be intelligently geared in order for you to be able to say that it’s worth something.

Brad: So, do you think it’s more of a natural born ability to play poker, versus a systematic approach of improving yourself, even if maybe you don’t have that natural ability when it comes to live versus online?

Nick: I don’t know how to define it. And I don’t know whether or not that’s actually even helpful, because I have talked to a number of intuitively oriented players who have said different things about how they arrived there on that, on that plane of awareness, I guess you could say. What I’ve sort of rested in is that as, as with everything else, I see it as a gradient, where if you’ve really deconstruct what an intuitive impulse is, or if you reassemble, it would actually be a better way of putting it. The intuitive impulse is something that there’s not really a lot there to grab on to. A lot of these guys will say like, I can’t really say what it was, it was a feeling. And if it’s just a feeling, well often we can trace that feeling back to some subtle observations that didn’t even really register in the mind. But the mind is just so fluent at interpreting that, that it shows up as a feeling. So, in that sense, I would say that, if we want to be scientific about it, we can trace a lot of intuition back to observation. And as long as it’s observational, it can be seen as a data point. Now, if that data point is registered in the system, as a feeling, we call it intuition, but it’s hard to say. Now, I think you can go to an extreme with this to where you start to talk to guys like Andrew Weston Berger, Charlie Carroll. And they’re literally talking about feeling a subtle impulse in the field that is just sort of like occurring and spontaneous and gives them some radical, some radical deviation from what their normal baseline strategy would be. And then it turns out to be correct more often times than not. That I think is another form of, that I think, is another level of intuition. That’s something we call basically raw intuition where you can’t even trace it back to any sort of objective data point that would fly in a, that you can’t trace it back to any objective data point that would hold up in court.

Griffin: Right, yeah. And so, when you’re losing you, I get a lot of self-doubt, you know, when you’re going down that path. It’s something I experienced, at least.

Nick: Yeah, I think that’s natural. Like, I don’t even think that that’s an unhealthy amount of stress. Because basically, it’s just your mind telling you like, we don’t have a roadmap for what we’re doing. And there’s no way to check whether or not this is right. So, what are we doing?

Griffin: Yeah.

Nick: Which is tough. Like that’s a tough conversation to have with yourself because it’s like I got into poker because I thought there was a good chance I would have edge and now as I’m getting better, I’m realizing that as I’m becoming more aware, I’m realizing that I don’t actually have a checks and balances system here that adds up. Like, could you present this, could you present it in court and expect people not to call bullshit on it? Or does it just feel like you’re bullshitting your way through? I think most live guys would answer that they really don’t feel confident in what they’re doing on a day to day basis, if they dismantle a spot that they feel confused about. And I’m not saying you have an answer. So, that I know this is starting off kind of like taking the air out of your balloon, but like, it’s a real conversation that that you need to consider as a 24-year-old, like you’re very young. There’s nobody forcing you to go down the live path. The online path has more tools available to be able to provide vision over the market. If that’s what you feel like you draw more security from, the first question I would ask you is, do you feel like you draw more security from having a technical strategy that’s well defined, the method of scientific and there’s accountability? Or do you feel like you draw more edge and excitement out of reading people in general and just trying to do the thing where it’s like, is this guy bluffing me call? Or is this guy ready to fold, I’m on a bluff?

Griffin: Well, when I first started playing, I was definitely the more of the field type. And I was just go, I was playing based solely off that before I really like, learned any or like, attempted to learn any strategy. But as I’ve been trying to learn more strategy I’ve been trying to, I’ve been trying to implement more technical stuff. And that’s sort of where this like self-doubt comes in. It’s just like the implementing the stuff, but it’s not really necessarily changing the results. I mean, I’m still beating the games. I’m still doing, like, I’m not like losing or anything, but I’m not like, doing any better than I was when I was just going based off of feel. I feel like long term I’d like to be able to say I have like a technical approach and strategy. And that’s like, why, when not just that I like, read people well, but I mean, I do think I read people well, because that’s how I was beating the game in the beginning. And I was beating the game in the beginning. So, I feel like I’m at least decent at that. But that’s not exactly how I want to derive an edge, I guess.

Brad: So, Nick, this is really interesting to me, that Griffin is looking to use superior technical ability, rather than his intuitive sense, in order to win at poker. And I just like to hear your thoughts on why that might be happening.

Nick: I think there’s a judgment hidden in the community that even if both sides might be as effective, the technical is valued more than the intuitive. So, if we just actually held both stable for the moment, and just assumed that there is as much win rate to be gleaned from intuitive edge as technical edge, I still think you would see most players say, I want to be part of the technical boat. Because it protects you more to criticism. If you can create a rational argument for why you did something that sort of works towards proof. That’s something that you can sort of wear as a shield when somebody comes at you in a forum or, or challenges your credibility, at sure there’s value in that. There is some value in being able to create a linear argument and show how you arrived at a solution. But I think it’s favored more for the wrong reasons.

Brad: And I would challenge the listener to ask themselves this question, would I rather have five big blinds per 100 win rate that you can quantify, that you can display your superior technical ability, or a six big blind per 100 win rate, that you have trouble quantifying?

Nick: Go, go even higher, like make it 10. What if you could have double the win rate, but not be able to explain what you’re doing. Would you, would you want that? Would you opt for that? I think it’s a weird question. Because it really shows where the value system of a specific player realize the value anchor.

Brad: Right. It’s, do they want the recognition of being a good player so that they can explain it? You know, the social proof, or do they just want to win as much money as possible? Do they want to be the best version of themselves? Because what I see, you know, what I hear listening to Griffin is that the goal, you know, the goal for every poker player is to be the best version of themselves that is humanly possible. And you lose sight of that by saying, at first, I was winning through my ability to read people and the intuitive sense But I’d rather have a superior technical ability, the technical things that I’ve implemented haven’t really increased my win rate. But at the end of the day, I want to be known as a superior technical player. And so that, to me is where, you know, the real root of the issue lies is like, why are you playing poker in the first place? What is the end goal? And are the things that you want to achieve in poker? Like, what are they based on? Like you said, what’s your anchor?

Nick: Yeah, this kind of connects to another question that we usually ask try to get to the bottom of why someone has chosen the career goes like this, would you still play poker, if you could never show anybody your results for the rest of your life? That really shows you if somebody is playing from a passion and a place or a place where they’re needing some form of validation in the form of proof of results, to really get their, to get their hit from the career.

Brad: Let me ask you that question. Which one would you add at various stages of your career? Has this changed for you?

Nick: I don’t think I ever would have been able to answer in the affirmative to that question. I think there was always a part of me, where passion was polluted by a need to prove. And now heading into the coaching transition of my career where I’ve played on and off within. And now I’m sort of in a in a state where I haven’t played a hand in six months, actually, because I’ve almost completely transitioned to just CEO work on the side of running the company. I think about that a lot, and how to frame poker into my life moving forward. And I think I’m closer than ever to being able to incorporate it as a pure passion. But the problem that the mind always deals with is, since it will be a hobby for me only from now on, like I don’t, I don’t really see myself ever putting in enough volume to get to the long run, my mind always will have this, this thing in the back of its, of its mind where it knows that we’re never going to be able to prove that what we’re doing is super winning, because I’ll never put a sample in that allows me to say that this is, this is proof that I’m a 10 or 15 BB winner. Now let’s go back to the live arena. And the problem is universal for those players, they don’t have an option, they could, they could play 2000 hours a year, which is I think, considered full time if I’m not misunderstood. And that will never even get you close to the long run. That’s like 50,000 hands a year. So maybe if you have high enough win rate, maybe. But the biggest problem that you face, even if you are passionate, is that an intuitive quest doesn’t even provide, it can’t provide proof, neither does a technical quest, especially if the environment is changing along the way. So, there’s this entirely separate consideration that exists in live poker that’s completely out of your control, which I think traces back to why it’s so important to have self-trust. You’re never going to be able to get to the long run, while holding variable stable because you’re improving, games are shifting, you’re moving up and down in stakes along the way. You’re only playing what, 30 hands per hour. Not best. So, it’s difficult to say that, that there’s any clear scientific path for self-improvement. I think so much of it is intuitive, no matter what way you cut it, even if you are on a technical path.

Brad: I love this. I love this because I see this in you this search for proof, where proof equals trust. Like I feel like this is how you’re wired as a human being, proof equals trust. And I haven’t ever said this publicly before. It’s somewhat embarrassing, but I’m going to say it. There was a time I went for about a year and a half, where I simply logged on to ignition. I had a HUD that didn’t keep track of hands. So, I had no database. And this ended up hurting me, by the way, professionally. I just played. I didn’t keep track of any of the hands. I didn’t have a database. I didn’t download my hands. I did, you know the only thing that I had was a spreadsheet where I tracked my results on a daily basis. And the reason that I did that was I found it was so much easier for me to play when I wasn’t tracking all of these things. And I could just sit down and play cards and do the best of my ability, not have to look back on how I’m running, how my Red Lion looks, what percentage of showdown I’m winning, what my EV ought to be. All my focus was on just playing cards. And really that year and a half, my results were fucking awesome. My results were awesome. And how it hurt me professionally, was that I couldn’t prove that my results were really awesome, right? I didn’t have the database, the graph to show people the all-powerful graph to show like run at once. Like, these are my results at the higher stakes on Bovada over the last year and a half. I just had the knowledge that, yes, I have been doing very, very well. But I’ll say for that year and a half, when I totally let go, trusted in myself and my ability, the anxiety that I had was heavily, heavily reduced from where it had been when I was obsessing over the graph, and obsessing over the results. And yeah, it’s a, it’s a little bit embarrassing to say that, that I did do that. And it did end up hurting me, but also was very, very helpful. And my results were really, really good. And I can’t prove it to you. So, you’ll just have to trust me.

Nick: Well, the scientists won’t trust you. I mean.

Brad: Sure. And then

Nick: Never, they never will. And that’s the whole messiness of it is that unless the intuition is tested in a scientific way, where there’s a reproducible experiment, it’s never going to hold up. And so, they’ll never actually be in agreement reached by scientists and intuitive, that there could be a middle ground between this and I think that’s a flaw on behalf of both teams. I think it’s the intuitive obligation to try to find ways to present this, this type of skill or edge or extra information in a way that the analytical or the scientists understand. And it’s the scientist’s job to have an open enough mind, and suggest how we could potentially carry experiments out that, that try to prove this thing and like I said, there’s, there’s guys who have done this for, for many, many decades, who have come to the conclusion that intuition isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. But, I think that may be true for the masses, but we’re overlooking a big side of it, if we’re just going to cast a net over everyone, especially the guys who have pretty dramatic results and are saying that they’re getting there based on intuition.

Brad: It is important for me to say that I wasn’t flying blind. I was reviewing hands with students. So, I was saving hand histories, looking at them, analyzing them, I was watching videos, I was still learning. It’s just that I wasn’t tracking each individual hand. And I have to say, like, I guess I’ve always been the type if you were to ask me that question as to whether I would have, rather have five big blinds or ten big blinds and not be able to prove it is like ten big blinds all day long. And I don’t care. I don’t care about proving my win, win rate to anyone. And I think, you know, maybe that’s just how I’m constructed versus you know, how you’re constructed as a human being. But it’s definitely an interesting, interesting line to talk about. I think we should probably get back to Griffin, because this has been a, this is, these are been some long interruptions here.

Nick: This is the hardest one to talk through. For sure. It’s like you can see how difficult it is because you’re trying to bridge two completely different planes of intelligence and try to reconcile them.

Brad: Right. And I guess, I guess the ultimate end question should be, does it matter if an intuitive has great results, and if you label yourself as on the more intuitive side of poker, it should not matter that you’re able to prove it, it should not matter that you’re able to quantify it, or defend what you’re doing. As long as you’re not delusional, you check your delusion, and you’re having success. Those are my final thoughts.

Nick: Here’s the other issue with testing strategy against results is that, especially in live, there’s just a very, very low correlation between how well your strategy is performing against the pool. And the results you’re getting out of it in any one sample, even like a half year of live results is not enough. To give you a really good idea of whether or not your strategy is actually performing well, or whether or not it’s just bad variants, or good variants. Like just to bring it back like you might have sucked at the very beginning. You might have just run well. It’s like totally bought. That’s how most people get into poker is they’re just unaware they’re running well.

Griffin: Yeah, definitely. Definitely could have been the case.

Nick: So, I’m presenting these perspectives. Because they’re, they’re real. And I do sense that you have a natural ability. So, congratulations. And I would also say that there are steps that you can go through in terms of considering certain things that might help you define two important things, are you actually getting fulfillment out of this path long term? And is this actually a path that scales towards something that’s, I guess they’re connected, it’s going to say towards something that makes you fulfilled. Because it sounds like this type of kid where like, if you don’t feel like you’re growing or scaling in a way that’s, that you feel certain and almost, that it’s not going to really fulfill you. So, I don’t know if I’m being too assumptive there. But like, I feel like someone like you would benefit a lot from actually being able to track progress in a way that that you felt confident in. And I feel like you don’t have that right now, because it’s like, are my, my strategy upgrades actually converting to performance upgrades? While my results don’t say, say that that’s going on? So, should I change my strategy again? Or should I stick with this for longer? This is a mindfuck in life, because you could be in the chair, for you could be in that chair for two more years before you even have an idea when you run it against actual variance calculations.

Griffin: Yeah.

Nick: And to see for me that that never sat well with me. I need feedback faster so live wasn’t really a good option, once I became aware of how unscientific the method was. Now, here’s what would change is like if somebody came out and said, we have a very scientific method for how to approach live, we’ve already figured the strategy out, here’s what the pools operate like. These are the major imbalances. This is the system we created that maps against that exploitatively. And it’s scientific, because it’s been tested. And there’s data. I’m all for that. I just don’t see that in the industry right now. And that’s what I’ve gravitated toward as a coach, because the only thing that I think, is able to provide efficient training at scale. Based on what we’ve talked about already, that you might never actually have a clear map of how to improve in the live domain. Does that feel unsettling to you? Or are you okay with it? Because there’s some people who are okay with it. And there’s some people who are not.

Griffin: It’s a little unsettling. I mean, I’d like to think that there’s some sort of method that I guess it’s not has to be scientific, but a method that’s proven, right? Like if you know, someone, if I knew someone who’s like been doing that for like, playing the live room, I mean, there’s people out there who play live. And were consistent winners throughout like, you know, years. I mean, that’s reassuring, you know. I mean, I guess it’s not a scientific way to win, but they’re winning.

Nick: Well, no, there is a science, based on the fact that someone has a large sample. Like that, actually, is scientific data proven.

Griffin: Yeah. But I’m saying that you’re the technical strategies probably changing and it’s probably a lot more exploitative, right?

Nick: Or just, or just, it might be really nuanced. At which point, it might be hard for them to convey what parts of their strategy are actually generating win rate. Like the best thing that could happen in the live world, I think, is that a coach comes out with a very consistent methodology, who has very large proven samples at the stake limit that he’s attempting to train and says, this is, this is basically exactly what I do. It’s performed with these results over these many years in these many hours played, with some variance calculations to show that it’s almost impossible that he’s a true loser in the game. I like that. And then the rest of it would be is the course organized and consistent. And does it contradict? If something like that was out, then I would say, yeah, I think that’s a really good approach. I just don’t see it right now. From the tech.

Griffin: Yes. Yeah.

Nick: I don’t see it.

Griffin: Yeah, I’ve shopped around. And I don’t really see anything like that out there, either. Or at least right now.

Nick: So, is that unsettling?

Griffin: Yeah, a little bit. Definitely.

Nick: Because you could make a career from your current talent, like there’s people doing it. I’m assuming if you’ve already been being at games playing full time that like there’s a very strong likelihood that you’re a winner. It’s just a question of is, what is the ceiling of the current method? And the way you started off the conversation really made it sound like you have a lot of doubts that you’re studying the right type of stuff that’s actually going to provide results.

Griffin: Right. That’s exactly how I feel.

Nick: So, it sounds like we sort of have an answer. It’s like things are okay right now. And we probably have edge. But if we look over a three-year trajectory into the future, there’s not a lot of confidence that we know how to direct ourselves to high stakes.

Griffin: Correct. Yes, that’s exactly how I feel.

Nick: Okay. Let’s pin that up on the wall as the major thing that we’re trying to solve. And I don’t think it’s going to take us that long to rehash everything we talked about up until this point and realize that that currently seems like an unsolvable problem. Because we need time to build sample. So, we can prove that certain strategies that are correct, because everybody’s just basically experimenting in live.

Griffin: Yeah.

Nick: Necause we don’t have data to show how the market is playing, then basically, what’s happening in live is, we can only trust people who have very large samples. And then from there, they also need to be able to distill that strategy that they’re playing into a consistent organized methodology for others to follow. That’s a completely separate skill set. I don’t see anybody that has all those skills, and all those boxes ticked in the live room right now, which is why I don’t gravitate towards that realm.

Griffin: That makes sense. So, one of my main concerns, like if I were to ever switch to online, I’m definitely not opposed to. But I think the reason I started out with live is obviously it was much more like easily available. But the other thing is, I’ve heard that it’s much like softer than online. So, I guess I also have a concern that if I even were to play online, I wouldn’t even be beating that format.

Nick: Yeah, I think this is where the conversation, this is where the conversation transitions into immediate results, to what is your long-term goal, or plan, because we have to go back and be fair, like live is softer. So, you don’t need to be as scientific in live. You know, you can generate edge without it. But when we start talking about you looking over a three to five-year period, as someone who is really taking poker seriously and wants to scale in a way that is scientific and secure. We have to start to ask, is the method available in the market that you’re deployed into actually going to provide tools to let you do that? That becomes the bigger question. Now, if I take that back to your insecurities about going and playing live, going and playing online right now, I don’t really care if you get stomped in your first six months playing online. I don’t think that would happen if you had a good methodology. And especially if you’re using good bankroll management, you probably start really low, like at the 50-cent stake. What I’m more concerned with is, are you on a path that actually allows you to get feedback so you can map to high stakes, intentionally, like deliberately? Like, I’m basically just trying to stretch your perspective to a three-year plan instead of where’s the edge I have right now?

Griffin: Right now?

Nick: Yeah, because you’re young dude. Like in five years, you could be pretty much anywhere you want in this industry. If that, if that feels exciting to you to be able to say like, like, in less than five years, like five years is like, dinosaur pace. I think dinosaurs are slow, I guess.

Griffin: Yeah, good.

Nick: But you get what I mean, like,

Griffin: Yeah.

Nick: For me, this is the biggest perspective I can offer you because of how much time you actually have. Like, I didn’t wake up to the type of stuff that I’m telling you until I was like 28. Because I was doing the same thing in the online realm. I was just like navigating without a consistent methodology, not knowing really what information was better, which is why I went the scientific route with scraping pool data and starting to actually map things in a way that showed what was going on. But you’re four years younger than I was when I even began that. So,

Griffin: Right.

Nick: The perspective shift is basically where do I want to be in five years, and let me put myself in an environment that actually has the capacity to streamline my growth, rather than where’s the win rate in the next six months?

Griffin: Because it’s not important.

Nick: On the bigger, on the bigger scale, I see a very low ceiling for live poker unless you’re someone who already has a very, very, very high emotional intelligence and is able to navigate. Like, I just think it’s a very unreliable bet to bet on live poker. Now, some people might say the online pools are going to be dead in five years, but we keep seeing the online market show that it’s more resilient than we thought. Through new apps that pop up, and I just don’t think that fearing that online poker is going to die soon as a reason not to get involved when the amount of money you could potentially make over the next two years even will put you on a trajectory that probably far exceeds your ability to earn that amount in life, not just because live isn’t going to give you a streamlined path for growth, but because you’re not ever going to be able to play the amount of hands necessary to generate that type of win rate, or to generate those type of results.

Griffin: Yeah. Yeah, I hear you. I, it all makes sense.

Nick: So, we don’t have to figure it out today. But this is what’s on the table right now. You, I hope what we’ve done is show you that currently, with the tools available in this market, the live world is not developed enough to be able to provide a consistent and scientific training methodology to the live player on a technical front. I don’t like live towels and mindset, that’s a whole another department. And maybe that’s enough to navigate on, especially since live is softer than online.

Griffin: Right.

Nick: But what I’m saying is if you are someone who’s not going to be satisfied unless you have a streamline path with full vision over what’s going on, and direct feedback, then I don’t think live is a very good bet for you in terms of fulfillment, like I just think you’re going to be pulling your hair out the whole year.

Griffin: Yeah. Yeah, definitely feels like I’ve been doing that for the past year. So, I definitely feel like I’d be a lot more confident with having a more streamlined map. And I guess the higher ceiling is also nice. And the feedback I guess would also be great.

Nick: That’s the biggest part from listening to you, it’s like the fact that this would drive me fucking crazy. The fact that I would never be able to know when it was time to actually make a strategy adjustment, because I can never actually prove that what’s going on is at variance. That kills me as a learner because now I have that’s what I mean, when I say there’s no scientific method for change in life. If you actually understand the scope of variance, which is enormous. And then you actually understand how slow the pace of life is, there is no way for you to create a scientific argument that it’s time to change your strategy in life, no matter how much you’re losing.

Griffin: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. And that’s definitely part of what’s been driving me like kind of crazy. And not just like self-doubt, is that exact phenomenon.

Brad: General final thoughts on Griffin.

Nick: I think he’s a representation of a live player who would benefit from acknowledging that they would be better off having a scientific path for learning, just on the things that he seems to value, the proof that he sees, that he seems to need, I don’t think he’s going to find that in an arena that requires a lot of intuitive self-trust, and doesn’t really ever provide you with long run results. I think there’s another side of this, that’s really important, which is that if you look at the progression of the industry, and you kind of separate it between pre-solver and post solver, BC and AD, I guess and in poker land, what we see is a lot of intuitive players being damaged by the solver release. Because they have felt like they need to sacrifice intuition to go in the direction of what is now acceptable or, or accurate. And not that I think there isn’t a lot to be gained from balancing more science and analytics if you are intuitive, but I think what happened to most intuitive is that they overcorrect it at that phase. They basically like jailed their intuition and said this can’t be valid anymore. I’m never going to get validation for this side of myself. So why, why put it on display? Why even give it a fair shot? And some people were resilient to that. Like there’s definitely a section of players who said no, like my intuition is what I trust gives me my edge and I’m not going to back down on that. That I think is something, is a quality that is either rooted in very, very strong self-trust, or sometimes just blind insistence, stubbornness, even. Maybe always, maybe always a little bit of both.

Brad: Quantifiable self-trust, right? For me, I didn’t value GTL as much as other people because I trusted myself, because I had been successful at that stage in my career for 13 or 14 years, right? I had experienced this success by letting my intuitive sense guide me. And my opinion is that what you said is so true that the intuitive GTO really hurt the intuitive because number one, they stopped using their strength as a poker player to rely on something more analytical, which they’re naturally not going to be as great at. And number two, what GTO did for the analytical types was it gave them a methodology to work their way through decisions that are deeper in the decision tree without having to rely on an intuition that they just didn’t have.

Nick: Yeah, I think what brings them both together to just make the point so clear as to the real value of intuition, I think, is that the intuitive person is rarely as stressed out as the analytic person. Now, if you really just take that simple face value, like somebody who’s extreme on the intuitive spectrum, compared to somebody extreme on the analytical spectrum. The intuitive is going to have a more relaxed nervous system. And if you just focus on that section, and the effects of that, the effects of being less stressed, you’re going to see a ton of psychosomatic cognitive benefits that show up for the trait of being relaxed. And I think, that doesn’t need to prove that intuition is powerful, or accurate or should be trusted. It’s just I think, does a good job of showing how if you were getting by on intuition before the solver era, and then you put a lot of stress and pressure on yourself to incorporate GTO analysis into your game, then maybe the best advice to you and I’ve seen this happen, like over and over again in consults, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told someone, dude, your intuitive, who just needs to relax a little bit and get back to your field player roots, using the overarching understandings you’ve got from doing the sim work. That advice alone, I think, has put more guys back into a place of inward balance, than anything super technical, that I would be able to provide mindset or, or strategy wise.

Brad: Right. It doesn’t have to be just one way or the other, it can be a mixture of both. And I remember, this is kind of funny, but I remember, for the analytical side, when we were in Atlanta, you and Graham, were having a conversation about lifting weights and optimizing form. And it just struck me as so funny that this is like the analytical, right? This is the analytical at work. You want to maximize, you want to know why you’re doing is working so well, why you’re getting stronger. You want to know the why behind all of it, right? So, you can maximize, you can be efficient, and the intuitive will go to the gym and lift weights and realize they’re stronger. Right? They just

Nick: Such a huge point. And I think we have to find the place where those two approaches merge in order to end this conversation on a on a really instructive note. So, like, here’s the biggest downfall of the analyst is that he’ll sit there and use the fact that he doesn’t have perfect information or perfect instruction as an excuse to get started. Meanwhile, the intuitive or what I guess we could say the practitioner will go and he’ll mess around in the gym. And he’ll try a few different movements out that he might have saw on YouTube that day, just to give them some traction. And he’ll say, oh, this one feels good. And he’ll throw in a variation here and there and he’ll get his workout done. And he’ll take a few things that he’ll apply to his next one. And he’s okay making adjustments. Now that guy eventually is going to need some more professional guidance. Once he hits a certain ceiling, he will plateau. But he’ll get started much faster than the analytic guy, the analytical guy who sits there and waits for perfection before he even gets started because that guy is actually trapped. So, both of these, both of these types actually need each other. They actually, they just need each other usually at different stages. The intuitive usually needs more analysis after the point where he hits his intuitive ceiling. The analytical guy needs more intuition to get started on his path.

Brad: Exactly. That is very well said. And a great closing to Griffin.

Thanks for reading this Transcription of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Presents: Detox Files #3: Do You Trust Yourself Enough To Be A Live Pro?

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