NewYearsResolutionsNew Year’s Resolutions are illogical. The use of the calendar as some sort of blackmailing device against your short comings doesn’t work. Those who make positive mindful changes set themselves up to succeed.

Typical New Year fueled poker related goals are misguided and destined to fail. Today, I’m pleading with you to avoid the one that could cause the most harm to your poker progress and to your bankroll; I beg you, please ditch the HANDS PLAYED GOAL you set for 2013.

Overreaching hands played goals

Trying to reach a predetermined number of hands within a set time period can crush your progress.
Intermediate players set these goals too high and force themselves to play longer and more frequent
sessions than they are ready for. Yes, hands played goals can benefit the elite crowd, but only because
they are better equipped psychologically and strategically to play “marathon sessions”. They have an
edge because they play better under the tough conditions marathon sessions bring:

  • They play better when tired
  • They tilt less often
  • Tilt affects their play less
  • They handle swings better
  • They are less results oriented

These attributes are a big part of what makes these players Elite. For everyone else, it’s more important
to fix your “C-game” before pushing the envelope with hands played goals. To be clear, I am not saying
that goals like “reaching supernova elite or “to play 3000 hands a week” are necessarily bad, but it
would be wise to evaluate your game and to see if you are ready to grind it out before committing
to such missions. Otherwise, they will do nothing but magnify your weaknesses and lead you to
disappointment.

What to do instead

Intermediate players need to improve their play. A better understanding of strategy and focus on fixing
leaks should be prioritized. Instead of focusing on maximizing volume of play, they need to set time
aside to work on their games. There is no value on reaching hands played plateaus before becoming a
winning player.

Suggested alternatives

It wouldn’t be very helpful to point out how bad hands played goals can be without offering some better
alternatives. Even though I feel that New Year’s resolutions are pointless, goal setting is important for
improving your game and the vast majority of people figure that January 1 st is the perfect time to set
these goals.

Goal setting tips:

Commit to studying the game: Set a goal of committing to a specific number of hours per week to
reading up on poker strategy, or watching poker training videos

Engage in hand discussions: Set a goal of posting a specific number of key hands you played or
witnessed per week in your favorite poker strategy site’s forums

Journaling: Start a poker journal to log your thoughts, key hands played and notes on opponents you
play regularly. Update your journal daily.

Your turn

Do you agree that “hands played” goals can have negative effects on your game? Did you set any new
poker goals for 2013? Please post your thoughts in the comments.

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Jeff has been playing poker seriously for over 8 years.  Growing up playing sports and other games of skill he always obsessed about the intricate details that determined the winner of any given competition.  To read more about Jeff’s thoughts on poker strategey, visit his blog at www.pokerforvalue.com or his personal blog at www.sjmcintyre.com