The No-Mistake Session

F Paulsson

F Paulsson

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The premise is simple. No one wants to make mistakes playing poker, and everyone does. So, for one session, I want you to try to make it through without making a single mistake. You can make the session as long or short as you like, but bragging about playing four mistake-less hands is obviously not going to be very impressive. Or, for that matter, useful.

Defining "mistake" is the tricky part, here. Obviously we all make mistakes all the time, according to Sklansky's definition. No, I'm talking about a situation where we know better. It can be anything from making a call that we immediately regret to a misclick. Or from knowing that we should be raising in this spot but chicken out to raising someone out of spite. Or misreading a stack. Or any of a dozen different mistakes we're all liable to make.

And here comes the useful part: For every mistake that you make, mark that hand immediately in HEM or PT (or however you want). Once you've made five mistakes, you're out. This session is over. Then take the five mistake-hands, convert them, and post a thread called "My Mistakes Thread" where you paste them and explain in detail what your exact mistakes were. The usefulness of this is trivial to understand: You don't learn from mistakes unless you notice them and take them to heart. "Oh, I should have raised" is not enough. That fleeting thought is out of your head and forgotten long before the next hand is even dealt. Own up to your mistakes, record them, analyze them, and you're much less likely to make them again.

You man (or woman) enough to own up to your mistakes? We'll see.
 
Stu_Ungar

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Do you recommend the use of LSD to achieve this, e.g. Dock Ellis's 1970 No-Hitter
 
Pyrodc

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I do not recommend the use of LSD while playing poker ;p
 
F Paulsson

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Do you recommend the use of LSD to achieve this, e.g. Dock Ellis's 1970 No-Hitter
I'm going to go with "yes." Why not. If nothing else, the intermittent descriptions of rainbows and clowns playing Bach in the threads posted should make things amusing.
 
Stu_Ungar

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I'm going to go with "yes." Why not. If nothing else, the intermittent descriptions of rainbows and clowns playing Bach in the threads posted should make things amusing.

LOL

Good answer.

I do like the jist of this thread. The 5 strikes and you are out mentality moves us away from results based thinking as out goal naturally becomes to play longer and longer sessions.

It also builds in a natural "study point" because once you make 5 mistakes the next logical step is to study the hands and figure out where it all went wrong.

One problem springs to mind, how do we spot a mistake? Getting it all in with KK and losing to AA would not be considered a mistake.

Is it more a case of 5 hands with more than 10% of your stack in play where you were not 100% certain you were correct, regardless of the outcome.
 
Seabrooknutzz

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Okay, last night in the 8pm FTP 33k, went brain dead for 1 hand after playing perfect for 3 hours.

In the cutoff with 3 limpers and I shove with 10`s and run into AA.....sweet!

Why did I shove there? I`m almost in the money and kaboom....5 spots away!
 
Elie_Yammine

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You shoved because u're tired and u didn't want to play this good/headache hand and lose...u preferred to just make one decision and win all...or lose all :p
 
U

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I'm a cash game player, so I don't know much about tournaments, but it seems like if its the later stages of the tourny and you're relatively short shoving with TT when there are a couple of limpers your probably fine since most of the money is dead and they probably have a weak range of hands there.
If you were deep(ish) but someone had you covered then I don't know what you were doing, but then again I dont play tournys.
 
F Paulsson

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LOL

Good answer.

I do like the jist of this thread. The 5 strikes and you are out mentality moves us away from results based thinking as out goal naturally becomes to play longer and longer sessions.

It also builds in a natural "study point" because once you make 5 mistakes the next logical step is to study the hands and figure out where it all went wrong.

One problem springs to mind, how do we spot a mistake? Getting it all in with KK and losing to AA would not be considered a mistake.

Is it more a case of 5 hands with more than 10% of your stack in play where you were not 100% certain you were correct, regardless of the outcome.
Spotting them is super-hard, and it's (obviously) only detectable after-the-fact. To give an example of a mistake, though: Today, it was folded to me in the small blind. I had A3o. There was a reg in the BB. I folded.

The reason why was because I had two "There is a seat open for you at table..." pop up on me just when it happened, and I had decisions on two other tables as well. In the stress of the moment, I went on auto-pilot and folded ace-rag offsuit, because it's not a default open in all positions (I'd never have mistakenly folded AA). It's not a huge mistake, but it does tell me something about what happens when my attention is too divided.

Yesterday, I called a preflop 3-bet with 88 (or 99 or TT, not entirely sure) in position. The flop came overcard-rag-rag, where I think the overcard was a jack. I called a bet on the flop. Then I called a bet on the rag turn. Then I realized I was committed and had to call his river shove.

It's not clear whether or not I should have folded at any point, but it WAS clear that I realized way too late that my river decision was made already when I called the turn. This is also a mistake, regardless of whether or not I took the correct line; I missed something.
 
U

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I was thinking the same kind of thing (meaning whats the definition of a mistake, not 5 mistakes and your out)

Recognizing on the turn that you screwed up on the flop.

I find myself (when I'm playing too many tables, or listening to TV/podcast, or or trying to do something not poker while playing poker, or being stupid) doing something on the flop or turn thinking that the hand is now going to be over and then they guy flats or raises and I'm now in a spot where my attention is not focused, the action is unclear in my head and now I have to make a decision when I didn't have any kind of plan for it.

I like this concept and think I'll try it multiple times. Its like a diagnostic of your game- I often see a little thing I did and say "damnit why do I always do that, oh well next hand". This will force me to address that garbage now and look at the situation and change it- something I should do anyway.
 
F Paulsson

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Okay, last night in the 8pm FTP 33k, went brain dead for 1 hand after playing perfect for 3 hours.

In the cutoff with 3 limpers and I shove with 10`s and run into AA.....sweet!

Why did I shove there? I`m almost in the money and kaboom....5 spots away!

A little depending on the stacks involved, shoving there can be totally standard and awesome. But! BUT! This does not mean that you didn't make a mistake. If you don't know why you shoved, then clearly you slipped somehow. Even if it was the right play. What happened that made you shove without thinking? Were you tired? Distracted? Bored? Misread your stack? Etc. Something went wrong, even if the play was the ideal one. It doesn't matter. This is actually a good example of a tricky kind of mistake, because way too often we're results-oriented (but in a weird way) about our mistakes. Like how I might open 86s in middle position (which is not a part of my range there except for special circumstances) because I'm not paying attention and think I'm in the cutoff or on the button, or just am not thinking at all and just think it's a pretty hand and open. And then, as it turns out, there's a huge fish in the BB. I'll pat myself on the back and think "well, that's an alright play then."

Yeah, it was. But no, that doesn't make it alright. I'm being results-oriented in a different way from what we usually mean by it, but I'm being results-oriented nonetheless.
 
F Paulsson

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I like this concept and think I'll try it multiple times.
There's definitely nothing stopping anyone from doing this as often as they like. It's a great tool for improving the parts of our game that we so often forget to improve. These hands won't make it to the HA forum (you don't need everyone else telling you to fold A4o preflop instead of calling a shove with it because you thought you had AA), but that doesn't mean that these mistakes are unimportant. This is similar, but not quite the same, as Tommy Angelo's categories of A- B- and C-games. We can momentarily lapse and have a C-game moment smack in the middle of our A-games; idenfitying the circumstances that make that happen can be worth quite a lot.
 
Worak

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There's definitely nothing stopping anyone from doing this as often as they like. It's a great tool for improving the parts of our game that we so often forget to improve. These hands won't make it to the HA forum (you don't need everyone else telling you to fold A4o preflop instead of calling a shove with it because you thought you had AA), but that doesn't mean that these mistakes are unimportant. This is similar, but not quite the same, as Tommy Angelo's categories of A- B- and C-games. We can momentarily lapse and have a C-game moment smack in the middle of our A-games; idenfitying the circumstances that make that happen can be worth quite a lot.

I underlined the most important line for me here.

Apart from variance I do have some success in MTTs and STTs (just playing cash the second month now) - especially when I'm focused and in my A-game.

But I do realize that the "C" or even "Z"-game moments happen - often it's the key hand, too.

I hope by doing this I will spot that moment before going down the dead end - and throw away hours of good playing.
 
NineLions

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What about as a review tally?

If you recognize the mistakes right after they happen, you're using this as a means of enforcing shutdown before dropping off your A game? Or proving that you were only playing your C game from the beginning of your session?

I don't know how good I am at picking up my mistakes as I go. It's easier when I single table tournaments than when I 6 table cash tables.


But, I'm thinking that I should do this as a review tally and categorization process. It makes me think of when I was studying for the GMAT exam with practice exams. I'd do one section of the test as per time restriction, mark the results.

But the really useful part was afterward, 'cause I could see that there were different categories of mistakes that I as making. 1a) careless calculation or answering mistakes, 1b) careless question reading mistakes, 2) time-restriction caused mistakes or non-answers, and 3) not being able to figure out the answer in a reasonable amount of time mistakes. By working on eliminating 1a) and 1b) mistakes and by practicing taking tests I got rid of most of 1) and 2) versions of mistakes and scored in the 99th percentile.


I think in poker I make all kinds of 1) careless mistakes that I can eliminate, and probably some 2) time caused mistakes that I should be able to somehow generate more time for. There's probably categories for tilt induced mistakes or player read mistakes too.

One of the problems is the category 3) not knowing mistakes, which I might not even recognize as a mistake. I guess the thing to do with those is analyze or to ask someone else if there's a sense that maybe a mistake has been made.

But even if I can review sessions and categorize the mistakes that I do recognize and work on eliminating those, that's a big step.


Thanks for the food for thought, Fredrik.
 
F Paulsson

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It's the #1 and #2 kind I'm after. The #3 mistakes are of an elusive kind, and they're caught either by being uncertain about how to play something or by someone else sweating you/reviewing your session. They require a lot of work in identifying compared to #1 and #2.

As a sidenote, #2 mistakes should be extremely rare. They happen - to me, too, as seen above - but if they happen more than once per session, you should seriously consider reducing the number of tables you play. I've said this before, again and again, but when you're looking at a long-term win-rate that's measured in a couple of big blinds/100 hands, you can't really afford to make time-related mistakes.

On a second sidenote, I was going to check how much the mistake of not opening that ace-rag cost me (i.e. look at my last 100k hands and see what my average profit was opening ace-rag offsuit in the small blind was. Turns out I'm losing money (more than the cost of the small blind, that is) with A2o-A4o. I even extended the filter to include all of 2009, too. Good to know - I'll remove them from my default opening range from now on. That, however, doesn't mean I didn't make a mistake!
 
dj11

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I Might do this, but I can't afford 5 strikes, or won't recognize 5 strikes till long after. So I'm thinking that if I give myself 3 strikes (maybe even 2), when I go back to analyze I'll probably find the additional strikes.
 
NineLions

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As a sidenote, #2 mistakes should be extremely rare. They happen - to me, too, as seen above - but if they happen more than once per session, you should seriously consider reducing the number of tables you play. I've said this before, again and again, but when you're looking at a long-term win-rate that's measured in a couple of big blinds/100 hands, you can't really afford to make time-related mistakes.

And I know that in my case the time-induced mistakes are not caused by actually running out of time, but by things such as feeling that I have to make a decision without slowing down too much so I don't give the impression that it's a more difficult decision for me, or by being impatient to get back to another table that's more interesting, or something like that. It's never a matter of actually running out of time at the table, for me.


But I think that you've inspired me to pull up a range of sessions, flag the not only the mistakes but also the questionable or difficult plays that I can see (without worrying too much about the ones that I can't identify) and then categorize and count them. It should help me to identify not only the frequency of certain mistakes but also the frequency of different types of uncertainties or difficulties that I have. I suspect that some occur more frequently than I expect, and others more frequently.
 
StormRaven

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Love this!!! Great idea - great way to get people to own up and take responsibility and force people to think more and asses! Loving this idea!!!
 
No Brainer

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Love this!!! Great idea - great way to get people to own up and take responsibility and force people to think more and asses! Loving this idea!!!

Think you may mean assess?

Brilliant idea this. I will be trying it out in the weekend as I think it will be a mistake just playing atm as I am super tired!
 
F Paulsson

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Quick tip: If you want to look for mistakes after the fact, you can replay a session in HEM. Before every decision point, say to yourself (or out loud, for that matter) what your decision will be. Whenever you have a difference between what you think you should have done and what you did, you at least have the possibility for a mistake.
 
fletchdad

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8:30 PM, after a long day recording in the studio, which leaves me pretty exhausted. Wife and daughter in bed, Ive had dinner, and in 15 minutes a regular MTT I like is starting, so I register, even though I am tired and know it. By hand 3 I see that the dinner is heavy in my belly and I am having a hard time fighting drowsiness, - hmmm, am I really surprised? - plus for the first 2 levels I am card dead, so no adrenaline to help. So I know I have to concentrate, and respect the fact that I am tired so as to try to not let it influence my decision making. 180 starter, I make it to the last 2 tables - it was the fastest I remember any tourney, as a side note, final 2 tables in about 50 minutes!! - , and am fighting nodding off. Blinds 100/200, I am CO with ATos, and a stack of around 2000, and I call. SB, a good tight player, also SS, about 2800, goes all in, and I call.
I spot 3 mistakes in my story. Although mistake 3 was a direct result of mistake 2 and my not be a mistake in and of itself, I dont know.....

Thank you FP, as I am doing a lot to improve my game. Reading your post, and your 5 mistake "challenge" gives me a new avenue to improve my game and spot my leaks, which is my main focus ATM.

As always, your posts are appreciated, as well as helpful.

edit: Actually, mistake 2 and 3 are a DIRECT result from mistake 1, lol as I just realized. I am sure the mistakes are obvious....
 
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fletchdad

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Quick tip: If you want to look for mistakes after the fact, you can replay a session in HEM. Before every decision point, say to yourself (or out loud, for that matter) what your decision will be. Whenever you have a difference between what you think you should have done and what you did, you at least have the possibility for a mistake.

I dont have any software yet, and am planning a new setup, which may or may not include a MAC, and only PT3 works on MAC. Can you do this with PT3 as well?
 
No Brainer

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I dont have any software yet, and am planning a new setup, which may or may not include a MAC, and only PT3 works on MAC. Can you do this with PT3 as well?

You sure can. I think you could even do it without any software but it may be a bit of a chore. As long as you are saving your hand histories you can go through and review them one at a time.

Having HEM or PT3 just puts this information into an easy to read (and review) format.
 
fletchdad

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You sure can. I think you could even do it without any software but it may be a bit of a chore. As long as you are saving your hand histories you can go through and review them one at a time.

Having HEM or PT3 just puts this information into an easy to read (and review) format.

Thanks for the answer. I review my HH from the folder, but it can be tedious, and would be nice to have a short cut. In FPs post he says replay your hands, it sounded like you could import your game and have the hands replay. Forgive me if I am being naive, as I have never had any kind of software, and have NO idea how it works in the finer points. I was imagining something like a Full Tilt last hand viewer (as I said, I have no idea:), but even having an easier to read HH would be nice.
 
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