Previously I gave you some simple, actionable tips to prevent some of the most common and most likely barriers to getting in the Zone. Even if you haven’t found yourself playing in the Zone, I assume that you have felt at least better during and after play, as well as in your day-to-day life.
Today’s tip is not only something that will make the Zone easier to achieve, it is also an incredibly useful framework to approach learning in general, as well as taking the stress out of your education.
One of the hallmarks of the Zone is how effortless and free flowing all your decisions feel. You don’t need to stop and think, for the most part you just “know” what your next move is. This is particularly important when you are multi-tabling and making lots of decisions every minute. Assuming you are familiar with my previous work, by now you will know that multi-tabling is not mindless, and it is possible to make a lot of good informed decisions very quickly.
When you have to make lots of quick, free flowing decisions, complexity really is your enemy. One of the most common learning errors I find in poker players is they try to learn too many things at once. It’s understandable given how much information is available in poker. It’s important to always be learning and broadening your horizons, but there is a time for learning and a time for performance, where you showcase what you have learned.
For this reason, and many others, I advocate that you focus on eliminating your biggest errors, rather than trying to acquire new knowledge. It’s difficult to know what to learn next in poker, but it is highly likely that the biggest improvement in your winrate or ROI would come by getting rid of that stupid error you keep making. This is also likely the part of your game that causes you the most stress.
It may feel like you are taking a step back, but this is a very useful heuristic for learning, because you are always acutely aware of what your biggest leaks are, and it is a much more efficient way to progress. When you constantly chop off your C-game errors, eventually your A-game becomes your B-game, and you develop an entirely new, better A-game.
Freeing up bandwidth
How does this improve your chances of getting in the Zone? First of all, the less you think about unimportant things, the better. You have limited bandwidth and energy when you play poker, you need it all for the Zone, so you don’t want to be thinking about learning. Likewise, it is mentally very taxing to hold all these new ideas you are only beginning to conceptualize in your head. When you are simply working on preventing your biggest leaks, all you have to do is make an effort to remember not to do them (I also suggest you keep a piece of paper handy with a reminder not to make these errors, with technical suggestions how to play instead). If you are falling out of the Zone, it is much easier to steady the ship when you have simple reminders of what not to do, then trying to apply 10 pages of notes on a complex poker concepts.
Not only will this tip make the path to the Zone much clearer, it is also a useful way to learn and is particularly helpful when you are playing in high pressure situations like a tough final table. I go into much more depth about this concept, and the Zone in general, in my book The Mental Game of Poker 2. Like the last tip, I suggest you simply try this out for a few days and I believe you will see that, even if you don’t get in the Zone, your sessions become much less stressful.
Stay tuned as I will be delivering some more free tips for getting in the Zone more consistently. Join my mailing list below to be the first to see them.