Atomic.Inchworm escapes the micros

  • Atomic.Inchworm escapes the micros

     Atomic.Inchworm updated 6 months, 1 week ago 3 Members · 12 Posts
  • Atomic.Inchworm

    Member
    May 17, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    Hi, I’m a 45-year old from Germany. I’ve been playing poker recreationally for about 10 years, with decent success in SNGs and MTT satellites (cashing out the $T money), flat-lining in MTTs and bleeding off most of my bankroll in NLHE cash and bounty hunter MTTs. I’ve always dreamed of making money player poker instead of losing it but, truth be told, I never really put in the work.

    All of that changed when I discovered my love and passion for PLO cash game early this year. This coincided with me having blown my roll once again. I swore to myself that I wasn’t going to deposit ever again but instead grind my way back up starting at 2PLO cash. Which I managed, relatively speaking, being a marginal winner over a 140,000 hand sample.

    Lessons I have learnt along the way:
    1. You can grind your way up from 2 PLO – but it will take forever due to gruesomely high rake.
    2. You can learn by trial & error or watching random videos – but without a structured learning path you won’t get very far, very fast.
    3. There is no such thing as free poker success – if you’re serious about becoming better you need to invest in your poker education and put in THE WORK.

    This is what brought me to PLO Mastermind and to depositing once again (my biggest single deposit ever and the maximum amount I feel comfortable with), this time with a plan and stern determination. Hopefully, this really will be my last deposit and I will never look back.

    My starting bankroll: $1,009 (+ T$90)
    My starting stake: 10 PLO cash

    My vision:
    Statistically only five out of a hundred players manage to escape the micros. I aspire to be one of those five. In a wild dream of mine I take my first properly rolled shot at 50 PLO by the end of this year and am confidently playing and consistently winning (5bb/100 hands) at that stake by spring 2022. In an even wilder dream, I take my first shot at 100 PLO by mid 2022, making it my regular game by the end of 2022 as a decent winner (3bb/100 hands) with room for improvement. This all serves a larger non-poker related purpose that I feel would be too early to disclose here. Suffice to say that I know what I’m doing it for.

    How?
    I will be steadily improving my poker game through committed and systematic work on all relevant skill sets, using the “atomic inchworm process”. Never heard of it before? It’s my own word creation but really strongly inspired by James Clear and Jared Tendler.

    James Clear in his excellent “Atomic habits” argues that the key to sustainable habit change is in making tiny changes that, over time, compound into large transformations. You basically sneak in a habit that is so small, so atomic, that even the most change-averse brain can’t be bothered to object. And once the new habit sticks, and only then, do you sneak in another one. And another. And another. And before you know it you’re a totally different, e.g. much better poker player.

    This behavioural change approach is perfectly complemented by the inchworm learning concept as popularized by Jared Tendler in his classic “The Mental Game of Poker Vol. I”. In other nutshell, you learn/move fastest if you do it like the inchworm, by bringing your back-end (C-game) forward first, before stretching your front-end (A-game) ahead again. Put more bluntly, if you keep learning new stuff without plugging your leaks, you’ll end up stretched out flat on your face, not moving an inch.

    This is what an inchworm in action looks like. Smart fella, ey?

    My current “backend”:
    Andreas Fröhli in his “Escaping the micros” guest lecture introduces 10 skills required for poker success. I tweaked them a bit, merging some categories into one while adding others that I felt were missing, and ended up with 8. I also did a deep-dive into sub-categories but more about that some other time. In any case, after painful self-introspection I ranked them from my current weakest to my current strongest with my weakest being “Strategy & study” with a big emphasis on study (see attached photos).

    I have read a number of books on poker, PLO and the mental game. I’ve also watched every free Youtube video that appeared to offer some expert advice, mostly by Jnandez and Luuk. There is however a problem with that approach: You pick bits and pieces here and there, but it’s not targeted at your skill level or your stake or even your site (population tendencies) and it’s hard to put it together to a coherent whole. So, being a good aspiring atomic inchworm I decided to start bringing my back-end forward by sneaking in the first habit.

    Sneaky habit 1: Structured learning routine (Study to play ratio: 1:5 hours roughly)

    Process milestones:
    – [ ] Complete watching “Escape the micros” (I’m currently at 12/20)
    – [ ] Systematic game-tree study starting with:
    – [ ] Pre-flop RFI (EP-BB) using PLO trainer
    – [ ] Corresponding “Crushing the Small Stakes” videos.

    Accountability:
    – [ ] Update accountability sheet regularly
    – [ ] Publish progress log in blog once a week

    Game plan:
    – [ ] Stake: 10 PLO cash
    – [ ] Site: GG Poker (for rakeback and deposit bonus)
    – [ ] Tables: 1-2 Rush & Cash tables (for leaderboard winnings and to avoid straddle in reg games)
    – [ ] Specialization: 100bb stack (off-loading after going deep and buying back in for 100bb)
    – [ ] Volume: app. 2,000 hands per day, five days a week = 10,000 hands per week
    – [ ] Stop-loss: 5 BIs per day

  • Atomic.Inchworm

    Member
    May 24, 2021 at 9:37 pm

    Update: Week #1

    Let’s start with the good news: I reached my process milestones:
    – [x] Complete watching “Escape the micros” (20/20)
    – [x] Systematic game-tree study, starting with RFI UTG using PLO trainer
    – [x] Watching corresponding CSS video(s)
    – [x] Volume goal: 10,000 hands p.w.
    – [x] Study-to-play ratio: appr. 1:5

    Process:
    I studied RFI UTG in much detail this week and even though I already played petty tight before using the PLO trainer I apparently didn’t play tight enough, at least by GTO solver standards. My biggest learning was the very marginal value of single-suited no-gap runddowns in a high-rake environment, I ditched all but the top range. I also got rid of some double pairs that I would previously have raised and, last but not least, cleaned up my double-suited KK and QQ some more, folding very low EV opens.

    Moreover, I realized it’s not enough to have a rough study plan like the game-tree. If I don’t break down the study part into digestable bites and sprinkle in some volume goals (as a reward), I tend to get overwhelmened and might tiptoe around studying, playing as procrastination. So I prematurely introduced another sneaky habit (as #1 won’t work without #2):

    Sneaky habit #2: Daily study & volume plan

    I will draw one up every day I play more than a few hands. I also included excercise, not as an additional new habit, but because I’ve successfully established one a while back and thought it would give my new habits a boost if I could check one off already most of the time.

    Finally, I figured that I needed a smarter approach to realizing my rakeback. I noticed somewhat too late that my volume goal probably wouldn’t suffice to fulfill my current “fish buffet” requirement. I mean, who wants to stay a “bronze crab”? So I calculated how many hands/hours I would have to play in order to have a realistic chance of making it up the fish food chain and upped my volume accordingly.

    Finally I realized that my somewhat rigid stop-loss of 5 BIs easily gets in the way of my volume goals. Even though it’s a great tilt control tool (especially when automated), 10 BIs per day is probably better suited for 2-tabling Rush & Cash (unfortunately, there is no stop-loss per session option). So I adjusted that, too.

    Results:
    As far as results are concerned I’m obviously not too happy, losing before and even after rakeback. Then again, it’s only been about 16,000 hands so far and I’ve been running on the bad side of variance quite a bit. Unfortunately, bad luck tended to hit me hardest in multiway 3-bet and 4-bet all-in pots (not shown in graph), amplifying its impact. I distinctly remember losing a 270bb pot as a 91% favourite (I had declined insurance, of course…) and a number of similar spots, but the 91% one was the most crushing. At least I got my fair share of GG care entries, one of them translating in a $21 BR boost. Doesn’t quite compensate for the suck-outs but gotta look on the bright side…

    More importantly, though, I also did make a number of bigger mistakes I’m aware of (and probably even more that I’m unaware of) and also still feel unsure in a lot of situations post-flop. For a brief moment I was tempted to jump into the post-flop section of the game-tree to double-check, but I concluded that good post-flop play always starts with good pre-flop play. So I decided to work my way through the game-tree in chronological order after all. This way I should improve in cumulative increments which will hopefully, eventually, translate into better results, too.

    Process milestones for the following week:

    – [ ] Continue systematic game-tree study with RFI MP (plus review EP) using PLO trainer
    – [ ] Watch corresponding CSS video(s)
    – [ ] Volume goal: appr 2,500 hands per day, 5 days a week = appr 12,500
    – [ ] Study goal ratio: appr 1:5
    – [ ] Become a silver crab 🦀🤓

    • AcesfullX

      Member
      June 1, 2021 at 7:50 pm

      good luck inchworm. can you send a link to the “Escape the micros” – I did a youtube search, but couldnt seem to find it. Thanks, Steve – either include in your next post, or can email me directly at [email protected] – thanks again

      • Atomic.Inchworm

        Member
        June 2, 2021 at 7:20 am

        Hi AcesfullX, happy to help. You will find the entire course here:

        https://plomastermind.com/courses/escape-the-micros/

        I found it to be a good structured introduction, though it only scratches the surface, of course. I’m now watching Crushing Small Stakes PLO, because population tendencies are somewhat similar to micros and it goes more into depth.

        Good luck to you, too!

  • Atomic.Inchworm

    Member
    May 31, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    Update: Week #2

    Let’s get the bad news out of the way. I had a horrible start into the week, hitting my newly set automated stop-loss of 10 BIs in a rather short session. It was as if the plug had been pulled from my bankroll tub. The money didn’t leak out, it gushed out. It was freakish. I lost virtually all all-ins, especially those with AA. I vividly recall one where I hit the board rather well with 44J4 and a NFD, only to run into JJ. Another time I clashed with another pair of AA and was drawing dead on the flop. The other guy’s side-cards had made a FH and there was, of course, no A to draw to.

    But I don’t want to make this blog a bad beat dump. This is all just to illustrate how I kind of got derailed a bit this week, especially when I lost another 5 BIs the very next morning. I even had to drop down to 5 PLO at some point and truth be told I didn’t do it at the designated $800 mark but only at $789. I had been in denial until then.

    Fortunately, eventually I recovered from the shock, decided to call it a day as far as volume was concerned and put in an emergency mental game study session. The mental game course didn’t do it for me, really. But I stumbled over a good read that I hadn’t heard of before: “The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win ”, by Maria Konnikova.

    It’s a well-written exploration “of the ineffable balance between skill and chance that governs life and poker.” And I found some solace in it. One of the sentences that really stuck with me was this one:

    “The benefit of failure is an objectivity that success simply can’t offer.”

    And it’s true, I took the opportunity to take a very close look at my game. I think I have a relatively good fundamental take on the game, considering that I only play at the micros, but I certainly still make a lot of mistakes that are avoidable. I also noticed that I’m still not always spot-on with my RFI EP. I don’t have a Microsoft computer so I can’t use the PLO training quizzes.

    I study the RFI manually, looking up hands that I felt unsure about and trying to dissect the pattern behind the raise or fold, looking at neighbouring hands and taking notes on the entire group and its bottom range. It’s very time consuming but very worthwhile because it’s not just learnt by heart but understood on a more fundamental level. So I’m going to keep doing it that way. I also decided that my RFI study for each position will take as long as it takes. Originally I had hoped for one week per position but it’s going to be closer to two. I’m only now ready to start with MP.

    Another lesson I learned: An automated stop-loss is great. It keeps you from doing things you might later regret. But 10 BIs is more than I can handle emotionally, I realize now. I’m going to reduce it to 7 BIs. And if that interferes with my volume goals, well, then it does. Anyway, someone wise once said:

    “Play a lot when you play well and run well, and study a lot when you are running bad and playing bad” (Tri Slowhabit Nguyen).

    And I would add: Get a lot of fresh air, exercise and spend quality time with your partner and friends if you run bad and play bad. It worked wonders for me, at least. I feel restored emotionally now, I even won a few stacks today and all suddenly seems normal again. Except that my new normal entails a rather significantly reduced bankroll.

    There is another piece of good news, though: I have been promoted to “silver crab”. Well, I paid a steep price for it in rake. 🙂 Not worth it. I’m going to ditch my volume goals for a bit, losing out on rakeback for the benefit of a more relaxed approach. After all, I’m not missing out on big bucks by grinding a bit less, so I might just give myself a break and find a better mix of studying and playing for fun.

    Report on process milestones from last week:
    – [x] Continue systematic game-tree study with RFI MP (plus review EP) using PLO trainer
    – [x] Watch corresponding CSS video(s)
    – [ ] Volume goal: appr 2,500 hands per day, 5 days a week = appr 12,500
    – [ ] Study goal ratio: appr 1:5
    – [x] Become a silver crab

    Process milestones for next week:
    – [ ] Continue systematic game-tree study with RFI MP using PLO trainer
    – [ ] Watch corresponding CSS video(s)
    – [ ] Play for fun, not for rakeback

  • Cayla2016

    Member
    June 2, 2021 at 8:03 am

    Nice blog Atomic.Inchworm, I’ll be following. Those swings and badruns just make part of PLO. I read you threath them quite well currently. Just keep following your path.

    Have u ever considered recording a session and analyse it afterward with all the tools? I definitely recommend it 😉

    • Atomic.Inchworm

      Member
      June 2, 2021 at 8:37 am

      Thank you, Cayla, I’m happy to hear you enjoy the blog. And yes, I feel I’ve managed to climb on top of my mental game again. Took a bit of an effort and time but it worked. I have actually thought of recording a session but haven’t done it yet. I will certainly try that soon.

  • Atomic.Inchworm

    Member
    June 7, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    Update: Week #3

    I’ll keep it short this week. I was thrilled to discover that the PLO trainer web version now also includes the training mode. I made some really good progress inching my way along the game tree, having finished studying EP, having made significant progress on MP and having started working on the CO. It’s so much faster than looking it up manually. However, I’m glad I started the hard way. This way I laid some very solid theoretical groundwork for EP from which I can now deduct the other positions much faster.

    As for my results, unfortunately, they don’t reflect my study progress. I’m still running bad. My variance traffic light at GG has been stuck at “bad luck” for four weeks straight. Well. Nowhere near escaping the micros. Rather digging myself in.

    I also played a bit less this week, giving priority to spending quality time with my partner, enjoying the great weather. Summer has finally arrived. Don’t want to miss it. It has done me some good emotionally and helps me endure the bad run somewhat more gracefully.

    This having been said, it’s of course not all bad luck either. I still catch myself making mistakes. And in a lot of post-flop situations I’m still often unsure. I’ll get there eventually in the game-tree. Until then it won’t hurt if I play less, on the contrary. It’ll save me some precious buy-ins.

    Report on process milestones:
    – [x] Continue systematic game-tree study with RFI MP using PLO trainer
    – [x] Watch corresponding CSS video(s)
    – [x] Study goal ratio: appr 1:5
    – [x] Play for fun, not for rakeback

    Process milestones for next week:
    – [ ] Continue systematic game-tree study with RFI MP (finish) and CO using PLO trainer
    – [ ] Watch corresponding CSS video(s)
    – [ ] Play for fun, not for rakeback

  • Atomic.Inchworm

    Member
    June 14, 2021 at 10:29 pm

    Update: Week #4

    Another rough week. My GG variance badge seems to be stuck at “bad luck”. Maybe I should write to support. It’s been like this for weeks. I also was a bit stressed out for private reasons which didn’t help the quality of my play. And finally I realized that, given my under-whelming pre-rakeback results, I really needed that fish buffet spin, started multi-tabling to get there, and still didn’t in time. Bummer. Last but not least, I studied way too little. My accountability sheet is all over the place.

    As a result I’m still moping around the $750 mark, and if it wasn’t for GG care, the daily leaderboard pay-outs and the deposit bonus the situation would look even more dire. I did, however, make some progress. I managed to plug a few leaks, namely calling slightly too wide with backdoor potential. It’s certainly something to be said for in 3bet/4-bet pots, but in single-raised pots micro stakes players tend to use a rather over-protective bet-sizing, ruining the odds. I really have the best results playing ultra-tight, playing my strong hands and draws aggressively, except with aggro players, throwing in the odd blocker bluff against fit-fold type of opponents and otherwise folding marginals. It’s not a very imaginative, let alone sophisticated style, but my other attempts were futile so far, due to lack of post-flop excellence. so I think I might stick with the nitty approach for the time being, helping my bankroll to recover.

    I also figured that my daily study plan has suffered do to the lack of a more qualitative approach. One hour of study is not always an easy bullet to check off, especially when I’m stressed out and don’t feel like studying. So I’m going to try an even more atomic approach, I’m going to offer myself low-pain options, like training 50 hands CO RFI, or watching one of Shuller’s great “Play & Explains”. The latter are for high stakes and I do take his advise with a pinch of salt, but I learn a lot from his thought process, especially for post-flop. His explanations help with the heuristics of some situations, though not all of it can or should be applied at the micros.

    There is good news, too. My exercise routine is pretty good, not rock-solid, but considered that I’ve only just installed it about two months ago, I’m pretty happy with my consistency. Also, I’m updating this blog regularly, though not necessary with news I like.

    Process milestones for last week:
    – [x] Continue systematic game-tree study with RFI MP using PLO trainer
    – [x] Watch corresponding CSS video(s)
    – [x] Play for fun, not for rakeback

    Process milestones for next week:
    – [ ] Train 50 hands CO RFI with PLO trainer, repeat
    – [ ]
    – [ ]
    – [ ]
    – [ ] Watch an episode of Shuller’s “Play and explain”, repeat
    – [ ]
    – [ ]
    – [ ]
    – [ ] Optional: in-depth study of 3-bet/4-bet flop strategies for different SPRs.

  • Atomic.Inchworm

    Member
    June 21, 2021 at 9:41 pm

    Update: Week #5

    I was going to say that this week was a good week results-wise, but that was only true for three days (when I wasn’t playing). Before that, for the first time in four weeks, my graph had finally started pointing in the right direction and I was running better, but it didn’t last long. Today I lost a big chunk of it back and all feels back to normal.

    I’m still somewhat pleased, however. I made some study progress, though not as much as I had planned. And I incorporated some more blocker bluffs with some success. Today the NFD blocker bluff went wrong twice, unfortunately. One opponent called two huge barrels with a ten-high flush, another one holding a mere straight calling a huge check-raise. What can you do, except take a note and make sure next time you really do have it?

    All in all, things could be better. And they could be worse. This coming week I should be getting a spin at the fish buffet to give my bankroll a little boost. I’m starting to be grateful for the little things. In the meantime I’m going to keep working on my game while also making sure to enjoy the sun. It’s so nice outside at the moment.

    Process milestones report:
    – [x] Train 50 hands CO RFI with PLO trainer, and repeat
    – [x] CO
    – [x] EP
    – [x] EP
    – [ ] Watch an episode of Shuller’s “Play and explain”, and repeat
    – [x]
    – [x]
    – [x]
    – [ ] Optional: in-depth study of 3-bet/4-bet flop strategies for different SPRs.

    Progress milestones for next week:
    – [ ] Same as above.

  • Atomic.Inchworm

    Member
    June 29, 2021 at 7:17 pm

    Update: Week #6

    I’ll keep it very short this week: I didn’t play much, I didn’t study much. The weather was too nice and I didn’t have much time. Internet issues didn’t make it more fun either. I did, however, run better. Sticking to my ultra-tight boring style I managed to break through the $800 mark again, finally.

    I do enjoy Shuller’s Play & Explain videos a lot, though, more than the PLO trainer at the moment. It’s pure laziness, really. I know I should study more and end up playing or watching videos instead. It’s not the road to success. But maybe it’s okay for now. Summer is just too alluring. I’ll be gentle with myself.

    Process milestone report:
    – [x] Train 50 hands CO RFI with PLO trainer, and repeat
    – [x] CO
    – [x] CO
    – [x] CO
    – [ ] Watch an episode of Shuller’s “Play and explain”, and repeat
    – [x]
    – [x]
    – [ ]
    – [ ] Optional: in-depth study of 3-bet/4-bet flop strategies for different SPRs.
    – [ ]

    Progress milestones for next week:
    – [ ] Same as above.

  • Atomic.Inchworm

    Member
    July 14, 2021 at 7:19 am

    Alright, this is it. I’ve been trying very hard, not getting anywhere, though. I’ve been running bad for three months straight now, slowly bleeding money, and now on top of it German regulation will add a hefty 5.8 percent of tax, on top of the already hefty rake. This might work for comfortably winning players, but not for me. I’m still just about making a marginal profit when I’m running okay but this has not been the case for a while.

    I have already stopped the PLO Mastermind subscription, even though I like the content a lot. But it’s not a monthly fee I want to put on the table without poker winnings to fund them. I will discontinue this blog once the subscription expires.

    In the meantime I will make one more attempt. I have transitioned to 5-card PLO and reg tables because the game is softer there. Maybe I stand a chance. If not, good luck to you all! 🙂

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