End of the intermediate stage; Blue belt in poker

by ~ November 15th, 2009. Filed under: Goals and plans, Philosophy and approach, Poker psychology.

Somewhere waaaay back I wrote about my learning process and the stages that I tend to go through. Like, I’m a fast basic learner and can pick up a basic understanding pretty quickly. This has always stood me in good position during my schooling years.

But if I want to go beyond basics then I get into a stage where I get muddled and the learning flattens out. I start forgetting some basics, or forgetting when to apply them, or misapplying them, or misunderstanding more advanced aspects and confusing how they relate to the previous basics that I had a handle on.

During this period I tend to be a little thick when it comes to improving. There’s a real sense of struggling. The basics need to become natural, like muscle-memory (and includes developing muscle-memory in those situations that have any physical aspect). So many aspects need to become instinctual in order to provide me a firm base to allow me to operate mentally on another level. Prior to having this firm base I can try to operate on another level, but it’s a bit like trying to move a platform where there are multiple supports or legs, but all the legs are not the same length or the same strength. Moving it, or moving on it, can be precarious at times.

image by slopjop

Not quite as precarious as this little fellow/gal since I do know how to walk, but the general idea applies.

The reason for writing about this now is that I’m starting to feel as if the base is finally solidifying, that I can adapt successfully to most situations and levels that I currently face, and below as well for the most part, though there is some adjustments that take a bit of time to get familiar with.


It’s possible that I’ve felt this before in my poker story, and even written about it before, and these points in one’s development will tend to appear now and then. But the current one feels pretty solid, as if I could use this as a jumping off point to move to advanced levels. And of course the term “advanced” is not the same as “professional” or “expert” or “world-class”. Even the term “intermediate” is according to my own definition. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people that long ago would have considered themselves advanced already, but like my reticence to move up in levels I tend to be pretty conservative in my own definition of myself.

When I studied karate I learned that the white and yellow belts were considered beginner, orange and green intermediate, blue and brown advanced, but after advanced there still lies black, and within black there are all kinds of additional levels of black belts. So maybe I consider myself a blue belt in poker now, but that doesn’t mean that I’m ready to take on any black belts of any kind.

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