Friday, December 04, 2009


The relevance of Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" to poker has been discussed at length, and I want to add my experience.

A primary theme of the book is that fortunate timing and 10,000 hours of experience in a field is often what it takes to become successful.

I often think about how I may not have ever become a profitable poker player if it weren't for lucky timing. I was lucky to be caught up in the poker boom created by hole cameras on the World Poker Tour and Chris Moneymaker; I was lucky to have friends who played in $5 buy-in home games; I was lucky to play poker in a time when frequent reload bonuses made it easy for a losing player to still turn a profit; I was lucky Neteller was still around at the time so that I could easily take advantage of those bonuses; I was lucky those good times lasted long enough for me to get the experience I needed to survive on my own.

I haven't reached 10,000 hours of poker playing time yet. I figure I've averaged about 2 hours of poker practice a day since I started playing online in spring 2004, meaning I still have seven or eight years to go before I reach that point.

But the practice I did get while clearing those bonuses in my first couple of years playing online is what gave me the time I needed to read, study, write, watch videos, listen to podcasts and think about poker enough to gain a proficiency in this great game. I'm forever thankful to have been caught up in poker during its largest expansion, which gave me the opportunity to reach my poker potential.


kurokitty said...

Do you think with multitabling you have reached the 10K hour mark faster?

Gnome said...

Multitabling lets you get in many more hands, but does your experience level advance that much faster as well?
I agree that playing more hands hastens the learning curve, but I'm not sure by how much.
The impression I got from "Outliers" is that part of the process of gaining expertise is gained through spending the time working at it, and the quality of that time sometimes isn't as important. Gladwell seemed to be saying that you've gotta grind out those hours before you truly gain the experience needed.
On the other extreme, someone who 20 tables is getting a ton of practice but very little experience because he doesn't have time to think about his mistakes.
The 10,000 hours number seems somewhat arbitrary to me, but it's probably close enough to the time commitment needed to achieve expertise that it's a decent enough measuring stick.