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Rant: What Moorman’s Book of Poker Tells Me About Distraction

Was I always like this? I can’t remember.

Some people blame it on the Internet and advancements in technology. Honestly I don’t know if that’s the case.

My schoolteachers were always scolding me for "not paying attention." Ditto my parents.

I still struggle to get a private project completed. Perhaps it’s just who I am.

What is Displaced Focus?

Irrespective of what the answer is Chris Moorman’s new book, Moorman’s Book of Poker, has really struck a chord with me when it comes to the concept of "displaced focus."

If you haven't read the book (and you should) it contains 80 hands played by co-author Byron Jacobs, comments on the hand by Jacobs and counter comments by Moorman.

Chris Moorman

Attention to detail is impeccable.

I know it’s easier to go into the minutiae of a poker hand when you're freed from the need to play but I assume from the $11m Moorman has racked up in his lifetime on the virtual felt that he's pretty good at picking hands apart on the fly.

I was amazed at his level of detail. As I read I thought: “is this the sort of thought process that goes through the heads of Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth?”

It really is the type of read that makes your eyebrows arch. There are many takeaways from the book but the one I'll cherish the most is this:

The stark realization that there is no way on planet earth that I can do what he does the way that I currently play online poker.

To clarify, I'm not stating I can do what he does as good as he does -- I'm talking about ripping through a hand in the few seconds that you get to make those decisions. Moorman simultaneously:

  • Assigns ranges to all of his opponents
  • Has a clear understanding of each stack size and what that means
  • Knows each opponent’s perception of his own range and
  • Knows what he plans to do on future streets after conjugating all of this information.

25 Minutes is a Long Time in Poker

Two nights ago I finished 9/599 in the nightly $8.80 Omaha Hi/Lo event.

Whilst I was playing I had the Man City v CSKA Moscow Champions League game on in the background, I was writing a series of articles for clients, reading blog posts about poker, playing with Wunderlist and Skyping/Facebooking/Texting/Tweeting.

On this occasion I was only playing one table but I also behave like this when I am multi-tabling. I always have done this.

PL.com Tournament Clock

That's a long time in poker.

But from now on I am going to make a concerted effort to stop. I am burning money. It’s become a case of, what’s the point?

I have realized that the reason I'm doing so many other things whilst playing online poker is because online poker is not a priority in my life. If it were, then it would get the attention it deserved.

I find the game boring because I'm not paying attention to the other hands that I am not involved in. This is a critical part of the game and one that I just don’t partake in.

‘What reads did you have on the guy?”

“Mmm…err…come again?”

I recently read that once you break your focus on something it takes up to 25 minutes to get that back. That’s a long time in poker.

Is Poker Really Interesting to You?

Now, this rant only applies to me. We are different you and I.

108inch tv

If you can't turn off the TV, maybe you need to turn off the poker.

Some people are able to multi-table whilst listening to My Bloody Valentine and writing War and Peace.

It’s important to recognize your own triggers. What distracts you?

For example I've found wearing my Bose Noise Reduction headphones really helps me focus. No music, just flick the switch to drown out those barely imperceptible noises that are really distracting me.

The rest is fairly obvious. Turn off the TV, turn off your phone and turn off everything on your computer except your online poker room.

If eradicating your distractions still doesn’t do it for you. if you still feel compelled to do a hundred other things when playing ...

Then turn off the game. It’s really not that interesting to you.

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