As a reminder, besides being Angela's first WSOP event, it was her first trip to Las Vegas. On top of that, it was one of the few times she had ever played poker live.
Below, I'll share a snapshot of her first-time experience with you. After that, I'll quickly outline how a debriefing session works. I'd also talk about mindset.
Thanks for your energy: Angela sends her gratitude to everyone out there who sent her positive energy… thanks to her E-Team.
I got a call from Angela late in the evening. She had just finished 558 out of a field of 1048 in the 2011 WSOP Ladies event. That's half the way thru a huge field! Color me proud!
Post-game mindset: From her tone of voice, I could tell Angela was disappointed. That is understandable, however, she was holding up a brave front, and her words were positive. That is good. Pretending is actually an effective tool in mindset.
The good news is that our subconscious does not know when we are pretending. The bad new is that our subconscious does not know when we are pretending. That's why we must be conscious of the words we say.
Think of our subconscious mind as a simple recorder. It does not censor. It does not edit or judge.
We benefit when we are aware of the words that come out of our mouths. When you feel crappy about a session at the poker table, you have a choice. Either beat yourself up or find what you did correctly.
A glimpse at Angela's debriefing. Since this was our first time working together in a post-game debriefing session, she automatically started telling me about her bust out hand.
Instantly, I stopped her and asked her what she did correctly during the tournament.
After a pause, she simply said, "I was patient." The phone when quiet.
"What else?" I asked and waited.
Finally, Angela replied, "I watched the players. I found tells easy to see."
"Tell me more." I probed.
The voice that came next from Angela had a different tone and rhythm. It was as if a light bulb had gone off in her head. Her words started flowing, and I could feel her beaming.
Angela: "They were looking at their cards instantly when they got them. They were simply looking at their cards too much.
"Fold tells were everywhere. They would play with their cards a certain way when they were going to fold them. It was so obvious."
She talked excitedly about how many tells she spotted and about how that helped her make correct decisions. From that higher energy, we went to the other parts of debriefing.
She had had a mindset shift. Changing mindset and making energy shifts are all part of the coaching experience.
Post-game coaching overview
Debriefing is not about a single hand. It is about an event. It's about the big picture.
Over the years, I've discovered that bust out hands are seldom where a player loses a tournament.
Being able to appreciate what you accomplished when you are at the poker table is a critical piece of becoming a consistent winning player. With that in mind, here are the three focus questions during a post-game coaching session:
1. What did I do correctly?
2. What might I have done differently?
3. What can I do in the future to be more effective?
The key to looking back at any poker session is to be gentle, loving, and forgiving with yourself.
Rather than: "Why did I play so poorly?
Ask: "Why am I making better decisions every time I sit down at the poker table?"
Until next time remember my motto:
When you can't raise, don't call.