Sometimes Players Will Tell You Exactly How They Play. You Just Have To Listen.

I could not help but laugh (to myself, mind you) when I overheard a player in my local $2/5 no-limit game make the following statement: “I wanted to raise you but I didn’t have it.”

Clearly this gentleman was a recreational player, just looking to have some fun in the poker room. This is great! He’s exactly the type of player we want at the table. But as his opponent, it’s our job to use every tool available to us to gain an edge on him (and all opponents.) In this case, he’s practically handing us part of our edge on a silver platter as he’s honestly talking about his inability to bluff raise and his likelihood of having a strong hand when he does raise.

Simply by listening to our opponents we gain valuable information. If we were wearing headphones or doing other things that disengage us from the gameplay we may create the wrong kind of atmosphere for players to go off as well as miss crucial tells such as this.

Whether we like it or not, we all give away some information no matter how hard we try not to. The difference is that some of the time our opponents will actually verbalize this information. By paying attention we can deduce what level they are thinking on, and then simply adjust our game to play one level higher.

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Legalizing Cannabis In Ohio

ResponsibleOhio_Logo_Final

You don’t have to use cannabis to understand how unfair, illogical and oppressive it is to arbitrarily ban the plant. Just keep an open mind when reading my thoughts (including my open letter to Governor Kasich) and learning about Responsible Ohio, the group leading the charge to give Ohioans back the inherent freedoms they were born with.

ISupport-1024x1024

I hope you’ll take just a few minutes to click the links herein to learn about and support the cause. Here is where you can share your story. Don’t be shy. Ohio needs other normal men & women to step up and be heard: you are the only person who should control what goes into your body, including cannabis, marijuana, nicotine, alcohol, coffee, soda pop, sugar, red meat, gluten, bath salts, etc. Below is a copy of what I submitted for my story.200million-1024x1024

I am a life long Ohio resident and small business owner in Columbus. I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression since I was a child, making my first visit to a psychologist before age 10 and continuing to talk with a professional to this day. Since 2013 I’ve dealt with PTSD after being involved in a fatal crash in St. Lucia. Talking with a professional has helped immensely. In addition, cannabis has been a magical substance for me, alleviating many of the symptoms that find their way into my brain and cause me to fall into severe “ruts.” I do not understand how our lawmakers, who seem more like “overlords” in this case, can arbitrarily ban something that grows naturally on our planet and not see how oppressive and unfair it is to their constituents.

I hope that other “free” human beings will step up and let their voice be heard. You don’t have to use cannabis to understand how unfair and oppressive the laws are. It’s not up to anyone but you to decide what you put into your body.42Seconds-1024x1024

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Speaking With A Mental Health Professional

A cursory glance of the world will show that humanity is not in the best of places mentally. Sure, there are the elite people who seem to have it all figured out but they are few and far between. The rest of us are but mere mortals and undoubtedly we can be shaken up from time to time, figuring out life as we go along. This is ok!

What is not ok, however, is that most people do nothing about it. Most people are horrified at the idea of talking to their inner circle about what is bringing them down, let alone reaching out to a stranger for help with their feelings.

Why is this? What is so scary and/or taboo about seeing a mental health professional? Most civilized adults have their teeth professionally cleaned & checked once or twice a year. Most of those same people also have regular eye exams and a good percentage see their general health doctor on the regular. Women are even more likely to regularly visit a doctor, given the amount of “women” things that only happen to women’s bodies (sidenote: it can suck to be a woman.)

Yet when it comes to mental health, all bets are off. Society seems to have scarred the idea of colloquially talking about visiting a psychologist, psychiatrist or “shrink”, with negative or embarrassing connotations being attached to those and similar terms. As a result most people never even consider seeking out professional help, instead simply adhering to their way it’s been mentality and ultimately accepting mental mediocrity.

I’d like to change that. I’m not afraid or embarrassed to admit that I regularly see a psychologist. Hell, I’m proud of it. I’ve been fortunate in my business and investments that I’m able to afford an insurance plan which allows for me to see a fantastic PsyD for just a $25 co-pay per visit. Aside from discussing my feelings about any particular problem or issue, we also discuss life, business and all things esoteric. I consider him a trusted and valued advisor, life-coach, & mentor as well as a fantastic doctor. He is one of many sharp people who I surround myself with to help me be the human I can be.

If you’ve ever considered reaching out to someone for help, now is the time! Don’t let your pride get in the way. Don’t worry about what others may think of you. No one is going to ever care about your mental health more than you should. Step up and ask your doctor for a referral and then add your mental health professional to the list of doctors you regularly visit.

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Would You Rather Be Right, Or Dead?

Look both ways!

Look both ways!

It amazes me how people take things for granted. Or perhaps they just have too much faith in other people. Take for instance the man I witnessed randomly crossing a busy street in the vicinity of a cross walk. He simply had his head down and paid no attention to the cars the may or may not be coming on either side of him. He saw that I was coming but simply took the initiative to start crossing the street figuring that I would stop as opposed to hitting him.

This is a critical mistake and one that nearly all people (97% or more) make. It is not as simple as blindly cross the street and assume the car will stop in lieu of hitting you. There are countless other options, many of which involve the car hitting you, smashing you, running you over and killing you. All it takes is one idiot to be texting or doing any other number of things they could be doing to take their eyes off of the road for a split second for your assumption to become a deadly incorrect one.

Part of me wants to help educate people on simple ways they can improve their lives by thinking about things like this and not assuming their own safety. But the other part of me wants to let Darwinism have another shot.

If you value your life, don’t be that guy. Realize that if you are in a cross walk or parking space or just crossing a street, there is no magic force field that keeps vehicles from turning you into pavement. Cross walks do not keep us alive – common sense & keen awareness of the world around us does.

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Uber’s Travis Kalanick’s Wii Tennis Skills Get Him Added To ‘The People Fund’

New to Uber? Click here to join & we both get free rides!

New to Uber? Click here to join & we both get free rides!

Despite being a huge fan of Uber’s business model and product, until recently I knew nothing about their CEO, Travis Kalanick.

It took just one article about Travis’ skills in Wii tennis to convince me that he’s ideal material for The People Fund, alongside similar visionaries, Elon Musk, Richard Branson & Jeff Bezos.

Unfortunately, as of this writing in early 2015, Uber is not publicly traded and I have no way to acquire stock at this time. Not to fear, I look forward to keeping an eye on Travis and hopefully being able to get in on the Uber IPO.

New to Uber? Click here to sign up (for free!) In addition, for using my link we will both get free rides. Uber makes getting around as easy as can be. Cheers!

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Playing LAG To Quickly Build An Image & Then Putting It To Use

I am fortunate that a few close friends of mine also happen to be beasts on the poker table. Being able to discuss the game with players who are much better than me is a tremendous boost to my game and I am grateful for my situation.

In learning to play full ring no-limit and pot-limit (PLO) cash games, I began playing a conservative, tight aggressive (TAG) style. So long as I actually have a skill edge, playing TAG should be a profitable venture and thus far it has been.

Recently my poker savant friends have pointed out that I should consider opening up my game to play a looser style, specifically LAG (loose aggressive) as they unanimously agree it should be even more profitable. Not being one to shun advice from better players, I’ve made it a point to open up my game. I’m opening more pots with a wider range (usually in position), and focusing on range narrowing and hand reading my opponents in an effort to maximize value. The idea is to build a loose image in an effort to get paid off on my value hands.

Below is a fun example from one of my last sessions of 2014 where I quickly built up an aggressive image and didn’t hesitate to put it to use.

12/30/14 $1/2 NL $400 Effective Stacks.

I buy-in for the $400 max and immediately open the KClubTClub from UTG+1 at a seven handed table. Two players call, including the Villain in the SB who seemed to be paying close attention to the action. We all have $400 stacks.

Flop QSpadeTDiamond8Club [Pot $33 Stacks $390]

SB checks, I bet $15 and only the SB calls. In hindsight I want to bet more in spots like this.

Turn QSpadeTDiamond8Club5Club [Pot $63 Stacks $375]

SB check calls our $35 bet. Again, I should be betting heavier here.

River QSpadeTDiamond8Club5ClubTHeart [Pot $133 Stacks $340]

SB checks. I use one red and one black chip to bet $105. SB complains and folds but I take note that he’s annoyed and very aware of the action. This hand sets up the hand below which takes place just a few orbits later. I believe that by being just one level ahead of the SB I was able to get him to over play the hand below for stacks.

12/30/14 $1/2 NL $335 Effective Stacks.

One hand prior Villain (SB from hand above) had opened the SB to $11 after a few limpers and ends up showing down K5 suited. On the next hand from the button, Villain again opens to $11. I call from the SB with the AHeartJDiamond. BB also calls. The Villain is playing $335 and I cover. While some may like a raise with what figures to be the best hand here, punishing the Villain’s obvious wide range, I decided to call to avoid bloating the pot while out of position. Villain didn’t seem to be the type to fold and why would we want him to fold a second best hand anyway?!

Flop JSpade9Diamond5Diamond [Pot $33 Stacks $324]

Bingo. This is exactly the flop we can crush Villain on if he’s got any piece. In our short time playing against him, we’ve noted that he is observant and also wide. We can try to use our “aggressive” image to lure the Villain into making a big mistake. In other words, we are not slow playing top pair w top kicker. I check, BB checks, Villain bets $25. I check-raise to $105…the same exact bet size I made on the river in the hand above, again using one red and one black chip. The BB quickly folds and just as quickly, the Villain announces that he’s all-in.

Mentally, I’ve snap called his jam, (that’s why we check-raised!) but I ask the dealer for a count anyway. I already knew his stack size (Sidenote: we should have a rough estimate of all of the stacks at our table, always!) but I felt that asking for the count would not let the Villain or the rest of the table in on the fact that I had set up this exact result. After the dealer announced the total, I calmly slid out the chips and made the call.

Turn JSpade9Diamond5DiamondASpade [Pot $681 Stacks $0]

River JSpade9Diamond5DiamondASpade8Diamond [Pot $681 Stacks $0]

Villain turns over the QDiamondJClub and we win the $681 pot. As Villain complains, we offer a friendly “unlucky” as if to console villain for losing with top pair. (Sidenote: keep the game friendly! This player was happy to agree that he was “unlucky” that I also had top pair.)

While we were fortunate to get a great flop for Villain to go nuts, there’s no guarantee he would have been so eager to get his stack in with top pair, third kicker had we not made the same $105 bet a few orbits prior. Having a plan and executing the plan worked out in our favor. We quickly built an image with one player, found a spot to capitalize on that image, and then pulled the trigger. The poker gods took care of the rest.

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Optimal Life Theory

Poker Tools In Poker

As an avid amateur poker player, I nearly get the same enjoyment studying the game off the felt as I do playing the game. While being on the felt in the middle of the action can be exhilarating, and nothing beats the rush from going deep in a multi-table tournament, studying the game can produce nearly the same satisfaction.

The reason for this (besides me being an information junkie) is that it is hard to find the time to put in a lengthy cash session, and MTTs are even harder to work into my schedule. However I can use Two Plus TwoCardplayer, and Live at the Bike anytime from anywhere without committing to a lengthy session.

These resources and many others are crucial tools in the development of any poker player. While it’s probably not impossible to improve without outside help, it’s surely much, much harder to do so. In a game where we try to exploit our opponents and to maximize value, it seems foolish and counterproductive to not utilize the multitude of resources available to us.

Many of poker’s best players are masters of Game Theory, or strategic decision-making. A big part of what makes them the best of the best is that they are less exploitable than the rest of us (except Phil Ivey who seems to be completely unexploitable.)

Game Theory Optimal (GTO) looks for an unexploitable strategy. No matter what our opponent does, if we are using a GTO strategy, he can never beat us, he can only tie us at best. If he deviates from GTO, he’ll eventually lose. In poker we should always be looking for the optimal strategy, so when I’m on the felt I often find myself in my own head asking ‘what is the optimal play in this spot?’ I may not make the optimal play as I may realize after the fact that there were better options available, but that’s all part of the learning process. The key is that I’ve trained my mind to at least ask the question, not just in poker but in all aspects of life.

Poker Tools In Life

Thinking about the optimal way to approach things is a big part of the wisdom gained by studying poker’s best players that also translates into everyday life. For example, I often find myself asking ‘what is the optimal way’ with regard to a mundane life task, or a common life situation. Sure, I can make my bed, feed my dog, brew coffee and brush my teeth, but I can also ask myself ‘what is the optimal way to complete morning tasks?’ In doing so I have found that it’s much more efficient to brew the coffee first, then feed the dog since it’s next to the coffee, prior to making my bed. By the time the bed is made, the dog has a full belly and is ready to go out, which is easy since the door is next to the freshly brewed coffee. Then I wait to brush my teeth until after I finish my coffee, which provides better protection from coffee stains than had I brushed first thing (this may not work if there were other people around but for me it fits!)

While you likely don’t have the same work routine to replicate mine, you can replicate this way of thinking with regard to many of the situations you find yourself in on a day-to-day basis, such as optimal driving theory, or optimal elevator theory as described below.

Optimal Elevator Theory

Do you ever ride on an elevator? Optimal elevator theory would tell you to always wait to board the elevator, assuming a rider will be exiting when the doors open. As a the rider we can use optimal elevator theory to assume that when the doors open, no one will try to board as their optimal move is to wait. The result would be that collisions never happen while entering and exiting the elevator would take place as fast as possible since both the boarder and the rider are using optimal elevator theory when the doors open. However, if the boarder deviates from the optimal strategy and steps to board as soon as the doors open, a collision will occur with departing rider. Deviating from the optimal strategy caused a non-optimal result (collision).

Conclusion

You do not have to be a poker player to understand and utilize this way of thinking. Simply train yourself to rethink things while asking yourself about each part of the process. When focusing on being as economic & efficient as possible, you will amaze yourself at the time-saving efficiencies you’ll discover. Tweet some of them to me @donniccolo!

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Youth Clicks ‘Search’. Wisdom Clicks ‘Advanced Search’.

I once heard an analogy that compared a younger person’s train of thought to that of an older person. A half-drunk girl was rambling on and I’m not sure she even meant to make the point that she made, which I found fascinating in both its simplicity and how often many people overlook it in their lives.

She stated that when she was young, she was quite likely to make hasty decisions, often choosing the fastest or easiest path. However as she’s gotten older, she’s become pickier and pickier about her decisions. Her analogy, which I immediately loved and told her I was going to steal, was that “When you’re young, you click ‘search’. When you’re old, you click ‘advanced search’.”

Youth = search

Youth = search

Wisdom = advanced search

Wisdom = advanced search

I’ve found this to be true in my own life but only because I’ve made the conscious effort to challenge the given standards in society and to re-think what is acceptable and preferable for me.

Try this for yourself. Don’t just accept the first or easiest path you find. Think about life as one large ‘advanced search.’ What are the exact things that you want? Be specific, and be honest with yourself, and then go out and find them! With an ‘advanced search’ mentality (along with blocking any thoughts of the way it’s been) there is no reason you cannot control most aspects of your life that lead to happiness.

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New Year. New Goal. #Pelotonia2015 [2014 photos!]

PEL14-Splash-1

As you may know, along with thousands of other riders, organizers, volunteers & sponsors, I enjoy participating in Pelotonia, Columbus’ grassroots bike tour with One Goal – End Cancer.

 2012 was my first ride and it was an overwhelming success. Not only was I inspired to ride again, but I couldn’t help to try to involve others as well. Being a part of a $16.8m fundraising campaign, where every dollar goes directly toward life-saving cancer research was a surreal experience. With your help we raised over $1,600 toward that sum and our eyes were opened to just how far $1,600 can go when thousands of people raise it at the same time!

Here is a link to my first post from 2012 and here’s what I had to say after the ride.

The 2013 ride was also a success, raising another $1,500 toward a whopping $19m total for the year.

In 2014, your support continued as we combined to contribute $1,300 of the $21m raised for the year!

In three years, with your generous support we have contributed nearly $4,500 of the $56m raised in that span. To me, that’s the most inspiring part – realizing that there are thousands of others out there just like you and I – all doing their part to contribute a “little” toward a “large” sum! Perhaps none of us could donate $4,500 at once, but together we were able to.

Others have taken the same path and along with them we have helped to raise nearly $82,000,000 since the start of the ride, with every single dollar being spent to END CANCER.

Registration for Pelotonia 2015 is just a few weeks away. Consider getting involved – donate, ride, volunteer, or just help spread the word. I’m convinced that cancer will be defeated in our lifetime. Don’t you want to be a part of that?!

#onegoal #STOH

#onegoal #STOH

I'm lucky to keep up w this one

I’m lucky to keep up w this one

Pelotonia 2014: Opening Ceremony

Pelotonia 2014: Opening Ceremony

Panorama of the opening ceremony, Pelotonia 2014

Panorama of the opening ceremony, Pelotonia 2014

Let's eat!

Let’s eat!

Water is important.

Water is important.

A special #Tesla for #Pelotonia. Two of my favorite things!

A special #Tesla for #Pelotonia. Two of my favorite things!

#Tesla #Pelotonia

#Tesla #Pelotonia

Post race meal. #sogood

Post ride meal. #sogood

Stefanie's Team of Hope, 2014

Stefanie’s Team of Hope, 2014

Pelotonia 14 Opening Ceremony

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There’s No Such Thing As A Small Lie

I love people watching. But then again, who doesn’t?!

I was recently enjoying a coffee at my downtown athletic club after a morning work out. I observed a few women and could not help but to overhear the following scene:

Incredibly naive woman: Do you have a few dollars? I need to pay for my parking.

Lying amoral woman: Don’t do that! Just say you ate here or took the class with me. That way the club will validate and you don’t have to pay. Don’t worry, they never check!

Incredibly naive woman: Wow, really?

Lying amoral woman:  Yes, and don’t worry, I won’t judge (wink wink).

At this point, I’m thinking to myself, “gee, you won’t judge the woman for telling the lie that was your idea? How selfless of you. BITCH.” But rather than say anything, I simply continued to observe.

(note from author: In hindsight, I wish I’d have simply called these women out on the spot. Some people have a talent for calling out strangers. I have yet to master this art. Please contact me with advice on how to do so!)

As fate would have it, the three of us were on the same elevator to the lobby. Walking out, I got to witness the Lying amoral woman strut up to the front desk and nonchalantly tell a lie about how she was in the class. She effectively compromised her entire reputation to avoid paying a few dollars for parking.

While some may consider this to be a small or harmless lie, please realize it is anything but. This is flat-out theft. It would be no different from the woman reaching over the counter and taking $3 out of a drawer, or putting a few packs of gum in her purse without paying for them. Stealing is stealing and to make it worse, this was pre-planned deception. There was intent and premeditation. This is unequivocal.

There are no small or harmless lies. Being untruthful always has a negative impact on your life, regardless if you are caught in your lie or not. Take these women, for example. While they likely won’t get caught in their scheme to avoid paying their fair share for parking, they are breeding a culture of deceit that can only infiltrate their entire lifestyle.

There’s no getting around it – if you are willing to purposely be untruthful, no matter how big or “small” the issue, you can not and should not be counted on or trusted at any future point. You are compromising your dignity & your reputation. Ask yourself: would you rather be friends with a person who has shown their willingness to lie or a person who has a reputation for honesty & integrity?

Accepting any lies in your life, allowing others to influence you to lie, or worse, encouraging others to lie, is amoral at best and sociopathic at worst. Are you a liar? Be better.

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