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Outliers Pt. 1, The 10,000 Hour Rule

Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers is a book about success, and even moreso the factors that come together to create success. Like his two previous books, The Tipping Point and Blink, Outliers
comes to some surprising conclusions about the recipe for success. The book also lends itself nicely to the world of poker, where we all seem to strive for the answer to the question of what makes a poker player great.

The 10,000 Hour Rule
In one of the earlier chapters, Gladwell looked at successes in a variety of fields and found that one general rule applied. In order to become a world-class expert in a given field, the participant had to practice for 10,000 hours. That's why certain people who were fortunate to have unparalleled access to computers at a young age were able to become the titans of the computer world today. From Gladwell's book, the 10,000 hour rule holds steady across multiple disciplines, including chess and music. It just seems to be a general rule (and an odd one at that) that in any discipline one needs 10,000 hours in order to develop the skills or experience to become a world class expert.

It's fairly clear how this applies to poker. Ever since the advent of Internet poker, we've all heard the lament that the online prodigies can get as much experience as an old timey pro in a small fraction of the time. But does this make them equal in experience?

Perhaps not. Perhaps it is the time spent on the activity, rather than the amount of hands played. It's an odd possibility. It's about as much training the mind to think in a certain way, as it is experiencing a hand. It is as much about processing that hand as it is playing it.

All that said, the advent of online poker means that the online player has way more access to games anyway, so he is likely to reach 10,000 hours before a live-only player. So, those online players definitely can (and probably have) closed that gap much quicker than a new live-only player. The 10,000 hour rule also means that there may actually be a holy grail of competence. I'm not saying I agree 100% with Gladwell, but if the studies he cites are legitimate, there is likely something there.

Consider this: If a very casual poker player plays a couple of hours per week (let's go with 2 hrs/week), it would take almost 100 years to reach 10,000 hours. If a nightly online junkie puts in 4 hours per night, it would take almost 7 years to master the game. 7 years! I'm only maybe 6 years into the game and I don't come close to 4 hours per night. A casino grinder who puts in an average of a regular work week (40 hours/week) would take 4.8 years to have logged enough hours to be considered a world-class expert.

In other words, quick bitching. You still have about 8,000 hours to go.

Rather than make an uber post, I'll break this off here and pick up the next post with more from Outliers.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:58 AM,


At 9:47 AM, Blogger Riggstad said...

Gladwell's Outliers is a fine book indeed.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Lucypher said...

Succinctly stated, practice makes perfect. Or, if you prefer, the quantification (at 10k) of the old adage that the amateur practices until he gets it right, while the pro practices until he can't get it wrong.

At 12:09 PM, Blogger NewinNov said...

Good stuff.

At 5:55 PM, Blogger BWoP said...

How many more years? UGH.

That sucks.

I quit.


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