First time honey badger showed himself to me was back in February of 2016. We were supposed to have a hand history review in one of our weekly group coachings. The tournament we reviewed was a BIG one (lot of cheese for the winner) and there were not many players left in the tournament. I think it is very common that whenever a MTT player goes deep in a tournament where the FT money becomes very significant/life changing they go into so-called “turtle-mode”. If you don’t know what turtle-mode means I can give you an example. I think the best example of turtle-mode is probably Chelsea’s last couple of matches in Champions league back in 2012. If you watch football you probably understand the strategy I’m trying to describe here (Yeah I know that they actually managed to win it but that is not the point here). If you don’t watch football you can think of turtle-mode as ultra defensive strategy.
So let’s go back to the tournament review. We are reviewing hands from the tournament and I start to get a feeling that the guy in the tournament is entering the turtle zone. We see lot of decisions where the guy ends up taking passive/weak lines and throwing lot of bucks out of the window. However there were still some aggressiveness left and I just randomly started thinking of what animal could be the the best at describing aggressive behaviour at the poker table. I found the question so fascinating that I decided to start a Q&A about the subject( If you are thinking now that our group coachings are partly some sort of animal documentaries I can guarantee that is not the case!).
We got some very natural suggestions like tiger, lion and bear. Some unnatural suggestions like bee and rabbit (WTF ????). I’m thinking sure tiger is scary and agro motherfucker but there has to be something more unique. Then somebody suggests honey badger. To be honest I had no idea what honey badger was and how did it look like. Image I had in my head was some sort hedgehog snorting lines of honey. I had to google the dude and it didn’t take too long before I realized honey badger was definitely very mean and very agro. In other words he was perfect.
After that session honey badger somehow managed to cement his place in bitb community. Everybody wanted to be or become the honey badger. We started to talk about who was the most badger player in MTT scene at the moment. Player who pulled some crazy 4bet bluff or 3 street barrel was the badger. Badger was fucking everywhere and I think no one was surprised when the guy became our company logo few months later. Honey badger was here and he wasn’t going anywhere.
How can you become a honey badger? First of all you need to have a lot of heart. However “having a heart” is something people get often wrong. Poker is a profession that has lot of people with big egos. For these people making hero folds on the river or folding some marginal hands preflop is very difficult task. Admitting their mistakes is even more difficult. For them having a heart is cold 5bet jamming 45s into the cold 4bet of the chipleader or turning your TP into a bluff on the river by c-r jamming. If they are right they are geniuses and if they are wrong it is just “ul bro” attitude. The EV of the play is irrelevant.
What does having a heart mean for me? I think having a heart correlates a lot with good self-confidence. Achieving good self-confidence is very straight forward for me. The more I work the more confident I am and the better the quality of my decisions are in-game; The more confident I am the more I’m willing to pull the trigger. It is very straight forward really. Only thing you need to do is to focus on your decision making process and how to improve that process.
People with hearts are quite often also people who are clear with their goals and know how to achieve them. Grinding Piosolver on Saturday night is quite boring for most Poker players if the alternative is to throw around 100 dollar bills in the stripbar.
The difference between real badgers and fake badgers are the quality of their in-game decisions and the effort to improve these decisions when they are not playing. Real badgers are badgers not because they have to prove it for everyone in every session they play but because being a badger is just natural way of playing poker for them. They know that jamming 54s from the BB vs CO who is opening 50% of the hands is right because they grinded the spot yesterday in push-fold software. They know that three barreling 9 high is right on AKT 72 utg vs bb because they spent 3 hours analyzing the scenario in PIO. They don’t have to force or guess things. They just know.
Hopefully you can find some features of real honey badger in yourself. You don’t have to prove that you are a badger to me or anyone else. Real badgers know they are badgers. If you think you are not there yet don’t worry it’s not too late. Changing the gears is important concept at the poker table but even more important in life. Good luck at the tables and enjoy the next 3 minutes of awesomeness.