Monday, February 9, 2009

pre-utah poker blog

After the wild game on friday I decided to go up to running aces for a little live poker. I was sitting next to a guy and we were having a pleasant conversation about poker and he then called 4 bets out of the big blind with jack six offsuit. He was talking about how he was stuck and he didn't have the money to play bigger. Usually I just say oh and kinda move on. This time I was feeling a little bold and chatty so I said something along the lines of "I dunno man, you could probably do without the j6o for 4 bets." I know I'm tapping the glass which is kinda bad for my co-workers but I don't make a living in that game and I was feeling nice. It was just him and I talking and everyone else was at the other end of the table so it was kind of a private conversation.

He looked up to me and said "Are you kidding? I won the pot. Isn't that what matters?" He was dead serious. In a semi-rude way I guess...I asked him if he was leveling me or if he was really on the level of whatever wins the pot was a good play. He got more adament with me about if I was serious that I thought otherwise. "Of course I'm on that level, I just want to win the pot and get the money and jack 6 did that." I knew it was time to drop the conversation. I tried to help a poor soul and he wasn't having it. Fine by me.

There's just so much of this in poker. Everyone thinks they are experts and it's so easy. I remember when a good friend of mine first played he came back and told me he had the game figured out...just play pretty much every hand and if you dont have much by the turn throw it away, as that's where people started getting serious about what they had. This made perfect logical sense to me. See what the flop brings and if by the time most of the hand is over you dont have much you can fold and wait until the next hand. I was excited that he and now I had it figured out.

Most people suck at poker and especially limit holdem. I used to suck. I still suck at a lot of the games. I can't play omaha for the life of me and it's sorta embarrasing. Same with heads up no limit. I put a reasonable amount of time into trying to learn it, too. There really is tons I don't know and tons I still have left to learn. That goes for limit holdem too...there is plenty left to learn...but it's kinda like weightlifting, the learning can be leaps and bounds for awhile, but you get to a point where getting much better is pretty tough. Part of why lhe is such a great game is the variance is incredible and a person can make terrible plays over and over and still win for quite some time. This leads to dilusion when they start losing. Most of these people are very successful in other facets of life so when they were having that poker success for awhile they got all this positive feadback from all these dumb things they did. Most successful people are at least reasonably logical, so they just assumed that meant the plays were right. Now they are just getting unlucky and might even be the most unlucky person ever.

I kind of went through that phase for about 8 months when the uiega was coming into effect. I was used to playing 4-6 tables and winning consistantly. The games changed and I was slow to adjust and it made for some painful losing. Finally I figured out that I couldn't play as many tables and had to cut out the phone/im/internet distractions and I got back on track. It was a slow process though because it was easy to get wrapped up in previous success. I was guilty too. I'm sure something similar will happen again, but I hope that realizing all of this will help me see things clearer and faster.

I've also come to the conclusion that most people just truly aren't serious about getting better and making money at poker. They may say they are and when you press a conversation they get all motivated, but 99 times out of 100 you talk to them a month later and they haven't really made any progress. They just want to play and 'pick things up' as they play. Practice is great and playing a lot is great, but if you don't spend some time learning and thinking about the game outside of the game itself, you're going to be getting too much feedback that is results oriented. It's truly work and it's often not that fun to sit there and watch a training video, or read a book, or do some math, or pour over you're pokertracker database to see if you can find anything interesting worth noting. That's another thing, almost all of my friends are too lazy to use poker tracker. Sure you can have tons of success without it and a lot of the 'high stakes notable players' don't use it but that doesn't make it not invaluable and it just often (but not always) shows how little true work somebody is willing to put into their game because it's something very easy to do and if they aren't willing to do that, it's not particularly likely they're doing the other small things to get better.

And don't get me started about tilters. I know so many people that look at me like I'm speaking russian when I ask them why they are still playing some guy heads up or still playing in a bad game. I'm stuck 7k, DUH!!! I can understand in the best game ever, but so often I see it in shitty spots...where they probably have an edge when they are on top of their game, but in their mindset are doing nothing but self destructing. They know how to technically play the hands, but they have too many bad habits. I'm not perfect, either. I played a little longer than I should have in a game in LA and it probably cost me.