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The Way It's Supposed to Be

First, thank you for all of your comments regarding the proportion between luck and skill in poker. I definitely think that there is a difference between tournaments and cash games, with cash games having less of a luck factor, but I don't think it is significantly different in the long run, and by long run, I mean infinity.

More than one person suggested that it was pointless and/or impossible to try to determine the ratio of luck/skill as relates to poker. Well, to those people, I guess you now understand the Luck Conundrum. It's impossible to actually quantify (at least to me), but it's still something worth thinking about. If you play this game as religiously as most of us do and you don't question it from time to time, both as to what the game is at its essence and how to improve on your own game, then you really aren't from the same poker school as me. Sure, we all try to improve our game. That's practically a given. But sometimes, I have to take a step back, look at the game, and figure out exactly what it is. It's not as simple as rolling dice and it's not as complicated as chess. It's somewhere in between, and where it lies in that spectrum is where I spend my time every time I fire up PokerShare or sit at a live game. If you don't look at that and think about it, then you are missing the forest for the trees. But I'm probably being too harsh. It's different poker schools, some of which encourage this sort of theoretical introspection and others forego it. Neither is necessarily wrong. I just happen to belong to the prior.

On that subject, I have to commend some people, but I'm going to do so without naming names. Instead, let me just say that I appreciate any player who is willing to fly in the face of convention and question, not only the game, but the conventional wisdoms about the game. I'm not saying that I encourage anyone to fly in the face of facts. AA will occur once every 220 hands on average, and you can't argue that. But what you can do is argue how to play AA, and argue against conventional wisdom as to how to play it if you have worked out a new idea or theory. Okay, I will name names, but it's not that these two players are the only ones doing it. They are merely two of the most vocal. SirFWalGman and Fluxer. What is it about these two that I appreciate? They are willing to challenge what we take for granted. They are willing to make plays that an ABC Poker player not only wouldn't make, but wouldn't understand. But more important is why they do it. They do it because they are trying to stay ahead of the game. If everyone expects you to do A, there can be some real benefits to doing B. It might not be how you play it and it may not even be the best way to do it, but at least they are working on their game and doing it through trial and error, rather than through following some book-learned formula. Of course, book-learned formulas can work too. But I sincerely believe that the type of player that moves beyond the books will have an advantage, especially if he/she has already read through the books.

Enough of that pontificating! Let's get down to some poker recap from last night. I have a 5 minute period to play some .50/1 NL on PokerShare and won a whopping $2.20. Then my Floridian cousin Eric came over with brother Dave. We had some dinner and drinks and they left casa del High at about 10:30. I hopped in bed with wifey Kim and once she was securely in slumberland, fired up the computer.

I don't know what it was about yesterday. Maybe it was that I was in bed, with the TV muted and some Chemical Bros playing on my headphones (courtesy of main-man Dave Roose) in the dark. I had a 5 person turbo SNG going, along with a .50/1 NL table. I'm confident now at the .50/1 level, and my online bankroll of about $1,400 probably warrants those stakes. I played smart poker, keeping out of the way for the most part with spurts of aggression here and there. On more than one occassion, I raised it up from late position with 24d or 57s only to continuation bet and take it down. On one hand, I think I had to continuation bet, check the turn and bet the river to take it down. Sure, its dangerous, but I was up in chips and I wanted to use my leverage.

I won the SNG for a measely $21 profit and also took about $26 from the cash game, and I'm thrilled with the results. It's about another $50 to the bankroll and my third winning night in a row. I'm hoping to start a streak to rival my 9-wins-in-a-row from a while back. Of course, let's walk before we run.

So, I don't know what it was. I was playing poker the way it's supposed to be done, and I've got to somehow bottle that and save if for later.

Roose is having a home game tonight, but I probably will skip it. I'm sure Mikey Aps is probably having a game tomorrow, so maybe I'll do that, but rumor has it that those games don't get started till 9pm and don't end until after 12. Add the commute back to NYC and I don't know if it's a smart move.

But Genoa is calling me. I guess it never closed, probably because of it's low profile. So hopefully they have tourneys going, but even if they don't I gots the cash now. My chops are watering. And to think that I gave up on playing underground clubs.

posted by Jordan @ 10:00 AM,

6 Comments:

At 11:52 AM, Blogger L'artiste said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12:00 PM, Blogger L'artiste said...

Poker is math and Poker is gambling. Every possible scenario is accounted for which is why terms like expected value and probabilities are used whenever the game is analysed.

For instance, you get all your money in with pocket aces against pockets 7, but the pocket 7's catch another one on the flop and your aces go down in flames. Were you unlucky? Not really. Mathematics say your aces will lose against a pair of sevens once every 5.5 times. It's an unfortunate situation, but those were the risks you were taking by accepting this proposition in the first place. Now no one will obviously refuse this proposition, you will never lay down pocket aces to pocket 7's preflop, but you have to know that the numbers, while stacked greatly in your favour, will have you come out on the losing side at times. At the core, Poker is a gambling game.

Poker doesn't have a soul. It doesn't have an essence. The game is what it is.

The human aspect, on the other hand, is where you can start thinking about levels and layers. "He knows that I know that I think he knows" types of thinking will give you an edge on your opponents. You can be steps ahead of him, but you'll never be steps ahead of IT. If it's time for your aces to go down to pocket 7's, than your aces will go down to pocket 7's. And that's pretty much all there is to it.

 
At 12:12 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

l'artiste sets forth a defeatist attitude as it pertains to luck (not players though). It's true, l'artiste. You can never get ahead of luck.

Man, I feel like a broken record. I don't disagree with any of the analyses that say that you WILL lose sometimes due to probability. L'artiste makes a distinction between luck and probability, which actually is a VERY good point.

I'm just trying to discern what the maximum edge is in a game where luck/probability is a factor.

I guess the answer is that it is entirely uncalculable by us (although maybe some mega-computer could help us), so thinking about it is just spinning my wheels. But hey, I like to think about things that I cannot necessarily affect.

 
At 12:56 PM, Blogger Tom aka 10,000 Days said...

Being able to play LAG-gy well will generate the most profit, so to me it's only common sense to fly in the face of convention and I cannot understand the people who play Lee Jones hold 'em with by-the-book calling and raising guidelines.

I raise every single time from the CO or Button if it's folded around to me. Not only does it piss people off and make them think you're BS, but your strong hands will get paid off because someone "has to see".

That stuff is just the tip of it all, though. There's so much more you can do to throw people off, but I don't discuss game theory much because I think a lot of people have a poor approach and I want it to stay that way.

 
At 2:43 PM, Blogger Chi_Town said...

Another very important consideration in poker that people tend to overlook when "luck" discussions come into play is... You may be lucky to get this or that card, BUT you have control over the decision-making process with dilutes the luck factor. You pick up AA (wow... lucky day), but what do you do with them??? Push all-in and everyone folds... you pick up the blinds... how unlucky is that??? Luck seems to permeate our poker perceptions when the miracle card comes on the river, and/or during the all-in moments. But during a hand played out to the river, when that 4th heart hits the board on 5th street, and your opponent check-raises, you know what to do. But if you were all-in before the flop, he sure got lucky didn't he???

 
At 8:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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