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High Standards

Yesterday, I posted about my HU losses in the HUC5. As part of that post, I wrote about how I lost one tournament because I pushed all-in over a preflop re-raise with pocket Tens, only to be called by pocket Jacks. I figured that some of you would consider it a cooler, and I wouldn't 100% disagree. Still, I can't let myself off the hook that easily. I hold myself to high standards, which I will discuss in a moment, and if you too strive to be the best poker player you can be, I suggest you hold yourself to the same standards.

But first, a quick recap. I found some time to play two quick SNGs last night. The first one was a 6-seater on Absolute, where I took 2nd place with minimal effort. The other one was a 4-person HU SNG on FullTilt, where I won my first match and lost my second. In the second match, we went back and forth for a long while. By the last hand, we were nearly even, with me slightly trailing. I was dealt 77. I bet or check-raised, and he pushed all-in. I thought for a moment and realized that I was likely behind. However, my brain and my finger were not on speaking terms, apparently, and I clicked "call". He had pocket Jacks, and I lose again.

That loss really pissed me off because I knew better. In fact, I flew in the face of one of my recent Quick Tip, "When playing poker, if you know that you are beat, fold." When I posted that quick tip, it was a bit tongue in cheek, mostly a reaction to players who call and say, "I knew you had it." But it applies to me as much as anyone else. I knew I was beat, but I called.

RecessRampage, in his comment to the last post, wrote, "I'm not sure I can get away from TT heads up..." I can certainly understand that thought. TT is within the top 5 best hands, so fearing a higher hand is somewhat counter-productive. However, in both the TT and 77 instances, I could feel that I was behind. It was likely subtle clues like the speed of my opponents' all-in/raise, combined with the rarity of such moves.

Whatever the case, though, I asked myself this question, "Would the best player in the world be able to lay down TT in HU play given the conditions at the time?" I would venture, yes. My next thought is, "Don't I want to be the best player in the world?" Yes, once again. Ergo, I must learn to lay down TT in HU situations.

Admittedly, I'm nowhere close to being the best player in the world, and I don't have much of a chance of reaching that status. However, it is where I want to be; where I strive to be. It's why I blog almost daily, and play just as much.

So, next time you've faced a situation that feels like a cooler, take a step back and look it over again. If there was a way to escape the cooler situation, then its up to you to improve yourself so that next time, you can make the correct move.

Yes, I hold myself to impossibly high standards, but it works for me.


While I'm here, I'm going to post my long answers to PokerPeaker's email interview. If you want to see Peaker's end product, take a look at his post on

1. Why did you begin to blog?

I began to blog as a hobby, or more accurately, a passion project. I was talking and thinking about poker too much, and I didn't have an outlet to discuss poker on a daily basis. I stumbled upon a now defunct blog, and then found Tao of Poker. After a while reading blogs, I began to think that writing a blog would be a great way to work out some more thoughts, and just as importantly, meet some fellow players who were as passionate about the game as I was. I succeeded in both goals.

2. When you did, was improving your poker game one of your reasons?

Absolutely. I had ideas, but no outlet to work them out with intelligent people with a similar obsession (Editor's Note: Notice the use of "similar obsession" rather than "similar interests'). The blog gave me that opportunity and also forced me to chronicle my actual wins and losses. The blog was the driving force that got me to change my outlook of poker from a fun game to play to a long term pursuit.

3. How has blogging improved your game?

I've further developed my ideas about certain situations, like how to use aggression in heads-up play and how to use a shortstack in a tournament. I tend to think very differently than most players, so I also get a lot of feedback when I post some of my more questionable hands. That feedback has opened me up to a ton of new ideas. It also introduced me to a lot of blogs whose content have really added value to my game.

4. How do you think most bloggers play? Are bloggers generally better than the average player? The average online player?

This is sort of a loaded question, but I'll do my best. The second and third questions are easy. Bloggers are almost unanimously better than the average online or live player. To me, that's as plain as day. You put any blogger at a table with a bunch of mediocre players, and I'd gladly back the blogger. We think about the game more, we discuss it more, and we play it more. How could we be worse? Now to the first part. I'd say we play an intelligent game, that takes into consideration more ideas than the average player. Whether than means an individual blogger is tight or loose depends on that blogger's individual personality. Overall, I'd say we are opportunistic players who play a tight aggressive game. This doesn't even consider the fact that bloggers play different against each other than we do against the general populace.

5. How do other players play with bloggers? Do they seem to enjoy it? Have you run into "fans" outside of the blogging community?

If you want to play with bloggers, I suggest you join one of the weekly blogger tournaments, specifically the Mondays at the Hoy and the Mookie on Wednesdays. In general, if you come to play a blogger game and you are looking for a good time, you'll find it. It's the closest thing to a live game online, since we tend to know each other's plays and we talk a lot in the chat. As a newcomer, you'll be welcomed, and you'll likely have an advantage as an unknown player. I should warn you, though. After playing for a couple of weeks, don't be surprised if you find yourself starting your own blog.

I've only been outed twice or perhaps thrice in my two plus years playing poker. I'll admit its immediately flattering. I'd gladly chat with anyone who wants to talk and isn't a dick.

6. Has blogging improved your live play at all?

Yes. It got me to keep notes on particular hands, so I'm actively processing my play afterwards when I'm blogging about it. It's also given me an opportunity to write out some of the thoughts I have at the table, like when I pick up tells. The act of writing it out really helps me analyze my play and retain new information.

7. Most blogs, I've noticed, aren't soley about poker these days. Why not?

It's very difficult to write about poker everyday and not turn into an endless journal of "Today I lost $115" and "I won 124 yesterday" or a string of hand histories. Most poker bloggers are open, opinionated people, otherwise we wouldn't blog. So, its only natural that eventually, a blogger will mention that, "Hey, my job sucks" or "My wife's pregnant" or "the government is establishing a nanny-state", Frankly, that's some of the most interesting parts about poker blogs for me. I love learning about these people all over the world who share a love for poker. In general, I've noticed that we are 99% good-natured people.

8. Do you learn from other blogs? Which ones? Why?

I read a ton of blogs, but there are a select few that really have taught me things that I use regularly. I have to give credit to Fuel55. I've learned a thing or two from him about set farming. Hoyazo posts a lot of deep analysis. I don't necessarily agree with him on all things, but he always explains himself in a way that is well thought out and intelligent. It's important to get different perspectives on how to play because sometimes, Hoy will open my game up to new ideas and other times I'll learn what my opponent is thinking when he reads a hand, even if its not what I would be thinking. Finally, I have to mention DoubleAs, who really got me to open my mind about the pressure poker and the complexities of the game, generally. He doesn't post often anymore, but his archives are fantastic (not to mention his book).

The bottom line is, you can learn something from every blog out there. If nothing else, blogs are a window into how other people think. As a poker player, you are constantly coming across new people who you need to read immediately. Blogs can offer you a foundation in the various ways people think about the game, be it how others play a hand in a hand history recap or how players approach the game overall. As a student of poker, you should be a student of life and people in general, and I'd venture to say that there isn't a better opportunity to see poker players laid bare as when they write their personal thoughts on a daily or weekly basis.


Until next time, make mine poker!

***** This post sponsored by the fine folks at the GNUF poker room. *****
*** Check out GNUF's World's Greatest Dice Roll!***

posted by Jordan @ 10:30 AM,


At 1:14 PM, Blogger mindaddy said...

Love the blog and the fact you strive to get better. TT v. JJ HU is a cooler depending on stack sizes and blinds. The only problem with your 77 v. JJ was that you were on FTP and not Stars, where you undoubtedly would've caught at least one 7.

At 1:24 PM, Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

I think 99 is my cutoff. Below that, I think I would fold. 99 is a maybe. But like you said, if you have a feeling, you have to go with the feel.

Btw, I gotta disagree with the bloggers being better than nonbloggers. I think the blogging world exemplifies the overall make up of poker players. Some very good players, some decent players, and some serious donkeys. I've come to learn that even if someone blogs or "thinks" about poker, it doesn't necessarily make them better players. I used to think that bloggers were probably better but now, I'm not so sure. There are good ones and bad ones, just like any other nonblogger poker table.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

You have some good points, Alan. There is a large different between 88 and TT, heads up, so point well taken. As for the overall quality of play amongst bloggers, I still have to respectfully disagree. There may be donkey bloggers, but I would guess that the percentage of bloggers who are donkeys is a lot lower than the percentage of non-blogger poker players who are donkeys.

At 3:01 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I don't think I need to weigh in with my feelings on bloggers vs. non-bloggers in poker skill.

Although I do agree that there are clearly good and bad poker-playing bloggers out there, much like in the broader public.

Nice post Jordan as usual.

At 11:45 PM, Blogger Gnome said...

The TT hand depends entirely on stack/blind sizes. In a heads-up cash game with both players having 100 BB, I'll get all in preflop with TT just about never.


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