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Let's do an Iggy-inspired rambling post. I can't promise it'll be an uber, but it will be lovely and disjointed.

First off, thanks for all of the comments recently. As I'm sure a lot of my blogger bretheren will agree, getting comments is like a virtual pat on the back for a blogger. It just gives you a sort of sense of fulfillment, like, yeah, okay, people are actually reading AND engaging, even if they don't agree with me.

With that in mind, let me turn back to the Luck Conundrum post. It's interesting, because you never know what will interest people, and I'm surprised that the issue of Luck actually got so much of a reaction. I mean, it's one of the most base topics in the poker spectrum. As it goes, I was only asking what percentage of the game is actually skill and what is actually luck. It wasn't meant to reach a final answer or effect anyone's play. Rather, it was one of those esoteric discussions, which I guess is what gets the biggest reactions, interestingly. Truth be told, I considered asking CC from Quest of a Closet Poker Player to do something on Luck in poker, but I decided to do it myself. I figured that CC was a better person to discuss these topics and get a consensus. But in the end, I felt the need to lay it out myself.

With that in mind, I have to turn to a recent comment by Matty Ebs, a buddy of mine whose poker chops I highly respect. I know Ebs from my younger brother, Dave. They were friends growing up, and since Matty Ebs lived around the corner from me and I got along with him and his two younger brothers, I babysat for them. Time passed and I didn't see him for a while, but when I did, I found out that he was dealing in an underground cardroom and playing for money that I could not yet fathom (and still can't). He's no longer working in a card room, and I don't know his current stakes, but I've played with him and we've discussed the game. He hinted to me that he might even start his own blog, and if he does, you'll hear it from me as soon as its ready. Frankly, I think he'd be great as a blogger.

So, Matty Ebs left a comment after the Luck Conundrum article was a couple of days old. Many of you probably didn't see his comment, so I'm going to post it here. What I want to focus on are a couple of things. First, his views are very different from most of the other views, especially since he suggests that in some ways tournaments require MORE skill than cash games. Very counter-intuitive. Second, just enjoy how he explains himself. It's one thing to throw out and idea. It's another to explain it in such a way that it really makes people (i.e., me) reevaluate what they think they know. Oh, and read it for yourself, because I can't do it justice. Here it is:

I was at your game when you posed me the question and my initial response on the luck skill debate was that it was 60/40 skill over luck, but after further analysis I think it isn't the kind of question that can be answered on a scale of one to ten.

I have several theories so I'll seperate them this may become a long post but its my first so it was bound to be. First in response to Tom (10,000 days) and the question of whether skill is more of a factor in cash games or tournaments I would say that purely poker knowledge is more pertinent to cash games, but there are exclusive tournament skills that have nothing to do with the game that can make or break a novice regardless of his cards. Tournaments put a lot more emphasis on stack size, especially when considering psychological factors of bubbling and blind increases, while the decrease in ratio between stack and blinds increases the luck factor, the knowledge of when to push with any two, or any premium or when to go in allin mode, are not concepts of luck but rather skill. I would say that it seems the skill of tournament play supercedes cash game skill but strictly mathematical, psychological and strategical poker knowledge play a greater role in cash games, where not only the stakes but the players are likely to be the same longer.

Now my take on the skill vs luck debate is that while math is fair on all of us, getting aces 1 hand in 220 may not be spread across if u play varying limits and getting aa v kk when ur sitting in a 10-25 nl game is more profitable then during a 5.50 sng. That kind of luck is a huge factor when cards are compared to stakes ambiguously and the skill of choosing the stakes is inadvertant unless maintaining consistency is regarded as a skill. Also losing as a 4 to 1 dog for 80% of ur stack in a tourney and the doubling through twice on suckouts seem to mathematically equate you, but your stack even after two lucky triumphs has not bee replaced. Not only the games, but the timing of the hands in succession is a luck factor.

So my theory I suppose mirrors in some regard the evolutionary debate of nature vs nurture. While luck is a factor, it appears to be a multiple that is put into your skill level. In fact worse players will recieve more from luck than better players, soley because they are alotted more oppurtunities. How many would-be suckouts have skilled players missed for folding in the right spots? Those were luck oppurtunities that were foiled because of skill. Folding tptk to bottom two is a skill but if the board comes running kings that hand was yours and only the novice will reap that benefit. I feel that skill exponentially decreasing while luck is linearly decreasing giving the appearance that in fact as you get better luck plays MORE of a factor. If you are choosing yours spots better, then you are losing all of your suck out oppurtunities while your opponents are capatalizing on thiers. This is NOT TO SAY that you are losing because your opponents are lucky, it is only to say that your wins are attributed to skill and their wins are attributed to luck or vice versa, their losses are attributed to lack of skill while your losses are attributed to lack of luck. Beginner's luck is not a superstition it is a mathematical phenomenon.

Wow that was quite a diatribe I wonder if anyone is still reading. The moral of the story is that while many say that poker has a large factor of luck, what it in fact has is a large middleground of race situations. 19 to 1 horses hit all the time, Floridia was a 45 to 1 dog to win the NCAA this year, when was the last time u were a 45 to 1 favorite in a poker while it apppears that your 7 to 3 edge getting snapped is unlucky, unfortunately it is a mathematical certainty, and by not embracing your 30% oppurtunity. you're winning 70% of the time after all the cards are dealt when you are a favorite and losing 100% of the time when you are an undedog if you make all the right plays (pot odds considered etc.) But your opponent is winning 30% of your hands and 100% of his, 65% of hands to your 35% he has a 2 to 1 luck edge, but fortunately your skill edge is greater than that. So in my mind that means that skill plays in this scenario at least over a 2 to 1 edge over luck if it is compensating for it plus whatever you are winning. Maybe my math is flawed, but I feel that poker is a skill game, but much like nurture many of the wins attributed to luck, rather than nature or skill is because everyone has a skill level above zero and it is is the difference of skill on an exponential scale over the luck difference on a linear scale...We all share many "poker skills" to be better than the player you either must be more finely tuned in aspects of the game or know pieces of it he has not these debates, luck is a factor yes, but only because most poker players reside in virtually identical enviornments in their poker knowledge and can only be seperated by luck...I think I'm going to try to deduce a mock equation, but I've already rambled on enough and hopefully this will be the first post of many.
Egad! Reading that again really got me thinking, and I try not to think too much. Thanks Matt.

So, how about an Atlantic City blogger gathering. I see that some people would be interested. There is a few hitches. (1) AC is not like Vegas, so we won't be able to get a private tournament. (2) I'm not sure how we would work getting group room rates. (3) I'm really too busy to be setting something up officially.

I love poker and I love blogging, and I would love to meet up with a slew of my fellow bloggers. But I don't want to be the Social Director on this crazy-ass blogger cruise to nowhere. So, if someone would like to step up, please do so, by all means. Keep in mind that the Bash at the Boathouse (see AlCantHang) is in late September. I think the smartest move would be a December date, so that the rooms are cheaper. Otherwise, I have no opinion. Tell me when and give me enough time to get a room and I'm there. Weekends are always preferred, but more expensive.

A funny thing happened on the way to the WPBT final table yesterday...I actually made it. Last night, I played in the WPBT Horse tournament and placed in 5th out of 33 players. In my last hand, I succumbed to my usual way of losing these things, pushing with my 9-high Razz hand with a shortstack on the initial round of betting. Of course, we had just started the Stud portion of the game, so my hand was utter crap. It didn't help when CJ from UpForPoker had three of a kind Kings rolled up. I suck! But I outlasted a bunch of other players and made some money, so go me! I think I like these limit tournaments because they don't allow me to lose all of my money to donk-headed action. Instead, I can futz around for 2 levels and still have enough to screw down when the blinds become imposing.

This wasn't my only MTT success this weekend. On Saturday afternoon, after wifey Kim and I spent the morning at the gyms (me at the free gym in our building, and wifey Kim at the Gold's Gym across the street) and an afternoon of shopping and putting up shelves, I sat down to a 29 person SNG on PokerShare and placed 2nd. I cannot tell you how well I was playing. It was like everything clicked...until we were heads up.

Lest I think that my heads up play needs work, I won three straight games last night. The first was against Veneno. The second and third were against two random suckers. The last one gave me the hardest time, as I moved from the earlier $10 HU SNGs to a $20. I still took it down though, after a marathon of a game.

I'm very proud of one hand in particular. I had been raising every freaking hand and every card (or at least 80% of every hand/card). I held A9 and bet. I got a call. The flop was Q9x, with two clubs, and I bet. I got a call. The turn was a blank and I bet. He called. The river completed the flush, but also gave me 2 pair. Now, normally, I raise here without concern for the flush, especially after he checks to me. But my spidey sense was tingling and I checked the river. Sure enough, he showed 4c5c and won the hand. More often than not, though, I'd lose a lot more money than I ultimately did. I just knew that river card screwed me, even though I had no actual indications.

My winning streak ended, by the way. I think I reached 8 days in a row, before I won about $50 last night, and in a late desperate attempt to grind off some more PokerShare bonus, lost $100 playing 1/2 NL. I just wasn't playing well, and I shouldn't have even started it up. Lesson learned, until next time, of course.

I finished the Peter Alson book, Take Me to the River. I have to say, it is a farging great book. I highly recommend it once it's out in stores. I also will probably read the other books from Atria. It's refreshing to read a poker book that is about the game, but not about how to play the game. I'm still feeling like the how to books are not really in my best interest right now. Really though, it's just that those How To books just don't keep my interest long enough to be useful, and I half-adopt their ideas, hurting my usual game.

I saw the Stacked TV special on MTV. More accurately, I watched the last 10 minutes while flipping around randomly. I have to say, though, that from what I saw, the Special was a good one. Negreanu discussed some tips about stereotyping/reading players. He also came across well, and in general, the game of poker came across as more of a fun-time game than a degenerate's way of life. This is good, people! I want these MTV kids to think that poker is cool (after all Ryan Cabrera and some dude from one of those "punk" bands played an SNG with Negreanu). Young kids thinking poker is cool = more players in the future. The reason why poker is not going to die out, at least for another 4 years, is simple: young people are waiting in the wings for their 21st birthday just to join the poker brigade. I'm sure many of them are playing online right now. So, we got a lot of new players coming up to fill any void by the "fad" players. Frankly, though, I don't think anything so addicting, um, I mean engaging, could ever be a "fad." Let's at least hope not.

And I think I'm done. I'm going to AC later this week, so until then, I'll just be dreaming about Thursday.

posted by Jordan @ 2:20 PM,


At 3:37 PM, Blogger Karol said...

Resorts Thursday tournament again?

At 4:36 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Ah! I'm probably going to have to pass. However, if you are going to play a tournament at the Resorts, just head over to the Showboat for the $40+10 every weekday (maybe not Friday, I'm not sure) at 11am and 7pm or thereabouts. The structure is great, with 20 min, slowly escalating blinds. And the room is much better than Resorts, which is really just a roped off section by a bunch of loud slots.

I wish I could play in that tourney, but wifey Kim comes first this time around.

At 4:51 PM, Blogger CC said...

I haven't been able to post a comment for two weeks here for some reason, so I'll give it a go again. Good stuff on luck and the firestorm it created. I had something Saturday on it, but your stuff and the resulting thoughts were great. Also, email me at with your address. Your book is the last one I have to send.

At 7:00 PM, Blogger Jimmy said...

Great idea about A.C. in the winter. Hopefully someone can make it work. When are you going to be up there this week. I think I'll be at the Taj on Saturday if you are in the area and want to sling some cards.

At 7:03 PM, Blogger GaryC said...

Yeah, you're right, AC will be fun, but you are missing out on Okie-Vegas this weekend, remember?

I need your cell number for dial-a-shots by the way.

Oh, and that's some good stuff on the Luck Conundrum J, very good read.


At 7:24 PM, Blogger Pseudo_Doctor said...

liked the stuff on luck found it real interesting...also I'm gonna be in AC june 15-19 so if your gonna be there around then let me know im gonna stay at the borgota most likely

At 8:32 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Here's the general deal. If you want to get meet up in AC, just shoot me an email at highonpokr (no E) AT yahoo DOT commando. Include your cell number, so I can call you.

This trip, however, is really about wifey Kim, so I don't know if I'll be able to play much poker. All that said, if I can, I will. Prez, I plan on leaving AC on Saturday morning, and I can't think of how I could leave wifey Kim to meet up with you (and since she doesn't play poker, I wouldn't necessarily want to bring her along). But hopefully we can meet up soon.

As for an AC blogger trip, maybe I'll just choose a date, announce it in advance, and go to AC with my boys. If others want to join, they can, no fuss. Make your own way, swap cell phones, and meet up at the card room du jour.


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