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Community Knowledge

On a recent episode of the Circuit, Cardplayer's podcast hosted by Gavin Smith, Joe Sebok and Scott Huffman, special guest Howard Lederer discussed his history at the Mayfair Club, and underground poker room in NYC (now defunct), which saw the likes of Eric Seidel, Dan Harrington, and a slew of other professional poker players when they were first introduced to the game of Hold'em.

As Lederer explained, at the time, the games at Mayfair ranged from Backgammon to Rummy, but had Texas Hold'em was still a new concept. When it was introduced, none of the players had any real idea of how to play. There weren't poker books around yet, and so the players had to learn on the fly. One of the things that helped was that the Mayfair Club was frequented by game experts, albeit in other games like dominos, and the aforementioned backgammon and rummy. But games are games, so these pros took to Hold'em and began to figure things out on the fly. After playing from 4pm (the close of the stock exchange) until 1am, it was not uncommon for the future name-brand pros to go to the bar and discuss the game at length. As a result, the players lifted themselves up communally, each providing insight and challenging each other.

To Lederer, this is a crucial part of becoming a great poker player, having a network of people with whom you can discuss the concepts behind the game. Granted, this is now a lot more easily available, since the average joe can walk into any Borders book store and gain the knowledge of most of the world's top pros for under $30. But there is still something extra that comes from back and forth discussion.

In my personal life, this is the Hole home game, where we play but also discuss the game. I can sit with Roose and Hole and we can help each other by analyzing play or confirming our supsicions.

But I also have another community that I can go to for this Community Knowledge. Poker blogging. Frankly, it's probably the number one best use of the blogging community. Sure, it is fun to read about a blogger's trials and pursuits. I'm as voyueristic as the next guy (and probably a bit moreso), so a blog that lets me into the life of it's author usually makes it to the top of my list easily. But the other aspect, the thing that probably helps bloggers be as good as they are, is the opportunity for discourse, sometimes one-way when a blogger posts an insightful hand or analysis of the game, and often an exchange, when other bloggers/readers respond in comments or in their own blogs.

So, heil to the bloggers, for sharing their thoughts, their knowledge and their community. Maybe we can be the new "Mayfair Club," and in years time people will be saying, "Did you know x, y and z used to write blogs (or still do) and met up in Vegas twice a year to drink and play poker, and now they are all big time pros?" Hell, even if that doesn't happen, at least I can sleep at night confident that some blogger somewhere is fleecing a donkey of his bankroll.

posted by Jordan @ 12:26 PM,


At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jordan, very disappointed not to have been able to meet you out in Vegas this past weekend. I hope you'll be able to make the next one.

At 9:04 AM, Blogger Jordan said...

I'm going to do my best to make it to the Boathouse, if you'll be there pii.

At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got a link for the details?

At 1:37 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Look up Al Can't Hang for the Bash at the Boathouse info.

I WILL be there for that :)

At 3:15 PM, Blogger CC said...

In my interviews with established and up-and-coming pros, it seems to be a fairly universal trait that they have a network to provide support, as well as work through things. I don't have that necessarily, but it would be powerful to create a crew that could analyze one another's stats/PokerTracker stuff, observe one another, etc. There are some working as we speak, showing up at a house and playing under the watchful eye of a mentor.

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Thanks for all the comments, including new commentor chi_town. Clearly, sharing knowledge is crucial to expanding on ones game. It's an interesting thing, though, since the game supposedly is one in which you stand on your own and everyone is your enemy. We all know that it is not true though. To an extent, when the cards are dealt, it is every man for himself. But when you have friends and confidants around, you can then walk away from the table (or sometimes sit at the table) and really talk about what this game is about. Mind you, this is also the reason why I don't understand bloggers who don't talk strategy for fear of giving others a read on their play. I mean, 99.99% of the people I play with (online, predominantly) don't know my blog. On that note, I don't begrudge any blogger who doesn't like to share. To each his own


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