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To Beat the Best

From time to time, I get press releases sent to me by poker-affiliated PR people who have stumbled across this den of iniquity. Most of the time, I don't mention them here because, frankly, the press release doesn't interest me. But I recently heard through a press release that the PokerStars online qualifier to the NBC Heads Up Championship (not to be confused with the Heads-Up Challenge) will be playing Phil Ivey in the first round.

I won't profess to have a knowledge of professional poker players other than what little information I've picked up from the media. But whatever the case, I think you would be hard pressed to argue that Phil Ivey is not one of the best poker players alive, if not the best.

Now, that being said, I imagine that there will be players in the HU Championship that are much less well known, and are probably less experienced and/or skilled, when compared to Ivey.

So the question I pose to you is, if you were the online qualifier going into the HU Championship, would you rather play someone who is considered the best or would you hope for a softer first round?

My personal opinion is that I would rather play a top dog like Ivey. Plain and simple, HU poker can be very luck-dependent. First off, all-in confrontations are more likely, since hand values increase. Second, once all-in, even if Ivey is skilled enough only to get you all-in when he is way ahead, at most he will only be a 80/20 favorite on any given hand (admittedly, he could have better odds in certain situations, like if you call his all-in with 23o and he has AA, but you aren't that stupid, are you?).

All I am trying to say is that HU poker does have a luck element. If you get hit with the deck, you can run over any opponent. It is true in other poker formats, but less so, since more players means more competition, naturally.

Beyond that, it's not an easy thing to win a HU tournament. You may be able to luckbox one round, but to go the distance, you will need incredible luck and skill. If that's the case, then I want my glory immediately. Beating Ivey in the first round as an unknown is a great notch on the ole poker belt. Knocking out Jason Alexander, on the other hand (and yes, he is in the competition), while fun, is a lot less impressive. I'm all for the glory, if you are going to be playing on a national stage against world-renowned players.

So, what say you? Would you rather play against a big-name pro who may be the best in the field, or a lesser-known player with a weaker reputation? Remember, there are no "soft" players in this field.

On a personal note, I'm going through some rough poker times, lately. I'm losing left and right, to the point that I am down about $400 for 2008, well behind my goals for the year. I'm not concerned about my annual goal, since these things are like roller coasters and I'm just in the middle of a dip, but it's a bit taxing on the psyche. Overall, I'm playing well. I just find that I am coming across the usual pitfalls, with bad beats aplenty. That, and the bad beats have caused me to lose my rhythm, generally speaking.

What does this all mean? Only that it is a bit tough to write and read about poker right now. I don't expect to play in many of the BBThree games right now with my sad FT bankroll (Bodog and Stars are still decently sized). I want to play more often live, partially because I feel that the lack of live games has hurt my live play. But even that is a stretch.

Poker is a bitch, but she's a hot bitch and I'm a horndog.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 1:15 AM,


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