Monday, March 06, 2006

Ray Zee and Me

Over the weekend, I posted some rants. That is kind of my release valve. It always interests me which posts will be well read, which will be panned and which will be flamed. Oddly enough, the posts that I put very little real "work" into, and just pound out, are usually the best received (no matter how controversial).

Fortunately, a post that I put a ton of work into, the Stud post (part one), was given a thumbs up by Ray today, so that makes me feel good. It was very tough for me to write that post, because Stud is a big subject to tackle. I had many objectives while writing it. First, I wanted to make sure that beginners could understand it (still not sure if I succeeded there). Second, I wanted it to flow well (definitely bombed on that one). And last, I wanted to be able to get my point across about one of the factors which led to the demise of Stud being the extra betting round (complications of the game itself; I think I tackled this one okay).

Not many casual players know who Ray Zee is. I met him through his Stud book, and later through Two Plus Two. He doesn't play much poker anymore, and lives on a ranch in Montana. He is very well respected on the Two Plus Two forums, but not many people really know him, nor do they get to know him.

The difference between cash game players and tournament players has always been vast. Some players are able to cross the lines liberally and are recognized as being in both worlds. This is a very small minority, btw.

Tournament players seem to get all of the recognition. Barry has written about this many times, as well as talked about it during interviews. He has never felt it was correct to overlook cash game players, while glorifying tournament players.

In my experience, cash game players are better "players," overall, but have worse personalities and habits. Tournament players seem to have an unwritten code of ethics, yet do not adjust well to cash games. It is a horrible, catch-22 situation for some people (me), in the fact that I have many friends on the tourney circuit, yet prefer these days to play cash games only.

Ray is the epitome of the unrecognized cash game player. I have heard many rumors about him being considered the best (or one of the best) cash game players in the world, before his retirement. I have seen many people regard him as "the best" Stud player. "The best" Stud 8 player, etc. I wouldn't know, because he keeps a very low profile, and hasn't played seriously in years (perhaps he has played some anonymously, but if he does, he has kept it quiet). Old timers remember Ray with reverence, for his prowess of the game of poker, and his past accomplishments. Ray never seemed to get into tournaments seriously, nor did he seem to have any desire whatsoever to be in the top cash game player spotlight.

I am kind of a chameleon when it comes to the poker world. I am comfortable playing micro-limits online, and I am comfortable taking a 10k stake with me to a 40/80 game. I do not "need" to play high limits to prove anything to anyone. I don't talk much about my wins, nor my losses. After so many years, I hate hearing players talk about the same, so I don't torture others, lol.

I don't seek out TV games, either. Not only am I not TV material, but I simply don't want to be on TV at all. I don't want my name in magazines or in the spotlight. I have no desire whatsoever to be well known.

Yet, I do hang around the tourney circuit players. There I feel like I belong, I feel comfortable. Sort of like the feeling I have on Two Plus Two. It's just a feeling of belonging, that I just about fit in ;)

When I played mostly low-limit cash games and small buy-in tourneys, I always thought that the tourney players were even more scummy and disgusting than the cash game players. As I moved up, however, I found that the serious, professional tourney circuit players were actually better people (in general).

The higher limits I played, the worse the cash game player. They are mostly sub-human to me. I don't like them, I don't want to be around them, I am not friends with them. Since I have never played above 50/100, I'm not sure about the culture of the higher limit players. I do know that those who cross lines between tourneys and cash games are mostly good people (Barry, Ted, Jenn, Chip, Doyle, etc).

So I am always at a cross-roads when it comes to poker culture. I like the tourney players best, yet I don't have any real desire to play in them anymore. I know where my bread is buttered. I am a nut peddler. I am a grinder and like to trap. I'm perfect for low limit games and Stud games. I can consistently make money in Omaha over a myriad of limits. I'm not that good, not very bright and I know my limitations (although it did take me years to finally admit defeat when it comes to big buy-in events).

I guess in my perfect world, I would be traveling around with the tourney pros, but only to play the cash games. I would work myself up to higher limits, but not HIGH limits, in which I could never truly compete. This way I would have the benefit of being around a better class of people (only playing when there is a big festival going on), yet making some steady money playing poker.

Nothing is perfect, however, and that is why the recreational community may never have heard of Ray Zee, and will never hear of Felicia Dyer.

Felicia :)