Saturday, June 10, 2006

Crash and Burn

Well, another oldie and goodie has bit the dust and decided to turn their festival into an ALL HOLD'EM, ALL THE TIME event. This year both Mirage and Commerce bowed to mo' dollas. I wasn't planning on attending the California State Championship this year anyway, but it sure is sad to see poker being defined as NLHE.
In that same vein, Glenn's latest post reminded me of the many times I have seen new, Hold'em specialists crash and burn.

Howard Lederer said it best when he warned the poker community to specialize at their own peril. I could never say it as well, nor do I have his reputation so that people will listen, but I have long said that once the current boom is over, what is going to be left?

Don't get me wrong, poker will survive. Always has. It might be just a shadow of what we have been experiencing in the past few years, but it will be there. And I truly believe that Hold'em will always be the prominent game in casino poker. I just wonder what will happen to the great games, and if we will go back to scratching like chickens just to survive.

Anyone can win a tournament. Anyone can be "hot" for a year or two and tear up the tourney circuit. We've all seen it. Seen it many times over the years. I get asked all the time, "Hey, what happened to so-and-so who was so hot back in 1999? I haven't seen or heard of him for years!"

And so the crash and burn. The biggest mistake that I see new, hot players make is that they suddenly believe they are the best thing since sliced bread after winning an event or two in short order. This is probably the worst thing that can happen to a young, new player. He's the hot item in town and getting tons of offers, attention, accolades, TV exposure. He convinces himself he is a poker god, and can do no wrong.

I remember playing at a big festival back in late summer 2004. A new 22 year old was playing, and a guy sitting beside him was chatting it up with him.

"Yeah, with the way you're running, you should enter all of the events. You could have a shot for best overall player and earn even more."

The young god bristled, "Are you kidding? I wouldn't play anything except NLHE! Those other games are bogus. They are for kids and old men. REAL poker is no-limit Hold'em."

Long-time pro tried to be polite, "Don't you think it's dangerous to make sweeping statements like that? It could wreck someone to specialize in one form of one game and refuse to learn any others, if for no other reason than to get better at their specialty by excelling in general poker ability."

Hot pro was offended, "Don't you know who I am? Haven't you seen me on TV? I have won hundreds of thousands of dollars this year playing NLHE! How much have you won? You don't know what you're talking about! Poker IS Hold'em and that is all there is to it. You old guys are living in a fantasy world. We are going to take over and you will be left behind because of your refusal to adapt to the new poker situation!"

The young guy cashed in one event during this festival. Bombed out of the rest of the NLHE events. And was virtually dead in the water for the next 18 months.

I saw him again, now aged 24. Head down, a lot more humble. Claimed he had some kind of backing deal now, and had to get a real job off and on during the past year. Did some quasi-illegal activities, according to those expose websites that abound these days.

Suddenly the young poker god didn't seem so omnipotent anymore. Much matured, much weathered, grinding out both big and smaller tourneys, playing some mixed games on the side. Kept his mouth shut. I didn't talk to him, but I could imagine the type of conversation we would have had if I'd brought it up..."Wow, I wish I'd listened to that guy back then. He's been around the poker scene for twenty years. Instead of writing him off, I wish I'd done some studying and opened up a little bit, instead of blowing all of my winnings within six months after the series. I even had to sell my bracelet. That sucked. I thought I was unbeatable. I thought I'd continue to win forever. I never thought I'd actually have to play a cash game, or play anything other than NLHE. I figured I was set for life. Who would have thought that six months later I was dead broke? That guy has supported himself even during the deadest days of poker, and I blew him off like some jackass. I was a moron, a fool."

I see young guys burn themselves out so quickly. It seems to happen overnight. On both 2+2 and poker blogs, they will win one, two, three big tourneys (or make a really high final table finish) and then strut round like false gods. They won't listen to anyone. They are way above poker advice. They use their recent results to try to convince people who have been around a long time that they are omnipotent. It's sad to see the eventual crash. Suddenly their nicknames aren't around anymore on 2+2. Blogs are shut down. Online poker sites they had an agreement with drop their name as one of the "pros."

I think probably one of the worst things that can happen is for a new player to go on a heater. It takes him much longer to recover, if he ever does, when he starts out so hot.

I remember when I went on a heater at the Belle. Seemed like every tournament I either won, or cashed in. It was so consistent that a group of regulars even petitioned the CRM to have me ejected as an "obvious cheat."

Thank God these were only small events. Or I might have never recovered. I also knew that it wasn't so much my skill at poker, as their awfulness at it, lol. I also had my cash game past to bolster me during the rough times. I did, however, fall into the trap of playing almost all tourneys, all the time. Talk about burn-out! Not only did I cool off, but I started playing more cautiously, more tight, more guarded. I got incredibly bored, especially with Hold'em. And my cash game play suffered. And on and on. Every year I was struggling to make up the deficit of my tourney entries by grinding cash games. What a horrible way of life.

It's better to be a guy who stays humble, stays grounded, cashing or winning here and there, gradually rising in the poker world, than to start so hot and then crash.

Felicia :)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Technology of the Future, an Update

Dang, I love being right. If I say something positive and encouraging, I absolutely LOVE it when I'm correct. Of course, if I predict something negative and it comes to fruition, I hate being right.

I remember a loooooong time ago when I first heard about dealerless poker tables. Like almost everyone else on 2+2, I was appalled. But then I opened my mind and started thinking of the possibilities. I really put aside my gag-reflex about the whole idea, and tried to think positively.

Increase game speed by 50%? Decrease angle-shooting? Eliminate cheating (for the most part. Some cheaters will always find a way)? Keep games like Stud and Omaha alive and FAST?

Maybe this wasn't such a bad deal after all.

I have never seen one of these machines, nor played at one, but I am ecstatic to report that many players who have tried them are feeling the same way I do.

This is NOT internet poker. It's nothing like internet poker at all. That is the first thing I thought of, hence the biggest reason for my gag reflex, lol. I don't like internet poker, never have, so why would I support anything even vaguely similar?

It is still LIVE poker. You still have an opponent on your left, and one on your right. Maybe the guy on your right still stinks like he always did ;)

You will still have tells, telegraphing (albeit a bit different than before), WPT kids, table talk and everything else you have come to love about live poker.

What you won't have is misdeals, buttons in the wrong place, chip palming, stealing, dealers taking five minutes to change decks, count down decks, count down their box, get fills, make change, etc (this is not their fault and a necessary evil of a live dealer, absolutely no offense intended, that's just the way it is).

Yes, there will be bugs. Yes, there will still be some kid staring you down for two minutes while he decides if it's worth it to call your $2.00 raise. But hopefully the bugs will work out over time. Idealistically, the machines will be so smooth and so fantastic that every cardroom will want one.

I pity dealers who will be out of work, but let's be realistic, the best ones will ALWAYS have a job and always have a place to go. They will be either in the poker room or in the pit, but they will always be making good money.

I was ecstatic to read a real, live, honest report of these machines by another blogger. Just a regular guy, a yahoo like the rest of us (not a "paid" poker superstar whose best interest is to hype the machine).

Thanks, Falstaff, and please feel free to contribute to this thread, as I will continue to monitor and contribute to yours.

Felicia :)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Assumptions, Carnivals and Dealers

It's amazing how long a first impression can last. Or even a false assumption. I am very guilty of this myself. I tend to form hard, fast opinions on things that aren't necessarily true. I try mightily to either keep my mind open or to reassess an assumption (or opinion) as time moves on, but I believe that it's human nature to latch onto something, then stick to it, no matter what. Horrible, horrible human nature.

So it should come as no surprise to me, but still does, that people assume so many things about me that just aren't true at all.

In the past, all I heard was "You only play tournaments, you never play cash games." Um, okay.

These days I hear, "You hate tournaments, you hate tournament players, you only support cash game play." Um, okay.

In the past I heard, "You hate Hold'em and will only play Stud." Um, okay.

Now I hear, "You hate Hold'em and will only play Omaha." Um, okay.

I have heard, over the years, various assumptions about the way I play. Here is one by two totally different players in the same tournament, "You are a rock." "You are a maniac." This is a good thing, btw. This was back in the days when I could adjust easily playing tourneys (I no longer posses this skill, unfortunately).

Today Drizz thought that my head would explode because of a quote by Phil Hellmuth, "Hold'em is to poker what G-5's are to airplanes --- the biggest, fastest, and best!!"

Given the context that Phil was talking about (again, I'm making assumptions, but that is my only choice in this circumstance) I do not disagree with this quote at all. I assume he was talking about his own place in the poker world; large buy-in tourneys, low juice, multiple event festivals. If that is the case, it's a no-brainer.

Lots of people hate Phil. Most people don't even know him. I don't claim to know him either. In person, he seems like an okay guy. Nice, friendly. Some social awkwardness, like most poker players. I think that he is likely telling the truth when he says that he started the whole whining shtick as a way to overcompensate for a low self-esteem. I tend to think that the reason he continues it today is partially because it is so ingrained and he cannot help himself, and partially to keep focus on HIM. It surely does. He could have faded into the background like so many other former champions. Instead, everyone still talks about Phil, for good or for bad.

He's really an okay guy away from the tables, from everything I've witnessed. Huge, sweeping assumptions can be dangerous. For me, and for everyone else.
Bill Rini is perhaps trying to raise the bar on Poker Blogging. In my most generous, benefit of the doubt, positive "assumption," I'm going to credit Bill with having the best of intentions with his Carnival idea.

Maybe he is just as sick as I am about certain expert bloggers not getting any attention at all, while the snippy, gossipy, back-stabbing, ego-stroking, Mr. Popular, American, non-controversial, recreational bloggers get all of the accolades from their "friends" who write up these Best Of awards.

Yes, I am assuming an awful lot, but I'd like to give Bill the benefit of the doubt that he has EVERYONE'S best interests at heart, and would like to showcase individual posts that make certain bloggers the real BEST OF out there.

When I write up and publish my favorites, one thing I try to never, ever do, is leave someone off because I don't like him. My personal like or dislike of the blogger has nothing to do with whether his blog is great, or shite.

I don't care if he is or is not controversial. I don't care if he has me linked or not. I don't care if he likes ME. I don't care if he is American or not. I don't care if he is male or female. I don't care if he is "popular" or not.

Yes, personal bias is still going to come into play. No list like this is going to be totally objective. Sure, I'm going to choose more serious blogs, in general, than "harharlaughitupfuzzball, I'm losing my buy-in every night" blogs. That is personal preference. I cannot be completely objective when publishing MY list, nor can any of these other Best Of writers. But I try to be at least somewhat objective. I don't sit around listing my "friends," when I know that their blogs suck.

Anyway, if you are interested, please go over to Bill's blog and submit your best posts, or someone else's best posts. That way individual posts, not individual bloggers are getting the credit for their great work, and hopefully we can look beyond the poster as a whole.
A newish blogger on the scene had a quote that I got a great kick out of today :

"I still really don't get it when people complain about how badly their opponents played and still beat them. To me a beat is a beat, being outplayed or outdrawn doesn't make a difference to me, except in the ways I play against that opponent the next time."

Ah, the times, they are a changin'. Thank God.
Please feel free to skip the rest of this post and stop right here if you are not a dealer, not interested in becoming a dealer, or not interested in reading about dealer issues.

I have long wanted to talk about dealers. I think I have several, uncompleted posts, but I'm too lazy to go back through the archives and read them.

Many dealers would say that I am anti-dealer. That I am too hard on some of them and give them grief. I think that most dealers, however, know that I am very pro-dealer. I am often subtly encouraging my tablemates to tip (some have never played live and truly have no clue). When I am in a tournament where nothing, or very little is taken from the prize pool for dealers, and I see that they are being given the shaft, I usually rally the players who cashed together for some extra tipping in order to make it worth the time of the dealers and the cardrooms to spread good, well structured tournaments. It is in my best interest to keep the cardroom open to good ideas and good tournaments. It is in my best interest to keep the dealers happy, fast and accurate.

I also joke around to sometimes take the heat off of a dealer. If a dealer starts screwing up (and this happens a lot, we are all human) and I notice the table getting more and more tense and angry, I start some kind of shtick, which to the outside observer, or maybe even a dealer with horrible self-confidence, might look like I'm giving him trouble. In truth, I'm trying to cool things off at the table. Once again, it's in my best interest. It has little to do with protecting the dealer, it has to do with my own bottom line.

When it comes to abuse, however, I DO go out of my way to protect dealers. I call the floorman, I absolutely put a complete stop to dealer abuse, and do not tolerate it at all. I don't care if I'm in California and it's the norm, I don't care if the entire table is against me and it hurts my bottom line, it is the correct thing to do ethically and I will stand up to anyone who tries to abuse a dealer. It matters not that the abuser might be considered a world-class player. I will take him on and have. He may be a world-class player, but he sure isn't a world-class human being if he has to stoop to being verbally and/or physically abusive to a dealer!

Obviously taking a stand against abusive players is NOT in my best interest. I'll just say that again for you, because I have been in some horrible situations. My worst nightmare in dealer abuse came true at the Razz series event in 2004. I was sitting at a table with some well-known players. Howard Lederer, Dennis Waterman, Nick Frangos, Ernie Cobb, Sam Grizzle, etc. Everyone had a bracelet or three except me, lol.

The bummer was John Bonetti. He bragged about killing people back when he was in the mob. He abused almost every dealer who entered the box. He abused other players and purposely tried to "cut" dealers with his cards (zinging them into the dealers hand or chest). He laughed at them and called them every name in the book, especially when they took his abuse personally. He cursed at them, and everyone else at the table over and over again.

I complained three times. Nothing was done. Finally, I went to some people who had influence. Jan Fisher, Linda Thompson and Mike Sexton. I had to get them during a break. With their influence (not just some brand new, green yahoo like me), finally he was given some very stern warnings and told to STFU. He pretty much did this, but busted out not long after, unable to keep himself from steaming off all of his chips after being warned.

Throughout this five hour ordeal of hell, not one of the aforementioned players did anything, to my knowledge. Of course, after he was busted, a couple of them were embarrassed and tried to claim they talked to a TD about it, but I never saw this, nor did Glenn, who was sweating my table the entire five hours.

So this is something that I feel very strongly about, and I wish that more well respected players would take seriously. No dealer deserves to be "cut" because he or she dealt someone blanks. It is not the dealers fault if the player is running badly, playing badly or steaming. Don't take it out on a dealer in my presence, or I WILL get you 86'd, you can count on that.

Now, with all of this dealer kiss butt, I have to turn my attention to the present situation of dealers and what they can do to make things better for themselves, and to make more money.

I truly, 100% have their best interests at heart when I say these things, and I think readers might actually agree with me if they have really read and comprehended what I wrote previously.

First of all, if you want to increase your speed, accuracy and salary, read Mason Malmuth's book. Get it from your CRM, the library, or buy it on ebay for $2.00. I don't care how you get it, but get that book and memorize it, live by it.

You may not like Mason, and he probably doesn't care. You may hate him, his tone, his attitude and everything associated with him, but be realistic, he is your best chance to virtually doubling your income and enduring a heck of a lot less grief at the tables.

In my honest, most blunt and candid opinion, dealers should be like robots. Don't get all huffy, offended and click away. I am saying this because I like you, I want the best for you, I watched my Mom go through torture over the past fifteen years, I watched Glenn slowly increase his earnings until he was the top earner at River Palms and finally: this is the approach I, personally would take to dealing if I were in the box. If I think it's good enough for ME, then believe me, I'm not putting you down.

Dealing should be like a computer, a machine, a robot. No human "emotional" qualities whatsoever.

In general, it seems like players take out their frustration online by abusing other players in chat. Players take out their frustration in a B&M room by abusing the dealer. The dealer probably won't strike back, whereas a player might, it could be dangerous to abuse other players.

I have seen a dealer take it personally and pick up his heavy chair, striking the player over the head/back with it after a player punched him, but on the whole, most dealers are too shocked and horrified to take this kind of action (I would, lol).

My Mom has been struck from in front and behind, kicked, slapped, had cards thrown at her hands, chest and face, had drinks flung in her face, been elbowed from behind, been burned with cigarettes and of course has been verbally abused. Many of these things were tolerated up until the turn of the century, and are still tolerated in some cardrooms.

My Mom took a passive/aggressive approach to this abuse by playing dirty tricks on players like mucking their unprotected hands, reading hands incorrectly, "accidentally" dealing someone out, etc.

I do not advocate either approach (neither tolerating it, nor the dirty tricks).

I advocate what I call the robot approach.

First get it into your head: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU!

It is never, ever about you. It is about him, and his horrible day, horrible run, horrible life, horrible wife, horrible playing and anything else you can think up. It never had anything to do with you and it never will, unless you make it about you. That is the very worst thing you can do. Don't take it personally, don't make it about you, and you will save yourself SO much grief.

Does this mean you should tolerate abuse? Heck no! No, no, no, never. Instead, let the input hit you like it would a computer.

What happens when someone tries to curse at a computer "dealer" online? Maybe the word is blocked, maybe the word goes to support, maybe it is starred out. The computer usually rejects the word. The player is reported and his chat is suspended or revoked. Sometimes he is banned from the site altogether if he is a serial abuser.

You can take a lesson from this. Do NOT compute! Call the floor. Like a computer alert when it senses something it cannot comprehend. Don't take it on yourself, call the floor. Be objective, be truthful, be accurate and report what is said. Report it like a computer would report it, with no bias, no elaboration and no drama. Let the floor handle it. That way, you are never the bad guy. Let the floor take the heat, that is what he is there for. Your tips won't diminish, they might even increase (if a dealer is THAT good and objective, I tend to increase his tips, double or even triple versus his co-dealers).

I am not rewarding the dealer for being objective, I am rewarding him for not taking it upon himself and wasting our time, not creating drama, not allowing the abuse, keeping the hands cranking out instead of stalling the game for minutes, and a myriad of other reasons.

The better you are, the more I'm going to tip you. And everyone, everyone who knows me knows that I am a tightwad. So it is in your best interest to not take anything personally and just call the floor. Boom, no decision, no heat, game over.

Taking things personally will slow up the game, cause your blood pressure to explode, cause everyone else to get into the mess, cause the game to go to crap, make you look like the bad guy, cause you to make mistake after mistake and so many other negatives that I could list them all day. Don't fall into this trap!

Do you realize that the abusive player wants to snare you? He wants you to argue with him. He wants you to banter back and forth so that he has reason to continue his abuse. He absolutely does not want you to call the floor. He would rather you be silent and ignore him so that he can continue the abuse, or for you to engage. Calling the floor kills his action and makes him look like the azzhole that he is.

It's not about you. It never is. Don't compound his mistake by making one of your own.

Be pleasant, smile, be cordial, be competent, be gracious when tipped, but never, ever engage these idiots. You are a much better person than these scumbags. Rise above it, don't stoop to their level.

Now that we have the biggest issue out of the way, what about when you make a mistake? Once again, be that robot.

You are going to have horrible nights. You are going to have misdeals, exposed cards, buttons moved twice and a virtual avalanche of other dealing problems. This doesn't have to be the nightmare that some dealers make it.

As soon as you make a mistake, and someone says something, just stop. Don't take it personally. He or she is not out to get you. It is NOT about you, nor is it even your dealing. Don't be defensive, don't lie about the situation, just stop and call the floor. Game over.

Obviously be very quick about this, when you need to call the floor. Don't slow down the game no matter what.

There are many situations where you do not need to call the floor. If you know proper procedure, you will be able to fix the error yourself with very little drama. Don't make it into a nightmare, just say thanks to the player who pointed it out, and get back to work. Don't argue with the player, don't get defensive, don't fight, use your head.

The biggest problem I have at the tables with dealers taking things personally is when I am trying to do the ethical thing, and they still argue with me. Button was moved twice, now I am able to skip the big blind and post only the small. Nothing was said by either players or dealer. Maybe the player moved the button (don't do this, please), then the dealer moved it again. Maybe the dealer accidentally moved it twice. It happens, it's part of the game. It's no one's "fault."

But dealers seem to take this more personally than any other problem in the box. They immediately get defensive. So defensive they are arguing and fighting with a player, a player who pays their salary, over some stupid plastic puck. Really, you do not want this.

Use your head. If an observant, long-time player says to you, "Um, I am supposed to be the big blind. The button is wrong," do you really think he is pointing it out in error to his detriment??? This is absurd. Why would a player purposely put himself into the big blind twice? Think for just a nanosecond, use your head.


There is no logical answer. Be a computer..."does not compute..." If it makes no sense, then it is obvious that the player is trying to do the correct, ethical thing!

Why get defensive and argue with your bread and butter??? Why cause drama, a scene, an argument, slow down the game, look like a fool, trying to "reprimand" your own customers?

Just think for a minute, use your head. No one is "out to get you."

Whether your are right, wrong, being abused, being heckled, making mistakes or any other problem at the table, take it like a robot, a computer..."does not compute," and call the floor.

Not only will this make you a perfect dealer, but you will get more hands out per hour, hence more tips, you will be tipped better by regulars, you will be praised and thanked, you will have the pick of any shift, any days, any cardroom, and you will be making a heck of a lot more than any other dealer who doesn't do this. I promise you.

Glenn made an average of $30 per hour when he dealt for ten months. Towards the end of those ten months he was making better. He was fast and silent. He was praised as the "new superstar" on Cardplayer Cruises and invited back carte blanche whenever he wanted to cruise and deal.

Glenn stopped taking things personally and just started cranking out the hands. He stopped chatting, stopped trying to hold conversations in the box, stopped arguing and just called the floor. As soon as he realized that being computer-like was to his advantage, he became the best dealer that the Palms had.

And this was considered the "deadest" cardroom in Laughlin. They have the least business for the number of tables. They are known as the graveyard. Dealers dead spread more than actually deal there.

Through all of this, he still AVERAGED $30 per hour.

Think about it. Think and then lose your "humanness." Your wife, your players, your pocketbook will thank you.

Felicia :)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Another Cop-Out

I absolutely cannot get my brain or motivation in gear to write a good post. I don't know if the desert sun is sucking up my energy or what. I just don't have it this week, I guess.

There are a few things I can talk about, however, both on-topic and off-topic. One is kind of scary, so I'll save that 'til last ;)
Starting off with something light, Iggy reminded me of a faux-pas I made a few years ago while playing against a racist, senior citizen in Laughlin. He shocked the heck out of me when he leaned over and whispered in my ear something I hadn't heard since the last time I'd been in Missouri.

"You know what, I can't stand any of them. I wish they would just take those Indians, Mexicans and niggers and get rid of them!"

So a while later, I was referring to this incident and penned my faux-pas, "Don, as you may remember, is the elderly racist who exposed himself to me last week."

Oops! Sometimes I type so fast, and without editing or proofreading, that I really dig myself into a hole.

Okay, so let's move on, lol.
Another funny topic I got involved in over the weekend was my famous alcohol enema shtick. This is an oldie but goodie (in my mind only), in which I fell into a discussion with some bloggers about trying alcohol ememas. When I saw how absolutely revolted they were, I decided, in my warped mind that I should make it my new shtick. It didn't quite go over as well as I expected, most bloggers being horrified and disgusted rather than just shocked and fumbling around for replies. I guess the gay shtick always seemed to work wonders.

But after all of this time (a year), I still hadn't lost my initial curiosity about getting an alcohol enema.

As a small aside, a while back Mat decided to give the moderators a bonus for our work. He created a forum call the Moderator's Playground, which is run by a different mod each week, and can be whatever subject we wish.

So when the moderator's playground on 2+2 became the alcohol forum, I had to give it a try:

"Has anyone ever tried an alcohol enema?"

I got several serious responses, oddly enough (expected tons of jokes), and then one of the many doctors who frequent 2+2 replied:

"And, the entire blood volume circulates in about 1 minute. So the liver will eventually be given a chance to metabolize the alcohol that you have cleverly shoved up your ass."

He also said some non-funny things, too ;)
Making a smooooooth transition into poker, here is an e-mail I sent to a new LO8 player:

As far as passive vs. aggressive, the best analogy I can give you is that it's like fishing. You sit, sit, sit. Sometimes with your pole in the water and bait on the hook. But you are sitting comfortably, no tension. Then the fish bites, and suddenly you get aggressive with the pole. You pull and reel, pull and reel. You never know you are actually going to get the fish until you unhook him and he is in your bucket, but once he bites you have to do some work.

So in LO8, you sit, sit, sit. Then you are in a hand, and you just passively check/call, check/call, check/call. Sometimes all the way through a hand, sometimes only until the flop. The bigger hand you flop, the more apt you are to start pumping the pot and becoming aggressive.

Right after you flop something good, ask yourself these questions:

1) How many people do I want chasing me right now?

Usually if YOU are in the pot, and have flopped a big hand, it's the nuts. Like the NUT flush, the NUT straight, the NUT full house. So you want chasers.

2) Does my hand have a high chance of being outdrawn or a low one?

You can't help those times when you flop the nut straight, yet there is a flush draw out there. No matter how much you pump the pot, the flush draw will NOT get out. You cannot cut his odds by pumping (in his mind), because it just isn't going to happen. So learn to earn or save a bet here and there when your nut hand is vulnerable.

3) Does this nut hand have any redraws?

This is key. If your nut hand gets outdrawn, you want it to be outdrawn by YOU! This could mean backing into a low for half the pot, going runner for a flush, etc. In those cases, you can put a ton of money into the pot.

But always remember when you are going hog wild and betting and raising like many bets are you really getting BACK when you win?

If by going nuts on the flop or turn, you only managed to make 2.5 big bets, whereas if you had been passive and kept just calling along you would have made 12 big bets, stop beating your chest and just back down. You're in the game to make money, not prove how "aggressive" you are.

This is the one thing that makes players nuts, and also makes the more aggressive, Hold'em players, losers. I see it constantly. Mr. Super Aggro comes sauntering over to the 10/20 O8 game, swaggering along, cocky half smirk on his face, just sure he's going to run over the dumb O8 playes with his "advanced" play and hyper aggressiveness.

Thirty minutes later he finds himself down a grand, and just can't believe it. He keeps cursing the other players, yelling about how they "outdrew" him. Screaming "How could you call with that hand???" He is just sure he outplayed them with his superior Hold'em skills, yet he is the one walking away broke.

I see it every, single time I play O8, bar none. Truly. Sometimes it's because he can't get a seat right away in Hold'em, other times it's because he's spotted us, the "weak" Omaha players. For whatever reason, Hold'em players cannot adjust quickly to Omaha, and get killed with their hyper aggressive play.

Learn to just sit back, passively, and then strike later in the hand. Learn to very, very quickly figure out if you will make more big bets by check-calling, betting out, overcalling or raising. It's not hard to figure out, believe it or not. It's not like Stud, where 20 years later you are still shaking your head in confusion. It just takes a few hundred hands.

Good luck!
You know, after that neato e-mail, I think I'll save the scary OT post for later. It can be it's own subject, and available to friends-only, methinks!

Felicia :)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Poker Potpourri

Today I'm going to play the potpourri girl again. Little bit of everything.
One thing that I haven't really ever talked about here, but is a good idea for those of us who spend way too much time on the internet and often need food ideas in order to keep us fed, are the things Glenn and I eat.

I used to be an ultra-picky eater. I won't list all of my oddities, but using fruit as an example, I'll touch on how weird I was. I didn't like cooked fruit. I didn't want it to be heated in any way whatsoever (I still really don't, but I make some exceptions). I didn't like anything added to my fruit (like sugar) or mixed with it at all. I couldn't stand fruit IN something (like in Jello), nor could I stand it if it had edible seeds. No way I'd ever touch fruit with hair or bumps. So this meant I basically would eat apples, oranges, lemons/limes, some cherries and that is it, unless you count melons. In addition, the apples, oranges, lemons and cherries could not be altered in any way (cooked, soaked, mixed with something, etc).

Okay, so I have opened up quite a bit in the past ten years or so. But I would probably still be considered extremely picky.

I started eating meat maybe five years ago. I had been a vegetarian prior to that (virtually my entire life). If you think I had problems with fruit, my gawd, I could write a book on the problems I had with meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey; I never had a problem with fish or seafood).

When we moved out to Arizona, I was horrified at how dry, gray and tasteless the beef was. I stopped eating it. We eventually started ordering meat from Omaha Steaks. Something about being grass fed versus being grain fed. I'll just say that I thought the beef in the west sucked, and leave it at that.

The problem that I ran into with Omaha, is that I'm cheap. So we tend to wait every three months or so, until they are afraid they will lose us as customers, and then offer some great deal, which is more in line with what I'd expect to pay other places. Usually this outstanding deal comes with a myriad of things, and no alterations are allowed. It is a package deal.

So I have learned to like hotdogs again. I eat a couple of bites of steak (something I've never cared for in my life). I realized that while their meat products are great, their Sole pretty much bites.

If you don't have access to good meat, Omaha might be the place for you to order from. Wait for a good deal though, or you will be paying through the nose (their website "specials" are usually horrible, and you will overpay by quite a bit). Another word of caution is to make sure you tell them on the phone that you do NOT want to be on their calling list, or they will be bugging you night and day. Once you tell them to take you off, in very firm tones, they will not call again. You might still receive offers in the mail, but they won't bug you via telephone.
Something I realized just recently (I subconsciously knew this for years, but finally started consciously thinking about it), is the difference between today's beginning poker players and those of us who have been around the business for over five years and even decades past. I always thought that the difference was that young males (predominantly) had seen poker on TV, wanted to become the next superstar, and tried to emulate TV poker at the 2/4 game by wearing shades, low ball caps, an i-pod, and "staring down" an opponent for five minutes while he decided if he was going to call the $2 raise or not. While all of this is true, there is another aspect to newish players vs. jaded players.

A jaded player like me is someone who was just kind of thrown to the wolves. In gardening, there is a term called "hardening." We must harden off some seedlings before they can be transplanted into the garden. The process is like this: cover a seed with water overnight, put it in some soil or a peat pot, once it sprouts place it close to a window, after a few days take it out to a covered patio for a couple of hours per day, gradually increase until it is outside almost 24 hours per day, place it closer and closer to direct sunlight until it is strong. Then it is ready for the real soil and the garden.

While this is an oversimplification for hardening seedlings, I just wanted a quick illustration for the difference between today's new players and new players of yesteryear.

New players are given a hardening if they want it, a slow process of adjusting to the real world of poker before they must face it. Today they can read tomes of poker goodness on the web. They can order dozens of excellent poker books before they ever have to play a real hand of poker. They can discuss poker on any number of poker forums. They can log onto a poker site and play thousands of hours with play money or at micro-stakes. They are lulled gently before they have to face their first live poker room. Heck, some of them have become millionaires without ever having entered a B&M room in their lives!

In the pre-boom days, we were basically thrown to the wolves. We had to either sink or swim, so the hardiest among us became poker room regulars. The weaker players simply quit. They either did not have the mental fortitude for poker, or they went bust. Those without very high self-confidence slunk away after being verbally and sometimes even physically assaulted.

These days, not only is the whole hardening process a huge advantage to new players, but also, poker rooms have cleaned up their act quite a bit. Women are tolerated, young players are welcomed, abuse is further and farther between, and much less allowed than in the past.

I had the false belief that not many "real" poker players these days lacked self-esteem. I was obviously wrong. Not only is it a problem among bloggers, but even some very high stakes, extremely talented players are not strong personalities. The weakest eventually play online only, or quit altogether, whereas the ones who are relatively normal (yet lacking somewhat in confidence), harden up, and flourish. Some of these people are pure geniuses.

So a day of discovery for me. I love days like today.
Glenn said something funny yesterday. I was lamenting about how I keep getting misunderstood and completely misquoted by some people online. After looking at several of the posts I was talking about, he turned to me and said, "Can you really take anyone with the word 'hammer' in their nickname seriously??? Come ON, consider the source!"

While this cracked me up, it also reminded me of Grubby and his plan to make the beer hand into the "hammer." He wanted it to become the universal name for 72o, replacing the current nickname "the beer hand." In this he succeeded greatly. I have talked to people who have never even played online, never read a poker blog in their lives, refer to 72o as the "hammer."

There is nothing wrong with poker nicknames. But at times they can be telling in a game. Watch the reactions a nickname gets while you are playing live sometime. If someone shows down 92o and someone else says "Montana Banana!" I know something about him. He's been around a while, most likely. And then I learn something about my other opponents. The ones who ask, "Huh? What are you talking about???" might be new. While any hard assumption is usually a bad one to make, it is never bad to take in the clues and remember who said what.

Once again, however, don't rely heavily on them. Linda Geneen, who has been in the poker world for decades, uses "hammer" quite a bit, so it can be dangerous and misleading if you jump to too many conclusions.
Getting back to along the lines of being misquoted, misunderstood and people either reading one literally or reading between the lines, this has long been one of my favorite quotes, and I have used it here before:

"Was this a bad beat? NO. It was just the turn of three cards in a lifelong game." --Don Threetens

Felicia :)