Like They Say About The People Who Smoke Virginia Slims

Year-in-review posts from poker bloggers seem to be the way of things. All I know is that the last year's been a blur. I played my first serious hands of poker (as in, hands not involving a drinking game or play money) a year ago today, when I finally got my PokerRoom account funded and running. In the first couple of weeks I lost about a third of my original $500 stake. Then I read - no fucking kidding - Hellmuth's first book. I still think it's a better book for an utter novice than the Lee Jones or Miller/Sklansky/Malmuth book. Tangentially: Sklansky will tell me that I'm clearly a gambler, since I play poker. But I don't think of myself as one. Those of you who've met me may or may not have noticed that I don't join in much talk about sports teams and bets thereon, have only a mechanical interest in blackjack or craps, and yet will gladly throw myself into a shorthanded game of something at which I am clearly not an expert (triple draw, Chinese Poker, Badugi - although on its face Badugi seems to me like a game where you're mostly competing against other player's similar two-out draws and so I only sorta see the appeal). I like poker because it has far greater complexity than any of those games in which the house/player edges are readily calculable - and, beautifully, it is beatable because of that complexity rather than in spite of it. Once when I was a kid I was wandering around the Renaissance Fair near Minneapolis, and happened upon a guy who was charging for chess games. He was playing several at a time, charging I think two bucks for a game and offering something like five to one for a win and slightly-better-than-even money for a draw. I played him once and lost, played him again and - somehow - won. I don't know exactly what moves I made that would allow me to overcome an obviously ranked player - I can't have been bringing anything to the game he hadn't seen before. I have not developed into the kind of chess player, in either temperament or skill, that would justify calling myself a prodigy. I wasn't hustling the guy. And yet, fresh off my win, when I asked for another game, he said no. He wasn't interested in a bet that history said was -EV. Which is pretty much where I am at this point. This is supposed to be a time for reflection on the self, something important to any thinking poker player's progress, and an ability which I do not have in great measure. Also confession bores me a bit - that Catholic upbringing again. But here's a few pithy things I've learned this year: 1. It's neither passivity nor mania that's your chief enemy, but predictability and stasis. A shark has to keep moving. 2. Emulate successful players, but not when you're playing with them. 3. It takes table image and skill to stay alive when you're not getting good cards, but you need all three to make money. 4. Never assume you've won. Never assume you've lost. Be gracious either way. 5. When you've suffered a bad beat, don't compound your losses by giving lessons. 6. To both enjoy the game and take it seriously, you need to love it. 7. If you only think about your game once a year, your progress will never amount to much of anything.


Blogger StudioGlyphic said...

Best part:

1. It's neither passivity nor mania that's your chief enemy, but predictability and stasis. A shark has to keep moving.

Good one, and congrats.

10/13/2005 09:47:00 AM  

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