July 27, 2005

Luck of the Draw

There are a couple of schools of thought on poker: luck versus skill. I personally believe it is both; the luck comes in with the cards, the skill comes in with the chips.

In a long, rambling, Guinness fueled post over at Party Poker Blog I found a bit of a gem comparing poker to golf:

I was talking to a good friend, an avid golfer, about this concept today. And he showed me how golf is similar - the very "stickiness" of it - it's challenging to the point that you can never solve it. And usually, the enemy is yourself.

Because of this, poker, like the game of golf, hooks the susceptible and the desperate with the seductive promise of coming up a winner against all odds via nothing more than the auspices of Lady Fortune. And thus, like gambling, golf becomes addictive. Just one more round. I can feel it.

Today's the day luck rides in my cart. Today's the day that higher power makes me destiny's tot, guides me thru the shadow of the valley of incompetence on a giddy roll of clean fairway drives, miracle putts and group one hands.

Well, it didn't work today. Maybe tomorrow. I'll just keep playing until it does. Gawdamnit, it's only a matter of a few inches here, a few folds there and a tad more topspin on my approach. Can't stop now - sooo tantalizingly close I can taste it!

It's maddening sometimes, isn't it?

I mean, everytime I've built a giant stack in the NL ring game at the boat, I lose a large chunk of it to a bad beat. It's becoming a theme. So I've become very adept at building that stack - now I just need to learn how to keep it. (Don't play big pots with the other big stack, damnit!)

Now, I do believe it is possible to get cold-decked in which case, if you stay at the table you can easily get blinded out. But I also believe that having bad cards is not going to keep you from winning pots, I have pulled in some doozies with nuthin' but a phony tell. It is harder to make that work online, but it is doable if you are bold enough - and willing to lose a lot of chips if someone calls your bluff. In the same rambling post we get Daniel Negraneau's take on playing online:
Last year at BARGE, Howard Lederer said that online tournament practice is very valuable, especially as younger players can gather up a great mass of tournament experience without ever leaving their living room.

Obviously the biggest difference between live play and online poker play would have to be the absence of physical tells. A great player's tell reading ability is neutralized online, which leaves just the fundamentals. If you have a good understanding of poker fundamentals, there should be no reason why playing poker online wouldn't be profitable. There are likely a few minor adjustments you would have to make when playing online though:

1. You will have to call more potential bluffs more often. Without the presence of physical tells, the only way you'd be able to make a big laydown would be to have logged enough hours with your opponents and have a good read of his betting patterns. When playing online though, it's likely that you'll often face players you've never played before. Against them, it's important to pay them off until you have enough information otherwise.

2. You should bluff less often. Again, if you are supposed to look people up more often than you normally would, then so should your opponents - and they will. So bluffing more than you need is just a total waste of money. Your profit from these games comes from VALUE BETTING, not bluffing.

So true. The occasional bluff will work, but not as often - and nowadays, with the explosion of Texas Hold 'Em, there are a lot of green players. You can't bluff the flush if the player isn't able to recognize it sitting on the board. A great bluff will fail against someone who doesn't understand that the odds of him getting the one card he need are not worth the risk.

I'll finish up my long rambling post with yet another excerpt from his long rambling post.

Attributes of a winning poker player by Dr. Al Schoonmaker:
  • Extreme self control- no impulsive behavior
  • Ability to concentrate intently- no wandering thoughts
  • Ability to admit mistakes quickly- and thus terminate them
  • Ability to depersonalize conflicts- be objective regardless of personalities involved
  • Selective aggressive play at the table
  • Acceptance of responsibility - accountability for all your results
  • Always demanding an edge/advantage before you play
  • Brutal realism- the absence of denial or kidding yourself
  • Visible thinking- thinking through and knowing why you made every play
  • Ability to learn from your mistakes
  • Obsession with winning
  • Ability to make adjustments based on observations; adaptability
The ones I've mastered are in bold letters.

Posted by Vox at July 27, 2005 07:29 PM | poker