July 2, 2010
I first want to say thank you to everyone who has read this blog. I hope you have enjoyed it. It is with some sadness that I announce its temporary cessation. It IS possibly permanent – let’s face it, most blogs don’t last long in the first place and when they stop they usually stop for good. I will certainly not be writing at all in July or August – if I do re-start it will be in September or later.
Recently I have had an increasingly tense (and at times hostile) relationship with the poker community at large and a number of individual poker players. I believe much of this tension stems from the fact that I tend to speak my mind openly and honestly. I don’t think I’m a particularly blunt person, but poker players are often extremely occlusive, and I will admit that I occasionally react by being more blunt (as if by doing so I can somehow right the cosmic balance).
This by itself is probably not enough to cause a problem. From my perspective a complicating factor is that I believe many poker players tend to avoid even the slightest confrontation and (partly as a result of being so inexperienced when conflict is unavoidable) often have childish responses and coping mechanisms when provoked.
In other words, if I feel something needs to be said, I tend to say it. Often these statements are met with some degree of scorn and at times censure. There have been numerous such incidents between myself and a number of individual poker players, and I prefer to not recount such incidents here. I do not believe it would serve a purpose and would likely come off as simple libel. Suffice to say that many poker players apparently cannot bear to hear anything negative being said about themselves or anything they have done. To me this seems rather perverse – these individuals somehow feel that it is okay to be an asshole but that me telling them they’re being an asshole is somehow a grave offense.
Other incidents have involved larger portions of the community, some on the forums, and some things culminating in my recent trip to Las Vegas. But again I see no real point in re-hashing those discussions. The purpose of my post today is not to re-open those discussions nor promulgate new arguments on my side. It is simply to say that I am in the process of making some decisions that will likely result in me withdrawing from the poker community in a number of ways.
This blog is just one step. Lately I have been re-evaluating the role poker plays in my life and I have found I am unhappy with the way some things have developed. The bottom line is that I am not certain this blog fits into my poker plan, and more importantly, my life goals. If I find I feel similarly about any other poker things (playing, coaching, personal interaction, etc.) I will presumably deal with them similarly.
I would like to reiterate that my decisions will be for an indefinite time period. That is, they are not permanent or irreversible. I feel there is a lot of dysfunction in the poker community and I am extremely frustrated (and tired of dealing) with it right now. Perhaps I just need a break. Part of me feels that it is not yet time for me to walk away entirely. It is not in my nature to give up easily.
As an aside, plans for The Good Life (helpfully a NON poker series) are continuing without interruption. Part of me feels this series is more needed now than ever. Many poker players I’ve met are selfish inconsiderate individuals who lead solitary and miserable existences devoid of any real substance or worth to the external world. There, I said it. If that upsets you, ask yourself why. Is it because it’s true?
Again, thank you for reading.
June 7, 2010
Here’s where I’ll be staying:
June 6, 2010
The other day my wife and I went shopping. We purchased a number of items that were on sale, as well as some that had a temporary price reduction (usually this just means the food is going to expire soon, which we solve by eating that day). So the cashier is ringing all of our stuff up, gets through all the coupons, and kind of turns to me:
Cashier: “She’s a good shopper.”
Me: “Yeah, that’s what it said on the Craigslist ad!”
June 5, 2010
I’ve been pretty busy lately – DeucesCracked member Boomer visited the States and now I’m busy getting ready for my trip to Las Vegas.
bellatrix: ah good, what are your plans, are you gonna play any WSOP events?
PygmyHero: mostly hang out
PygmyHero: play poker
PygmyHero: attend DC events
bellatrix: ah kk, you know limit games suck in Vegas mostly
PygmyHero: I doubt I’ll play any events
bellatrix: I mean, there’s the 15/30 Bellagio
PygmyHero: no, I didn’t know that
PygmyHero: but, I mean…I don’t know if YOU know
PygmyHero: that I’m really good
May 19, 2010
As in the previous game we had 6 players and a dealer, and played 0.50/1 blinds in the big bet games and 2/4 in the limit rounds. However, there were two important structural changes: each game was played for 30 minutes (rather than a set number of hands), and we limited to rotation to four games. I liked both changes as the game flow was better and a bit more coherent overall. Our four games for the evening were: NL, LHE, PLO, and Razz.
I continued my NL ineptitude (I’m sure the other guys wanted to play it first so I’d be full stacked) but think I managed to end the round ahead, oddly enough. I really struggle with my bet sizing in NL – I can count the pot no problem since I regularly do that in LHE, but I never know what portion of the pot to bet post flop (a half? 75%? 2/3rds?). Here’s a potentially interesting hand that I hope I played okay:
I open the HJ with 9d8d to $3, BB defends
Flop ($6.50) As 8h 4s (2 players)
BB checks, I check
Turn ($6.50) 3c (2 players)
BB bets $4, I call
River ($14.50) 7c (2 players)
BB checks, I check
I just don’t really know what to do – I mean, in LHE I’d bet the flop, not be afraid to call a x/r, and would value bet the river.
Anyway, nothing too memorable happened in the other rounds…and then Tecmo tricked us into playing one hand of 2-7 Triple Draw. No one else really knows how to play, and of course as luck would have it Tecmo managed to make a #1 (the nuts) and get paid off. Hmmm…We then audibled and played a round of Stud. I played a few interesting Stud hand, but it’s hard to remember everything that happened (dead cards and such). I think next time I’m going to bring a notepad and write down upcards and such after an interesting hand. One PF spot that gave me trouble:
Stud Hi $0.25 ante
2d brings it in for $1
Player immediately behind has a K up and raises to $2 (I believed this player was fairly tight and will have a K in the hole often, especially as he is acting second)
I’m next and have (As Kc) Qh and don’t know what to do.
The upcards behind me were a J, a T, and a 4.
May 13, 2010
A few weeks ago I re-read Tommy Angelo’s Elements of Poker for some upcoming poker projects (stay tuned for more on that when DeucesCracked Season 3 is announced). Here are my thoughts:
It would be very challenging to say anything original or especially enlightening about Tommy Angelo’s Elements of Poker. The book has many staunch supporters who already have some understanding of the book’s style and benefits. So perhaps it makes some sense to tailor this review to people less familiar with the book.
The problem with that is I don’t think this book is for novices (who are less likely to already know about the book or be familiar with Tommy Angelo). In truth I don’t think reading it is enough for any one person to understand it – much that Tommy talks about needs to be lived out (i.e., learned experientially) to really be understood at a deeper level. Because of this, many less experienced players may think his writing is bunk (note that while the two may correlate to some extent I am ONLY addressing a person’s experience level here, NOT their skill level).
Speaking from personal experience, I am in some ways glad I didn’t have this book earlier in my poker career. I read it immediately when it came out and have re-read it a few times since – each successive reading has revealed new layers of meaning and understanding. A lot of what Tommy talks about wouldn’t have made sense to me, or at least wouldn’t have resonated as strongly, when I was a less experienced player. An example I’m sure most can relate to is downswings. We can talk about them all we want but it is something else entirely to go through one – you gain a different perspective from that experience, one that you never could have acquired through discussion alone.
Overall it is a unique (I am reluctant to insert the word ‘poker’ here) book. Tommy has an inimitable writing style that makes the book extremely enjoyable to read. He has a clever way of turning phrases and, as a result, much of what he says is very memorable. The book itself is unlike traditional poker strategy books in that the focus in mostly on non betting topics.
The ultimate end for all topics (including non betting topics) is, ‘how will this affect my results at the tables?’ But I believe perceptive readers will find many other applications. For example, we could re-evaluate all our actions and ask, ‘how will this affect my happiness in life?’ The two seem to be related to some extent, and I believe Tommy hints at and alludes to this in the book. I am not convinced this isn’t the most valuable aspect of the book.
May 8, 2010
I have some difficulty remembering people’s names, so when I saw an article on Yahoo about it the other week I idly clicked it. Unfortunately it only contained the standard tips that everyone knows:
‘This is Cheryl, like my brother Daryl.’
‘Her friend is Tom, like my college roomate.’
But I think by far the dumbest trick is consonance (‘Brian is going bald.’). Here’s why: imagine you are doing freshman orientation. You are in charge of a small group of about a dozen kids. None of them know each other and you want to get them to learn each others names. So you play a small game about a theoretical party. The problem is some jerk always ruins it:
Random kid 1: ‘I’m Jason and I’ll bring jam to the party.’ [wow Jason, that sounds like an awesome party]
Random kid 2: ‘I’m Beth and I’ll bring balloons!’ [seriously?!?! what a creative and interesting answer...STFU]
Me: ‘I’m Mike and I’ll bring marijuana.’
Needless to say our group administrator was NOT pleased. But to be fair I guess maybe they were right after all – months later I ran into someone from my orientation group who promptly greeted me as, ‘The marijuana guy!’
May 3, 2010
I don’t think I really need to elaborate. This is one of the competitors at a climbing competition I went to the other weekend.
April 30, 2010
I’m launching a group coaching program. Actually I’ve already tried it out – I used some of my existing students as guinea pigs. Everything went well – the feedback I received was extremely positive, so I am not opening up the next round of group coaching to the public.
How it works: Basically I meet with the group weekly for five weeks. Each session has a specific theme and I present PowerPoint slides and hand histories illustrating the related concepts. I think this method – having a specific curriculum – leads to more focused discussion, which benefits the student more.
April 27, 2010
Last week I finished re-reading Barry Greenstein’s Ace on the River in preparation for my upcoming video series on DeucesCracked, The Good Life. As it’s still a fairly recent (and, in my opinion, relevant) book I thought I’d take some time to type up my thoughts.
Ace on the River is quite a bit different than most poker books. Whereas most tell stories about poker players or address the strategy of poker, this one approaches poker in a more holistic way. The focus is less on what to do in a given hand or situation and more on how different aspects of life affect your poker play, and vice versa. The result is a unique book with a philosophical bent.
Barry Greenstein covers a wide range of topics – from gambling addiction to family, from psychology to sex. I believe many people will find Greenstein’s thoughts on these topics new and useful. Certainly he seems to have a different viewpoint on many of these areas than can be found in other books.
Really my only complaint is that some sections are too brief. His thought process can wander off topic and get a bit out of control at times (perhaps typified in the chaos theory section where he relays a series of hypothetical events and the potential chain reaction that could be ignited as a result of a single initial decision).
Overall it is one of the better written poker books I’ve seen (though that is not much of a feat). I suspect that what weaknesses the book has stem not from any inability of Greenstein to articulate his ideas, but rather from his inexperience as a writer. He has interesting theories, but sometimes the way in which they are presented lacks sufficient organization or coherency.
Lastly, the book is notable for its high production values. It is printed on quality paper and has numerous gorgeous pictures (so many that it is a faster read than you may think by looking at its size). To better present the pictures the book is a bit oversized, which actually makes it a bit awkward to wield (trust me, if you pick up a copy you’re not so much holding it while you read it as you are wielding it). Overall it is well worth the read and I recommend it.