Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Evelyn Ng & Phil Ivey Poker Blogs

"At that point I ought to have gone away, but a strange sensation rose up in me, a sort of defiance of fate, a desire to challenge it, to put out my tongue at it. I laid down the largest stake allowed - four thousand gulden - and lost it. Then, getting hot, I pulled out all I had left, staked it on the same number, and lost again, after which I walked away from the table as though I were stunned. I could not even grasp what had happened to me."
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Gambler

Good Lord, it sure takes awhile to catch up on poker blogging goodness. So many great blogs and posts. But damnit, now I've had a few too many Guinness. Prepare for a verbose, drunken post.

I think there is a distinct correlation between poker players who desire to improve, to study and become winning players and the poker blogging scene. It's difficult sometimes to be brutally honest with our play, to dissect it and try to understand the "why and how" of what we are potentially doing wrong. I guess I'd like to rant about losing versus winning poker players, maybe bash the online poker conspiracy theorists again (head to the archives if you want a taste) but that's a dead horse.

It seems like many losing players have a propensity to blame losing on outside forces like bad luck, bad cards or rampant cheating. Winning poker players (to me) believe that winning is a direct result of their own studying, ability and preparation. Losers, because the idea of incompetency is so damaging to their ego, tend to point to reasons outside of themselves.

I'm not disavowing bad luck or a terrible run of cards, believe me. It's accepted that even good players will experience long losing streaks - it's unavoidable. I'm just referring to the gambloors who whine and complain and post about "fixed" internet poker instead of taking a hard, cold look at their game.

And that's what it takes to become a winning player. This and more. It takes a gut-check of our emotional discipline at the table to play _each_ hand as they come, one by one, to shrug off the bad beats and play each hand in a vacuum. Don't think about the money, the last hand, the last hour. Just focus on playing *this* hand correctly.

Poor players don't even care about these concepts. They play hunches. They beleive in hot seats or rushes. They think certain dealers never deal them winners. That's insane thinking to the rational poker student.

I absolutely believe that game selection & emotional discipline are two of the very biggest issues for the vast majority of pro wannabes or players who simply want to win & build a bankroll. Too many players spend too much time focusing on the wrong thing. They play on tight tables (PARTY POKER has 35,000 players right now!!) when there is no reason to do so.

Because most winnings come from the relative difference between your skill
and that of your opponents, and are not just a function of ability alone,
any player - pro or not - who plays to win money, should simply table hop and find a table to their liking.

It's not that difficult to use Pokertracker and follow fishies around. So my long-winded, roundabout 'tip of the day' to my ten readers is: focus more on game selection and developing iron-willed discipline. And play at Party.

A focused grinder will get the money in the long-term.

/end rant

Can you tell I've been grinding again? :)

To be truthful, this post came from Hdouble's excellent tip:

Any time you play a hand without firmly believing that you have a positive expectation, you are on subtle tilt

This is a concept that John Feeny first articulated in his fine book, Inside The Poker Mind, and that Hdouble wisely pointed out in his own play. Being reminded of such an important concept is in large part why I continue this poker blog. Hank rules.

While I'm mentioning fellow poker blogging brethren, allow me to say Hi to Liz, of Suited Trash, the newest poker blogger on the block and welcome to the wacky world of poker blogs! It appears as if she is starting a meta-blog, which is a nifty idea. I received an asterisk for my post today! Thanks, Liz!

Couple quick notes: Pauly of Tao of Poker fame joined Ugarte and Rick's home game in NYC and had a fine write-up, per usual. Nearly better than that, however, Pauly has taken the leap and started to play online! Woohooo! Good luck!

Speaking of Mac users, I enjoyed Paul's rant about Mac's, summed up in this one thought:

Steve Jobs can lick my toes

I'm still waiting for my favorite blogger across the pond, Vagaries, to start posting again.

Lord Grezsdlkdklf has a wonderfully long and interesting post as he grapples with aspirations of quitting his job and moving to Vegas to play full-time. I really enjoy the lengthy posts, plus he's dealing with some serious life decisions. 10k isn't enough to move to Vegas with, unless you can live in your Mom and Dad's basement. Lord G, as someone who moved to Vegas on their 25th birthday, email me and I'll be happy to give my two cents.

Woohoo! World Poker Tour Pro, Lion Tales, has yet ANOTHER new post. A must read.
Richard Brodie - WPT Pro

Another top-tier update:
David Ross: Playing online for a living week 40

K, that's enough for today. Thanks a bunch for reading.

Finally, I want to stress how important it is to track your own play. I still know several guys whose play I respect who do NOT track hand histories or their play. That's just crazy to me. As a long-time player, I understand that like water over time eroding into the soft rock, your play tends to go in a certain direction, not necessarily the right one either.

Abdul wisdom about tilt per my ramblings above.


Maintaining emotional control: You say you are mystified by the phenomenon
of tilt. Suppose you would be put to death if you did not make a profit
by 6 am. Imagine then how you would play if you got stuck. Imagine
your emotional state if you lost a rack to a 1-outer! As you got more
and more stuck and it got later and later, you would become
increasingly desperate, and quite logically so. Instead of stepping
down in stakes due to shrinking bankroll and poor emotional state, you
would step up in stakes. At 5:55 am, if still stuck, you would play
*every* hand, in a quite logical attempt to get even and avoid the
guillotine. This is my theory of why players act this way. They place
great value on winning today, little value on winning overall. My
prescription to remedy this problem is to track your winnings and
graph them, concentrating on making the graph go up, learning that
the little dips are just inevitable noise. If you're too lazy to
do this, at least keep your poker "wad" banded and separate from
your personal money, and concentrate on making the "wad" grow.


I have lots more to post about. Plenty of news (I can't help myself), poker bots, the blogger tourney and beating low-limit poker. Coming soon.

Link of the Day:
Brevity is Solely for Fuckwits
A 1991 Saturday Night Live skit introduced Johnny Letter, an Old West vigilante who used his strong writing skills to exact revenge on others. Johnny would love an encyclopedically detailed discussion board flamewar.

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