Sunday, October 24, 2004

"That's poker. I'm tired of saying it, but that's poker."
TJ Cloutier

Quick update here. More poker goodness coming...

One of my readers was in a quandry. He had won a $600 +40 seat into the Party Poker Million Guaranteed Tournament this weekend. Due to extenuating circumstances, he could not play and Party would not allow him to transfer a seat to another tourney. Use it or lose it, they said.

So he thought, hell, why not Iggy?

Why not indeed?

It was pretty cool to have a reader trust me enough to log into their account and attempt to win them some money. Thank you, sir.

1700 players in the tournament.

I finished around 70th, winning nearly 3 grand. I can honestly say this was one of the coldest card streaks I've ever hit. I scratched and clawed and nursed my stack to the bubble, and then had this conversation with Fast Eddie:

iggy: once im in the money im gonna shove and pray
fast_eddie : no you wont
iggy: its not ten k till you hit tenth place
fast_eddie : so 5 k isnt bad
fast_eddie : just play smart poker
fast_eddie : you make the final table ill rap at it
fast_eddie : even more incentive

Oh the humanity.

In celebration of my inaugural play in the Party Poker Million, as well as avoiding a final table rap performance by Fast Eddie, let's post this wonderful pic of Anna:

Anna says use BONUS CODE IGGY on Party Poker!

I truly have a ton of stuff to blog about but it shall have to wait. I'm overdue for a genuine uber-post, damnit. I might just start posting all this random stuff in quick short bursts, so stay tuned.

For now, here's a 2+2 post by a naysayer about playing poker professionally. He was flamed pretty hard by the regulars, so he then posted a follow-up article by the great Mike Caro. I'm including both of them here, along with one thoughtful response.

Quit dreaming

This is my first post and probably my last but I had to respond to the dreamers who think they can make a living at internet poker.

Trust me boys, I have been doing this for 30 years and I have seen far too much hurt, both personally and as a outsider. I laughed my ass off when I was reading buddies version of getting rich. And then to make things worse, you got a bunch of clowns responding to his thread and considering doing the same thing.

I suspect, these guys are a bunch of 18 year olds who think they know it all. Well, let me save you the heartache.


Say goodbye to your job, money, family and self respect. Trust me when I tell you this, when you do this for a living its not fun anymore...ITS A JOB. And then the inevitable will happen, YOU WILL GO ON TILT. When this happens you will press and lose everything. It may take 1 year or 6 months but it will happen.

Think it wont happen to you...well, tell it to the other millions it has happened.

So Mr. Dreamer...get the "Moneymaker" thoughts out of your head and dont quit your day job.

Reply from uber board veteran, MS Sunshine:

Nice ranting post.

If someone, even an 18 year-old, is reasonably good at games, studies, works hard, plays within their BR then it is relatively easy to make a decent wage playing winning internet poker. They don't even have to be that skilled at the game if they use good game selection and don't play above "their" skill ceiling.

If there is even a chance of tilting issues then internet poker is not right for you.

You have to love the game.

MS Sunshine

Here's the old Caro column:

How Many Americans Make Their Living Gambling?
from Mike Caro "America's Mad Genius"

Why is it that every time I agree to do an interview, the questions are the same? For instance: When was the first time you played poker? Who cares? I mean, let's be honest -- I don't even remember that first time. I was a little kid, for godsakes.

What interviewers should really ask is: What didn't you know the first time you played poker that would have prevented you from getting kicked in the ass? Truthfully, I don't remember that, either; but I can speculate.

The first time I played poker, I didn't know that you weren't supposed to try to win the pot. I mean, it just seems obvious when you're a little kid that winning the pot is what poker is all about. Unfortunately, most casual players bring this little-kid attitude to the tables as adults. If you went to the table the first time knowing that you'll get paid in the long run for making quality decisions, knowing that throwing a hand away (and surrendering any chance at the pot) actually can put money in your pocket, you'd be successful almost immediately.

What else didn't I know in that first poker game when I was a little kid? Let's see. Oh, I didn't know that anyone actually played poker for a living. I probably thought it was a game of luck, like Old Maid. So, here's the really intelligent question I've never been asked:

How many Americans make their living gambling?

Many millions, if you define gambling as the art of taking chances, including business ventures. But that's not what you mean. You mean games of chance and formal bets on the outcome of events. First, let's qualify this by specifying that not everyone who is money ahead from this sort of gambling is making a living at it. I'll exclude two categories: (1) Those who are currently ahead, but whose results are luck based and who can't expect to win regularly in the future; (2) Those who are skillful enough to win and augment their incomes gambling, but not by enough to make a living from it.

So, now -- under that definition, how many American's make their living gambling? Well, wait! Do you we include those that are on the business side of legalized gambling, such as casino owners and even employees? No, we're not talking about them; we'll only count players who make their living beating the casinos, players who make their living beating other players, gamblers who make their living on winning bets on the outcome of events, or gamblers who combine any of those.

Are we ready now? I guess not, because we need to define what a living is. Does it mean not working, but barely scraping enough to get to the tables while begging food and sleeping in the back of a car? No, not in this definition. To qualify, let's say a gambler must make at least half as much as he would if he held the job he'd otherwise hold and must make a minimum of $30,000 a year gambling. There, now -- even though we still have things to quibble about -- we can work with this definition.

To sum it up, I'm about to tell you how many adult Americans win and have a winning expectation of at least $30,000 a year, that sum being at least half of what they could earn if they chose another profession, who are primarily involved in formalized wagers or games of chance (as opposed to taking business risks) and who are not benefiting from the casino's side of it. We will also exclude illegal bookies, considering them to be more like casinos with a built-in edge.

Here's the over/under: 32,813. Don't ask me how we got that number, just some rough estimates here and some wild speculation there. But, I think it's very accurate. In other words, I'm saying there are just as likely to be 32,812 or fewer American gamblers earning a living as there are to be 32,814 or more.

If that sounds like a large number, just keep in mind that it means fewer than one in 5,000 adults makes a living gambling. But let's break this figure down some more.

How many of these don't cheat? Answer 19,124 (again a ridiculously exact number arrived at by compromise). Repeating, there are only about 19,124 honest gamblers earning a living in the United States under my previously explained definition. That means, of the estimated 32,813 total gamblers making a living, only 58 percent make that living honestly. The rest have various schemes or angles going for them. This includes some blackjack players who go against the house, although the vast majority of these do so honestly -- if you consider counting cards as honest. I do; casino management sometimes doesn't.

But let's take poker. First of all, of that 32,813 gamblers making a living in America, how many are primarily poker players? OK, you want another over/under, here it comes: 18,100. How many are totally honest in the way they exact this living? It's 6,914. That means 62 percent of American poker players making a living are scamming.

Why so high a number of cheats? First, you should know that the figures are probably similar for other card games for which there are a far fewer numbers of professionals. Gin rummy and hearts come to mind. There is also a considerable amount of cheating in games like backgammon.

Since poker is an easy game to beat through skill, why would more players choose to beat it through cheating, instead? Interesting question, but there's a profound and powerful answer. More players do NOT choose to earn a living at poker by cheating. By far the majority of players capable of earning a living at poker are strongly opposed to cheating. The reason the percentages are as stated is simple: Honest poker players with great skill seldom win when they end up unknowingly in games where unscrupulous poker players with lesser skills cheat. The result is that the original pool of potential players who could make their living at poker is overpopulated with predators.

Why am I telling you this? I'm telling you so that, assuming you're an honest gambler and especially if you're an honest poker player, you can redouble your vigilance. Don't play in games where you worry about being cheated. Even if the game turns out to be totally honest, you will waste valuable mental energy on your concern that you're being scammed. When that happens, you don't have your full mental faculties available to make best-quality strategic decisions.

As many of you know, I've fought against unethical poker practices for over 20 years. I even had an independent office at the Bicycle Club Casino near Los Angeles when it opened in 1984. Players were invited to report any facts or suspicious to my Cheater Monitoring Service. You can still bring scams, unethical behavior, and poker partnerships to my attention by e-mailing caro@caro.com.

And one response to this thread that I enjoyed:

I would have to think that Caro (and others) would revise their ideas of how easy/hard it is to make a living playing poker in light of the internet-poker explosion and all the TV coverage that is bringing thousands of newbies to the game.

In other words, I bet that the person whom you are quoting would even disagree with you.

Come on. Everyone here knows playing poker for a living is a scam. We're all pretending to make money, just so everyone doesn't find out what utter fools we are.

To the original poster, right on! Tell the world please. You can't make money playing poker. Not even on the internet. And don't stop there....

Could you also let the world know

- That reading poker books doesn't help.
- That 2+2 won't help either, it's just a bunch of phonies posting fake hand histories to try to impress some other losers.
- That any amateur who plays occasionally should have no problems winning as long as he's really self confident, because poker sites are just full of other amateurs who won't have his natural abilities.
- And even if he loses for a while he should keep coming back cause it's just a matter of time!

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