Monday, September 19, 2005
"That's my play in a nutshell.
I sit around and wait to get fucked on my good hands."
GMoney, to me.
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Sadly, I've got to make this a quick one so let's give you some fine poker essays by Mr. Ed Hill. Three of the latest Jessica Alba bikini pics for your viewing pleasure afterwards.
Enjoy and see everyone tomorrow evening!
The Poker Zone
There is a very special place reserved for great players only, sometimes
average players visit when they are running good, but they are not allowed
to stay until they become great players. It can be a lot like the twilight
zone, because it is located in our minds and we call it the poker zone.
This is not an easy place to visit we have to learn all the tools that
winning players utilize first. These tools can be found is Sklansky’s
“Theory of Poker.” The next step is trying to figure out the right moment
to utilize all the concepts that winning poker players use without using
the wrong one at the wrong time. This takes a long time of being in
repetitious situations but our timing does get better over time. If you
have really studied “Theory of Poker” and have studied a good “how to”
book on the game of your choice you will have developed a better feel.
Only time teaches us on when to bet a certain hand again against this type
of player and to take the free card that is being offered you against that
type of player. There are many situations like this in all forms of poker.
I lived in Vegas from 1976 until 2004 when I finally moved to Los Angeles.
I just made a trip back to Vegas and visited one of my old friend’s Cissy.
She is one of the greatest players I have ever played with, we hold each
others poker skills in high regard. She has recently started playing
online and made an amazing comment that I have also found to be very true.
She said, “I used to think that I was really good in reading tells and
that is how I ascertained the correct thing to do. But after playing
online I see that I can read my opponents the same way I do in the live
games. Eddie, this is really weird, how can you read a blinking circle the
same way you can read a person that you are looking at across the table?”
I told her, you are always in the zone. I have found the same thing to be
true, I can sit here in front of the computer and hand after hand say this
guy has this and when the cards turn up, there it is, exactly what I said
he had. Many people can do this in obvious situations, we are talking
about much more abstract hands than the obvious ones.
Many average players have gone on rushes, when they are winning and
everything is going their way they kind of know what their opponents have
most of the time. Their game is temporally great and there is a positive
energy around them, they have visited the place that great players go and
didn’t even know where they were. The next day when the rush is over they
are right back where they used to be, trying to guess the right time to
make this play or the right time to not make that play. When you are
guessing you are correct a certain amount of the time and wrong a certain
amount of the time, that’s why it is called guessing. Wouldn’t it be nice
to “guess” right nearly 100% of the time? You can if you know what your
opponents have. This is why some people have resorted to playing with
marked cards. But that is cheating and electronic daub hasn’t been
But if you have been playing professional poker as long as
we have you will find that we are almost as accurate as the cheaters that
are playing with marked cards, because we know how to go to the poker
zone. We know how to stay there even when the cards are not being kind to
us. Most of the players have never been there, some have visited when they
are on a rush and the great players are there almost all the time.
We all have our on way of going to a very abstract place, a scary place
that exists somewhere in our minds. Where we have taught ourselves to
focus on the game with extreme intensity, there is no other existence
except this poker game. I am totally oblivious to everything else. If you
are talking to me I don’t hear you, the TV is background noise, I am not
done playing this hand even if my cards are in the muck. If you don’t
understand this statement you probably are looking on the TV Guide to see
what channel the Poker Zone in on and wondering why you have never seen it
You must know every tendency that all your opponents have and then go way
beyond that knowledge. After awhile you can start to feel their emotions,
even over the Internet.
The other night I was playing no limit and my beautiful neighbor was over
sweating, she is fascinated that somebody can make a living playing poker
and likes to watch. There was one limper and I raised it with KQs one off
the button and the field folded, he called. The flop came KQ4 rainbow, he
checked, I bet, he called. I am real familiar with this opponent, I know
he avoids getting in pots with me at all costs. He called real fast here,
that is usually a draw, but there are three cards of different suits
sitting there, so the only draw is J-10. He, like a lot of others likes to
think for awhile before raising in an attempt to fool his opponent into
thinking that he has some mediocre hand that he finally decided to raise
with. He doesn’t slow play his hands when he is out of position, so if he
had flopped a set, he would have stalled for a long time before finally
raising. He didn’t do that, he called immediately, that is a draw, so he
has J-10, I know it. The turn is a 9. He checks and I say to my neighbor,
he just sucked out on me and checked. She said, “you have been telling me
to not see the boggy man when a bad card comes off and to go ahead and get
value for your hands. You have been saying that I shouldn’t worry about
being raised until I am actually raised and now you check top two pair?” I
said, he has J-10! The river fortunately came a Q. He bet right into for
half the pot because he was looking to get paid off. I raised him
everything he had in front of him and he called. He turned up his hand,
J-10! I said to her, “told ya!” She said, “you always just triple their
bet when you raise, now this time you raised him all his money instead?
Sometimes you violate all your own principles.”
I told her, “he bet me
$100, normally I would make it $300, but he had $900 in front of him and I
knew he couldn’t fold a straight.” She chuckled, “you mean you knew he had
J-10, you absolutely knew.” I said, “I put my money where my mouth was
didn’t I? I did check top two on the turn against one opponent.”
The Poker Zone
You must know your opponents almost as well as you know yourself, you have
to be capable of feeling their feelings. This can only be done when you
have observed everything that they have done, hour after hour, day after
day. This beat will be the straw that broke the camel’s back, player “X”
is now going to go on tilt. Player “Z” is going on a rush and is now ready
to try and run over everybody.
Your opponents are human beings, which are affected by their moods. The
same player is not going to play the same hand the same way all the time.
Usually player “Y” will play this type of hand this way except when he is
losing. Well, is he going to get more timid when he is losing, or more
aggressive? He is winning, is he going to tighten up and try to preserve
the win or is he going to try to push everybody around and take advantage
of his good table image? A certain card comes off and he is taking longer
to act than he normally does. Did this card stun him so that he needs a
little more time than normal to figure out what he is going to do? Or, did
it hit him and he is sitting there thinking in attempt to fool his
opponent into thinking that he has a tough decision? These questions can
be answered, and answered correctly at an astounding high frequency. Like
I said in Part One, it is almost like playing with marked cards. I am not
guessing does this guy have this, I am stating that this guy has this. I
know it and I am going to play my hand accordingly.
These answers are not derived by witchcraft or by cheating. They are
derived by totally focusing on the game. It is my job to not only get into
your head, but get in tune with your emotions. I start off putting my
opponent on a group of hands and then take his emotions into account. Then
start eliminating what he doesn’t have by his actions on each street until
I come up with what he does have. It can be done. The great players know
how to do it. But how do you get there? That goes back to the statement
that I made in Part One, you are not done playing this hand even if your
cards are in the muck. There is still information here to be collected,
information that you can use in the future to your benefit. This is of
course if you are paying attention. If you choose to watch TV or to get in
a conversation because you have already folded, you will not be privy to
what your opponents were telling you about themselves. Once you have
succeeded in overcoming all the distractions and staying totally focused
on the game you will find the poker zone. Staying there is a another
problem. I like to pretend that it is my job to announce the game to the
audience and I do it every hand. I am the announcer it is my job. Seat 1
posts his small blind, seat two posts his big blind, seat 3 and four fold,
seat 5 raises first in from middle position, seats 6,7,and 8 fold, seat
nine calls, the blinds pass. It is now heads up. The flop comes 2-3-J two
diamonds and the raiser bets and the nine seat calls. The turn pairs
Jacks, the flush draw doesn’t get there and the 5 seat bets and gets moved
in on by the 9 seat. After a brief pause he calls. I am off getting the
hand history, I want to know what both of them had. There could be
something here that I could use in the future. The five seat had Aces and
the 9 seat had K-J. Big deal, just another bad beat, you see it all the
time. No way, there was a vast amount of information.
The five seat will not limp in with Aces looking to sandbag after two
people have folded. He was not scared to bet on the turn even after top
pair paired but wouldn’t fold even when he was moved in on. This means
that when scare cards come he took a little more time than normal but
couldn’t lay his hand down after getting moved in on. Was he winning or
losing when this hand came down? Was he pot committed after betting the
turn, or was he not far enough gone and could have still folded? How is he
going to conduct himself from here providing that he doesn’t quit? How
about the 9 seat? He was willing to call a first in raise from middle
position raiser from the button with K-J offsuit. He didn’t raise on the
flop when he flopped top pair, he just called. He didn’t use his position
and just call when the he got there on the turn, he raised it. Now, after
busting the 5 seat, what can I expect from him? Is he going to sit on his
winner and try to preserve it? Is he going to get more aggressive and try
to run over the table? I want the answers you should to. This was just one
very normal hand, but there was a lot of useful information that can be
used in the future providing that took the effort to pay attention. Your
job is to solve the very abstract puzzle that is constantly unfolding
right before your eyes.
The old saying “it is better to lucky than good.” Well, I haven’t figured
out how to keep luck, it comes and goes. I have figured out how to be
good. It takes a lot of work. But I don’t have to punch a time clock or
have a boss to answer to. All I have to do is use my poker skills and pay
attention to every detail and I am rewarded greatly for the effort. Isn’t
that what a job is? Getting rewarded for your effort. The poker zone
exists, the higher you play the more people you will run into that know
exactly where it is and how to stay there all the time. How do you think
they got the money to be able to afford to play in the size of games that
they are playing in? They won it and it didn’t come easy.
The Recipe for Becoming a Professional Gambler?
You have to pick a game that is beatable. A beatable game is one where
sometime during the play of the game the player is afforded an opportunity
to make an intelligent decision. Games such as Craps, Roulette,
Non-progressive slot machines, and Keno are examples of games that are not
beatable. So if one of the above is your game of choice, plan on going
broke. The four games that are beatable are Blackjack, Progressive Slots,
Sports Betting, and Poker.
First, my definition of a professional gambler is one that supports
himself entirely off of his gambling winnings. There are people that are
winning gamblers who don’t make enough to overcome their expenses without
having some other form of income and are by definition semi-professional
gamblers. Either way, to be a pro or a semi-pro there are an immense set
of skills that are required.
Just because a game is beatable doesn’t mean that you are going to beat
it. If you want to beat Blackjack you have to learn a card counting
strategy. Then you are going to have to have a good enough routine to keep
from being discovered. If progressive slots is your choice, you need to
able to recognize when jackpots are overlays and then beat the teams to
jackpots. Then there is sports betting, remember you have to handicap good
enough to overcome the 4.5% disadvantage that you have when you are laying
11-10. So you chose our game, poker.
It is really pretty easy making a living at playing poker. All you have to
do is follow this easy recipe.
Ingredient #1) HAVE THE SKILLS: You are not going to acquire the skills by
picking up a book and reading it through once. First, the book has to be
written by somebody that knows what he or she is talking about. If so, you
will have to read it many times to digest
everything that is in it. Secondly, you have to understand the game enough
to be able to apply all the knowledge that is in the book at the right
time without confusing concepts. Thirdly, you have to play well enough to
realize that the book can't possibly cover every
situation that arises. Eventually, you will need to be able to think
beyond the book. It might take practicing at poker to learn to think
beyond the book. In my opinion, Sklansky's "Theory of Poker" is the best,
but it takes a pretty good player to get everything out of the book that
it has to offer.
Ingredient #2) IRON CLAD DISCIPLINE: If you gain the skills to make a
living at playing poker, it doesn't necessarily mean you will. You have to
adjust your attitude to look at poker as just a game and only a game. If
the chips belong in the pot, put them in. If they don't, fold. It is never
personal. If you are going to play bad or lose your
focus because you are on an extended losing streak, you have picked the
wrong occupation. You are not going to win.
Ingredient #3) MONEY: You will have extended losing streaks. Poker has a
lot of luck in it. You need more money than what you would believe to
withstand all that can happen to you. Most people who play for a living
couldn't withstand breaking even for a year; their
expenses would bust them. Yet, in extreme cases this has happened. Which
gets us back to Ingredient #2. Can you play your best game or a reasonable
attempt at a good game when everything is going wrong and every time you
go to the mailbox, it is full of bills? It takes a big bankroll and a
strong constitution to stand up to these pressures and
still perform. It is also an excellent policy to never borrow or loan
Ingredient #4) EGO: If you are looking to prove that you are the best,
plan on standing on the rail. Just because you can afford to play in
bigger games doesn't mean that you have to. You should pick games that
have bad players in them whether they are small or big. You don't have to
prove to anybody that you can beat any game that comes along --
unless you have to prove it to yourself. And if that is the case, you're
not really trying to be a professional poker player; you're trying to
become the "fastest gun in the west." But those guys always found somebody
faster and ended up dead in the street. You will find
that it is more than just a coincidence that the pretty women will finally
discover how cool you are about the same time that you make it to the top
Ingredient #5) CHEATING: Say that you really do have the skills,
discipline, money, and control of your emotions to make a living at
playing poker. You had better know how to recognize when there is a
reasonable chance that you are getting cheated and back away from the
situation before you get hurt too bad.
Ingredient #6) WINNING ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH: You are talking about making
a living at playing poker, not merely being a winning poker player. The
difference is night and day. A winning poker player supplements his income
playing poker. A professional poker player has to support himself by
solely playing poker. Unless you plan on living in your car, you need to
win quite a lot of money every year to keep the
bankroll that you started the year with.
Ingredient #7) DON'T OVERESTIMATE YOUR EARN: Like I said before, poker
is a lucky game, and you can have extended losing streaks. But there is a
flip side to running bad. It is running way better than what you are
supposed to for extended periods of time. If you don't handle this right,
it can be almost as costly as running bad. If you are going to jump into
much bigger games because you believe that you are finally "on top" of
your game, when in reality, all you are doing is running exceptionally
good, you might find that you can blow off a two-week good earn in only a
few losing sessions. It is good to keep your action consistent and move up
slowly. Overestimating your earn can
also cause you to attempt to take on a lifestyle that you inevitably won't
be able to afford.
Ingredient #8) DON'T BET ON ANYTHING BUT POKER: If you really have all
the above 7 ingredients, you will still find yourself out of action if you
like to bet on other games. The only exception is learning a blackjack
card counting strategy. So, you see. There really isn't all that much to
it. Easy money is really sweet.
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