Friday, January 11, 2008

Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, damnit! 

"I'd rather be weak-tight than strong-broke."
Tommy Angelo

I very nearly wrote a State of the Union poker post a few days ago, but realized I was ill-equipped. My mental state right now is all about looking forward, not back.

But I'm still gonna ramble. Reflections, as it were, after a year of leaving poker.

I think it was Jesse May who said - people always wanna know what's going on in poker. And what's going on is people are going broke.

And one thing I never wrote up on this here blog was that the months before I went back to work last year, I was getting my ass handed to me at the poker tables. And it wasn't a tsunami of losses, oh no. It was just a slow, gradual decline, week after week, month after month.

And it wasn't about the money - I wasn't going broke or anything - it was more just the futility of it all. The isolated existence, the upside down hours, the fellow degenerates, the lack of a light at the end of the tunnel.

I didn't see the end game. I guess I didn't realize there wasn't ever gonna be one.

Because I was a cash game player, there never was the chance of a big payoff. Just a slow grind, which was perhaps more suited to my temperament and/or style of plodding along. My biggest regret over that time was I never took advantage of the freedom to play lots of big buy in tourneys. My mind set was grinding. Doh.

When I moved to Las Vegas on my birthday in 1992, I learned quickly to be a good loser. Living there had a price and I accepted that. So I got all my tilt out at a young age, playing black jack, video poker (always the ubiquitous video poker), Caribbean Stud, sports betting and more sports betting, Keno, you name it, I lost at it. And then I found poker. And quickly realized that a key to winning at poker is the ability to lose well.

And that was a skill that carried me for a long time. A pervasive perspective of the long-term.

Fast forward to late 2006, before the legislation passed, and I'm grinding away. Losing - always losing. I thought I had pretty much seen everything there was to see. There were always basic ABC patterns in poker, patterns that worked a huge percentage of the time. The table is uber tight? Loosen up. Crazy, loose table? Tighten the fuck up and pound your draws.

I dunno, things get strange when money is involved. Tilt is so subtle. Money is so fucking fungible. It flows to whoever has the hot hands and departs the cold as quickly as someone changing the TV station with their remote.

I'm not making excuses or rationalizations - but I think I just got lonely and wanted to do something with my life besides grind. It's that simple.

And now, here at the beginning of 2008, I'm back knee deep in the muck, playing more poker in the last month or two since Party Poker went away. I can't say I'm enjoying myself at the tables at the boat, but at least it's not painful. Wow, that's quite the ringing endorsement, eh?

Poker. At least it's not painful anymore.

Aw hell, it's not quite as bad as that. In fact, the last couple weeks got me reading Johnny Hughes' novel and then re-reading my favorite Ciaffone poker book, and hell, the ember is burning ever brighter.

And so I discovered that Tommy Angelo just published a new poker book called Poker Elements. So I ordered it immediately and now it's in my stubby, little sausage-like fingers.

I'm a long-time Tommy fan, so I'm expecting good things. He's got years of experience coaching poker, so I know even a few nuggets of wisdom will be well worth the price.

It ain't your fancy-pants math, cold-logic type of book. Hell, I've got dozens of those type of poker books. This looks like good brain food for the Zen part of your poker brain - a different way of looking at things.

And ultimately, that's all I ask from a poker book.

Read this if you don't believe me:
Reciprocality: The Cause of Profit at Poker

One quick segue before I get back to work. Long-time readers of G&P know I've lived without cable TV my entire life until the incredible shows on HBO drove me to subscribe. And while the epic greats ala Sopranos and Deadwood are long gone, I've finally discovered The Wire.

Wow. And while I'm only half way through Season Three, I'm willing to go out on a limb and proclaim this arguably the greatest crime drama ever. Writing from creator David Simon (a veteran crime reporter for The Baltimore Sun) and co-writer Ed Burns (a Baltimore cop) make this show riveting and a genuine treat for viewers who demand intelligent TV.

And I'm told it gets better each season. Good grief, what a gem.


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