The concept of “luck” has been floating around the poker blogosphere for a couple of days now, and, as The Luckbox, I felt compelled to weigh in.
It started with Jordan and moved to Biggestron. Upon reading their posts, all I could say is:
Lamenting the affect of luck is a good way to ignore the real problem.
I’m glad I didn’t say more because F-Train wrote everything I wanted to say, but much better than I would have.
[Update: Scurvydog adds some great fodder for this discussion, saying, again, what I would if I could write. And judging by the comments, I’ve offended with this post. I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m not. Poker is a game of skill. It is a game of math. Sometimes you hit and sometimes the donkey hits. If you can’t tailor your game to accomodate those contingencies, then go play craps.]
Okay, on to the fun stuff…
The Pros Speak in New Orleans
“Are you guys all wise guys?? Don’t be a wise guy. Not with me. I don’t deserve it.”
–John Bonetti, at my table in the WSOP Circuit. After the situs online target of his ire wished him luck, Bonetti responded with, “Good luck to you, I don’t need it.” Apparently, he could have used some since he didn’t cash.
“If no one ever got a hand in a tournament, I’d win every one.”
–Mike “The Mouth” Matusow at the $10/$25 NL table next to mine, doing his best Phil Helmuth impersonation.
–Phil Ivey after Gavin Smith busted him in the $10K WSOP Circuit Event. Phil held AK on a K-high flop but Gavin held KK.
Getting Stuck On Purpose
The bar was just about to get loud. The G-Spot is one of those places that is a comfortable watering hole until the band starts up. Then it gets loud and it’s hard to hear each other talk. I was with BadBlood and my buddy, T. We were talking marriage and family. For the 30-40 married man, it’s one of the most important discussions to have with your like-minded friends.
It was during this discussion that I had an odd poker epiphany.
I think I get stuck on purpose.
I’m not fully in tune with this topic yet. I’m not even sure where I’m going with it. I can only sum up the general premise. Then, perhaps at a later date, I’ll be able to fully explain what I mean.
Of course, I don’t want to get stuck. I don’t want to have to play from behind. I don’t ever want to lose.
However, in dealing with my wife, I often start off by acting badly. Whether I am being selfish, lazy, or otherwise manish, I tend to not act in a way I know my wife wants. After doing this for a given amount of time, I realize I’m not acting in a winning manner and starting acting–in earnest–the way I know I should behave around my wife. It usually takes twice as long to make nice-nice as it takes to make her mad. Had I just acted right in the beginning, life would’ve been better all around.
The same, it seems, goes with poker. I begin many sessions by playing loose, aggressive poker. I may not be playing badly, per se, but I am not playing my usual game. When we play a game that is not our “A” game, we aren’t playing optimally. As such, I begin many (if not most) sessions by getting stuck a little, or, more recently, a lot. Then, I spend the rest of the session getting even. Since it is possible for me to get even and sometimes actually recover enough to make a profit, I have to assume that I have the ability to play the game at that level. It’s just a matter of convincing myself to play the right way.
So, I’m not getting stuck on purpose in either case. In reality, I think there is a selfish gambler in me that wants to see how much I can get by with. Can I play poker six nights a week with setting off the bad marriage-o-meter? Can I check-raise with second pair and get my opponent to fold? In most cases, the answer is no on both counts. And yet, I try.
There is a reason why good people can get divorced. There is a reason why good players can lose. I am fortunate that my marriage is solid and I am always improving my married man behavior. I’m learning that it’s better to give up some of the selfish things I enjoy for the relative tranquliity of not having to dig out of a hole.
Now, I need to teach myself to do the same in poker.
That is, the game starts when I sit down. Not when I’m stuck.