Monday, June 18, 2007

Go figure

I arrived in Las Vegas this past January as a tournament specialist.

And when I say specialist I only mean that I was way more experienced at tournaments than cash games. This was true despite reading over and over and over again that most poker professionals make their living at cash games. Not tourneys. Tourneys have too much variance they say.

So I've now been here for almost 6 months tracking all my sessions. And some interesting statistics are starting to emerge.


I cashed in 4 of my first 14 tournaments including 2 final tables where both times I chopped first place money.

I've failed to cash in 9 of my past 10 tournaments.

Cash games:

I lost money in 13 of my first 22 cash sessions upon moving to Las Vegas.

I've had 9 straight winning cash sessions. I've only come out in the red 4 of my past 21 cash sessions.

What does this mean?

The temptation is for me to spend most of my time at cash games. However tournaments are still such a beautiful thing as they provide the unique opportunity for a 6 figure cash day. Playing 2/5 no limit it'll take me a year to reach 6 figures.

However my turn around at the cash games does wonders for something called hope. Not the Hope, Arkansas that Bill Clinton spoke of. But rather the hope that I can make a living doing this.

Hope is huge for me. I have no mentor. I have poker friends I can discuss hands with but none of us knows how to make a living doing this. If we did we'd be doing it. I'm trying. But definitely learning and figuring it out as I go along. I'm a work in progress.

Poker is humbling. Every few weeks or months I'll have a moment where I take a huge step forward and figure something out. But then there are still plenty of days where I clearly see how much I still have to learn.

And of course having success isn't necessarily an indicator. I remember reading a Doyle Brunson quote regarding who the best young poker player is. And Doyle said something that stuck with me. I'm paraphrasing here but he said something like "We'll see in 20 years who is still here and who went broke. Anyone can run well for awhile. We'll see how they all do in the long run."

I have no idea where I am on the poker totem pole. Perhaps I never will. I played with Kathy Liebert last year at the Borgata (I'm paraphrasing again) and she said something to the effect of "I don't know why people criticize other player's moves. The game is constantly changing. Maybe someone is thinking on a completely different level than you are. You can't assume they're bad players just because they buck conventional wisdom and play differently than everyone else."

I thought this was so wise. So often players criticize others just because they play differently.
And so they automatically assume this other player is the fish. Yet at the poker table our job isn't to correct or criticize. Our job is only to counteract the strategy we are facing.

One could even argue that bucking conventional wisdom is key. To remain unpredictable.

And then in 20 years we'll find out who was right.


Check Raise Chin said...

Nice post Rob. I heard from someone that poker is just a bunch of decisions...the better your decision making is the bigger your bankroll becomes. It's that simple. Words of wisdom from a old guy playing poker for a living in AC. When I thought about it, I knew he was don't mean a darn thing most of the time but how you make your decisions is always the biggest factor on how you play and if you win.

FreeFormCoder said...

Bravo. The best way to maintain that hope is to reread this post when it fails you. Forget about right and wrong card choices, focus on the people and taking their chips, and remember you have the skills to be a great, and by great I mean rich, player.