Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bluffing Is Hard For Some

I've discovered another anomaly in poker play. It seems to be simple for loose players to "tighten up", but it is so very difficult for many tight players to "loosen up". I don't mean it in such a way that a tight player couldn't limp 2 suiteds or raise K9 from UTG. Of course he could. I mean one simple word: Bluffing.

When I first started playing poker, I would consider my play then as pretty loose. But then my play became tinged with remembrances of major losses and perceived bad beats as I went along. As I learned how I should be playing, I went to the other extreme. I played tighter than a banjo string. I was being bluffed out of many, many pots as players learned my by-the-book style. When I did have a hand, the pot was rarely large. I wondered why I couldn't make much profit and why my losses were almost always larger than my wins.

After some serious analysis of my PokerTracker stats and some adjustment in my psychological approach to the game, I found out that there was something missing from my game. Especially my ring game play. I started to assess what I was willing to risk and my feel for each table. Better reads and more appropriate stakes. I found out that a player could know everything about every type of odds. But if he doesn't have the timing and feel for when and who to bluff, he will just be an educated but losing poker player.

There was a some talk on CardsChat recently about players who DON'T know odds. They just play by feel. While I do admire those who can play this way with some success, they are also missing the boat. But all these people have to do is pick up a poker book and maybe a calculator to complete themselves. In my opinion, they have it easier than the odds-without-feel players. I believe they would also excel more in live play once they complete their poker knowledge.

Anyway, my game is slowly coming around as I learn more about the feel and timing needed for correct bluffing. Also, I just happen to be reading the chapters in Sklansky's "Theory Of Poker" regarding bluffing. That is what prompted me to write this post. It's like finding that missing tool under the workbench. Now my cheap generic toolbox is complete. But someday, I'll step up and get a set of Snap-Ons. Cheers.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Optimism on This Neteller Thing

Despite some pessimistic views on the exit of Neteller from the US online gaming transactions market and its effect on the online poker industry as a whole, I am going to stay optimistic for a few reasons:

  1. There's too much money involved. Seeing dollar signs, some human being somewhere will find a smooth way for US customers to fund their online poker play somehow.
  2. The only reason Neteller had to pull out of US online gaming is because those 2 brainiacs thought they could live in the US and not get hassled. I hope all the other e-wallet companies' founders and execs get smart from this. (Many believe that Neteller's statement that they were "planning on pulling out of US gaming anyway" is just window dressing.)
  3. The poker industry isn't stupid enough to let this damage it. There's too many people who will lobby for online poker to get the same exemption as horse racing and lotteries. Sure, it might take a while. But there's too much at stake to say "Oh well."

Anyway, it's too early for US online poker players to play the "Death March". Let's give things a chance to develop. Try giving the other widely accepted e-wallet companies a shot.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Poker Superstitions

I have a dumb poker superstition (or "stupidstition") that I can't shake off. It is that I can't bring myself to talk in detail about how well I'm running. I know it's stupid but in the past when I have talked about a good day or a good tourney finish, it seems like I bomb the next day. I can say just that I'm running "good" or "not good". No explanations, no adjectives like "really" or "pretty", and definitely no mention of numbers. It applies to both my speech and in print (like right here). I may post hand histories and such, but you'll never see me post my bankroll status or periodic results ("Never say never"). Like I said, I know it's stupid. But it's worked so far, so I can't bring myself to go against this quirk. Oh well.

I've heard of other superstitions like someone who must play the first hand of every tournament they are in. I've even read about one that is more widely accepted amongst old-timers in the poker world regarding $50 bills. They don't like to accept or carry them for fear of bad luck. The bad luck is rooted in 2 interesting facts that make sense. One is that $50 bills are the least popular bill under $100. It is seen less by cashiers, making counterfeits easier to pass undetected. The other reason is that a $50 bill can be mistaken for a $5 bill by anyone that may be distracted or even a bit drunk. Sounds pretty sensible.

I guess the only way a person can rise above his superstitions is to break them and prove them wrong. The problem is that it's awfully hard to get up the nerve to try it when money is involved.

Thursday, January 4, 2007 Gives In; Founder Still Defensive

It looks like came to their senses regarding the $19K Christmas Tourney scandal. After a sea of negative buzz flowed their way, they have decided to pay the winners the original amounts in order to restore the calm. Here's a good article on the latest developments (note the defensive tone in the message from the "founder"):

Even though PokerRoom may hope the storm is over, many still perceive the original "mistake" claim as second thoughts by PokerRoom. Some consumers familiar with the situation say that PokerRoom was probably banking on more than 950 entrants to the $20+2 tournament. This would have eliminated any cash overlay and the product prizes would be a promotional expense. But with only 265 players entered, the cash overlay was over $13K, not to mention the product prize costs. Due to this fact, many still think PokerRoom decided to claim "glitch" and recoup the huge loss directly from players' accounts.

Though the story has a happy ending, the extent of any PR damage to will remain to be seen.