Why Poker Sucks

I thought I mightshare my experiences as to the potential dangers for AP’s who think, asI did, that they have some divine right to an edge.

Further research on the amount of luck involved in poker, particularly high-profile tourneys added further evidence to that claim. TArnold Snyder seems to be challenging the conventional wisdomabout tight-aggressive SNG play, which shouldn’t apply to lower levelsof play, but apparently, in my limited experience, does.

I’ve beenplaying poker off and on for the last few years. Game selectionmight make this fly if you have better access to a multitude of gamesthan I do.

I should put this in perspective: I am a professional gambler and have been almost all my adult life, I have made a lot of money, more so than I would have done in any kind of profession. I’ve developed many plays which some guys have used to make themselves millionaires. All things being equal you’d listen to the guy who mademoney over the guy who didn’t, but the correlation is much weaker thanpeople imagine, when you start running simulations and see how extremethe swings can be.

Several poker authorites made recommendations about NL hold’em and caused me to try out that game. Theformat is much more exciting and structured, and yes I know excitementis not something an AP should seek, but excitement is useful inmaintaining your interest and your concentration.

I built up a small bankroll at low-stakes and progressed throughthe stake levels winning at the 20% rate the writings on the subjectgenerally suggest is the best you can do, over hundreds of tourneys.The winnings were small in absolute terms because I (wisely as itturned out) worked from an initial bankroll of virtually zero, it isimportant that you don’t subsidize an unproven form of AP with provenAP winnings.

NowI’m at about break-even for tourney play. Or maybe itwas just bad luck.

Additionally, the players seemed to get tougher post-UIGEA. I stopped betting with top pair post-flop if myopponents showed counter-aggression, which is meant to be good advice.

Unfortunately this means you can get bluffed out of a pot moreoften, which as Sklansky says, is a mathematical disaster. Bizarrely, I probablywouldn’t be that profitable a proposition for world-class players, butcan’t beat regular medium-stakes games.

About six months I discovered sng’s. On the plus side there is no problem with payment (for meanyway) or getting away with big action, but these factors do notcompensate for the disadvantages for me.

Now,I’m fairly certain that if I spent a little additional time studyingthat I could win money long-term, at least at tourney poker. By goingback to the books, making detailed notes, hustling the best bonuses, Iwould make a big bet on myself to be a significant winner in % terms byend of the year. Additionally,knowing who to trust in the world of poker literature is verydifficult. At the end of the day I’m a little up on the whole pokerventure, but this is almost exclusively down to the fact I’m very goodat hustling insanely easy bonuses.

Thenit all started to go wrong. How many timeshave you read an article or a book which said something about thewriter having finished 16th runner-up in the Bengal elephant tourney orsomething? I want to know who is making money on a month to monthbasis, information which is impossible to get hold of.

Forthe player who is considering abandoning blackjack or some other gambling game they play profitability for poker the firstpiece of advice I have is-don’t take my advice, I suck at poker,haven’t you been listening?

Icommitted one of Mike Caro’s cardinal poker sins in that I bought a ton ofpoker books and never read them properly. The knowledge thatyou are at best going to win a few BB an hour is very psychologicallydeflating. First, poker isalways going to be a grind. That was great. Just trying to make a set on the flop with a pocket pair thenpushing, probably gives you a positive expectation.

Thefirst problem I have is that, relative to blackjack, poker is incredibly slow.Blackjack is like crack cocaine to the warm mug of cocoa that is poker.I found it is very difficult to adjust to the speed of poker withoutgetting frustrated and going on tilt. Thiswould seem obvious except I play exclusively at sites which were alwaysUK-only. It is cold turkey for the pokerjunkie. Over the last few years I’ve discovered anumber of gambling opportunities where the return was incredible andrisk negligible. I mean, I read them,continuously for hours, but the important fundamentals of the game arejust incredibly dull to learn for me, the only stuff that stuck was thelargely irrelevant details of advanced play. I wasquite surprised to learn my natural style is in the Brunson mould andclose to optimal. It is a grind. Finding those opportunities, and milking themeffectively, is difficult, but that is the type of problem I love tohave.

Poker is almost never like that. I startedfolding more often.

Lastnight I found myself playing an SNG and going all-in with 4 9 and jackon the flop. Such a huge lapse of discipline is not representative ofmy play (I’m not that bad!), so searching my feelings I reallized thatsubconsciously I just didn’t want to be there. Therecommended strategy is much more mechanical and easy to pick-up. Live-action poker, by contrast, is so incredibly slow: Iplayed with one group of old-timers recently that was so boring Iactually lost the will to live mid-hand.. After that I deleted thepoker software from my computer. Oddly this seemed to be because I becamea less reckless player and started following advice more. There is a disease that, and I don’t think it is unfair to sayAmericans suffer from this particularly though they are far from alone,leads people to assume that because someone is rich they know what theyare doing. At some point, whatever the form of gambling, I’ve beaten it, often when told that it was impossible. The recent Harrington/Sklansky/Snyder spat is indicative of this:Sklansky seemed to be defending a point that, it must be insanelyobvious to any one with an independent mind, was utterly illogical andindefensible. It may simply be the good players are just being wasted bynatural attrition and this is leaving only relatively sophisticatedplayers. You may think I’m just kidding myself, but I don’tthink so, mainly because just sitting out a tourney (try it) gets youvery close to the prize money, and sometimes actually into it, all byitself. I don’t disagreewith anything the authorites wrote, except in that the people-reading skillshe probably has naturally are not present in everyone. Mostly this has beento hoover up some incredibly easy-to-qualify for bonuses and tourneys.My ring game play is atrocious, I readily admit. This is particularly the case whenyou are just trying to put in enough minimal action to qualify for sometype of bonus or cashback online. No matter, the losses continued. I’d have made money if I wasplaying at a site where tourneys counted towards a bonus or got arakeback deal, but poker bonus hustling for its own sake just sucks. Mytime at other forms of AP has yielded returns which are several ordersof magnitude higher than the most optimistic assessments of returnsfrom continued poker play, even if I raised my stakes substantially andmulti-table and all the rest of it.

Underlyingall this are two serious fundamental problems however. Is that just the tip of the iceberg? You suspect so.

An article I read at blackjackforumonline.com by a guy I respect called Syph explains how thecommon advice to read Lee Jones and expect to profit online was bunk.That was a bit of a revelation, a little like the little boy shoutingthat the emperor had no clothes on.

There are too many charlatans at the top-end of the game thateveryone assumes are “experts” because they effectively won the pokerlottery. Even at low-stakes it is now quite common to have everyone inat round 4

Amelia Woodward

Amelia Woodward

Hopefully you will now be less likely to fall for a system that doesn't work. There are systems that can and will bring you rewards but it is imperative that you know what you are buying first.
Amelia Woodward

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