Friday, February 01, 2008

Poker Funny

I was over at Cinematical and they put up this post. Seems there's a poker mockumentary coming out in March called The Grand. Great cast (when was the last time I saw Chris Parnell?), and some of the funny in the trailer. It looks like they've nailed a few of your stereotypical players, and Phil Gordon has a great line. Doyle's in there too.

Plus, when David Cross gets his own poker site, it's got to be gold.

Anyway, the review is glowing, and at least with comedy, any poker screw-ups can be forgiven, although I have a feeling this one could turn out to be more accurate than some previous serious attempts.


Bam-Bam has a post that ends up talking about the difference between his live and online games. Funnily enough I was thinking similar thoughts today.

I think we all experience the problem of multiple distractions while playing online. It's also tougher to get a read on your opponents since the tells are more limited. Is that pause because he's thinking? Trapping? Or did his dog just knock over his drink? But very few of us are new to this game anymore, and should have refined our online skills a fair bit since we started. So what is it?

I know that lately my online game has atrophied. I sit down at a live table, however, and I'm honed in on everything. I'm making reads, picking up tells, and generally rocking the joint. Outside of two poor plays on my part a few weeks back in a live tournament, I've been solid. In fact, I've been itching for more live play of late because I feel like I'm primed for it. But online? Meh. If I force myself to pay attention, I can still make the reads and apply pressure in the right spots, but generally it's been very ABC for me of late. This has resulted in losses, which has resulted in disenchantment.

I think this is why mixing up the media is key. Live and online are very different experiences. Often, when you're failing at one, you can succeed at the other, and it increases your confidence. So I'll likely be hitting the club some time next week, and I've got a buddy who's got a Niagara urge coming on strong. Then there's Eh-Vegas in 3 WEEKS, which should have a few opportunities to sit at some real felt. It should be a good month.

Even so, I'll still be plunking my ever-widening ass down at my computer tonight and firing up a few tables. This time I'll have an energy drink in hand, and force myself to focus on the games at hand. I'm not saying there won't be distractions, but they'll earn only a small portion of my attention. I find silence and a bare screen more distracting than a TV in the background and a chat window or two. With luck, it will be a late night.


Alyce said...

You know, for someone who gets snarky about sneaky blog corrections, you do it an awful lot. :p

emptyman said...

Such is the nature of the online-poker beast. Basically, when I sit down, I'm invariably playing one of 2 games:

1. Poker as primary activity. This is like going to the casino, where I'm paying attention to every hand. Live, it's because I have nothing else to do, I'm a captive audience. Online, it's because I'm interested/invested enough to give it my full attention.

2. Poker as a background activity. If playing other tables, watching TV, cooking dinner, I can still functionally play one or more tables. All context info, reads, etc. is lost. This is rake-even or losing poker, it just is. It's sneaky too, because the "missing" information that could change it to winning poker is just that, missing.

So, I think the single most important thing you can do to fix the online atrophy is check in with yourself before sitting down:

1a. (tourney) Am I committed to play for the length of the tourney? Subtle, but I can't count how many times I've subconsciously bombed out of a tourney because after 2 hours I got bored/busy.
1b. (cash) Am I committed to playing a whole session? Trying to hurry up and win = bankroll suicide.

2. Is this game/tourney interesting enough to pay sole attention? (not counting whatever background noise)
Answering no to this is equivalent to setting the buy-in on fire. In this case, maybe look for a larger buy-in or shorter/different tourney.

Poker as a background activity must purely be for fun, expecting a profit is delusional.

Poker as primary activity is fun and profitable. But it requires a real commitment.

Be honest with yourself each time you sit down to play about which one you're actually choosing to do.

RaisingCayne said...

I'm confused Astin... how could you get disenchanted when you get QQ, KK, or AA at least once every other orbit!? Seems to me that your perpetual monster holdings would be enough to keep you semi-focused at least. ;-)

On a serious note, I really like emptyman's comment above... VERY accurate!

I believe many of us bloggers have very strong poker games in general, and a better focus on poker-game decisions (prior to our card decisions) would show up in results.

Astin said...

Cayne - ha! Actually, I've found I play way worse poker in my luckiest streaks, because I just assume the good cards will come. It stops me from making moves at key times, taking shots with drawing cards, and trusting my reads.

Empty - you're absolutely right. It's part of the reason I cut back on the 50-50 and the like, because I knew I couldn't play until 2am all the time if I went deep. And part of the reason I upped my limits was because I just couldn't take the lower ones seriously. Fighting for a pot that's worth less than lunch money or playing for hours to win the equivalent of a few beers just doesn't hold my interest. Those are "fun" levels now.

Plus, you forgot #3 - Life. Am I in the mood to play this, or am I just doing it because I don't want to deal with something else? Is something else on your mind, and will it distract you from the game? Can you focus whatever you're feeling into your play effectively?