Raise or Fold:  Learning (From) Poker

Writing and playing poker as if they were activities worth doing well.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Real Motivation

Run, don't walk to read this post by Listening. A sample:
Hey — I like respect, too! We all like to have self-respect. We enjoy the respect of others. But if these things are the primary objective, instead of the natural result of your poker efforts — you've started a step behind and you'll never catch up. There is nothing for anyone to achieve to be worthwhile: you have value because you exist. And your value exists irrespective of anyone else's opinion of you. If you don't know this, you lack self-respect. If you lack this, you cannot respect your opponents. When you show this in play, you simply demonstrate your own weaknesses to your tablemates and make yourself exploitable.
Who knew you could learn this playing Razz! (I kid. Poker is poker.)

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Poker Laughs (3)

I just assume that everyone reads Dr. Pauly. But for those of us who play Razz (and what masochistic poker player does not?), or who have ever written a haiku (and who among us has not?), today was a special day. Check it out.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Some Solace

I managed to cash in an online Razz tournament this evening. (Thank god for Razz.) And I won a satellite seat which I promptly traded in for the tournament dollars. And then I won a single table sit'n'go, largely because (mirabile dictu) my Aces didn't get cracked.

Other than that, the astounding suckoutage continues in both cash and tournaments. My favorite being my bustout from the 100K earlier tonight when my AK went down in flames to A2, as my opponent flopped the wheel. Spectacular!

Just when you think you've seen every possible way to lose when massively ahead, the poker gods come up with new and creative ways to mess with your mind.

I think I'm going to revert to playing nothing online but sit'n'gos and Razz tournaments for a good long while now. I'm feeling pretty punchy from my recent results in cash games and hold'em MTTs, and I might as well concentrate on my roots until my confidence returns.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Let the Third Month Begin

Razz Victory Lobby

And let it begin with another Glorious Razz Victory!

This was a hard-won battle. I had already come back from dead last place, with only 120 chips, to get to second place, and I was damned if I was going to down without a serious fight. My opponent was an insane card-rack, and arrived at the final table with 75% of the chips in play. We ended up going at it heads-up for probably half an hour. I started the heads-up portion of the program out-chipped about 5 to 1, and just hung in there with what can only be described as grim determination.

I can't really account for why Razz seems to be my game, but I am SO going to play the Razz tournament at the WSOP next summer!

Current combined live and online bankroll: 109%*

*Note that bankroll numbers include the deduction of expenses, so that is net growth in bankroll. And if we were looking at returns in terms of amount of bankroll actually put at risk at any one time so far, the return would look more like 200%.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Day 42: Razz is the Nazz

Okay, so I didn't win this one outright. After playing for about 4.5 hours (nearly an hour of which was short-handed), once the chipleader and I got heads-up we agreed to chop. Considering that my opponent had me outchipped by about 5:1 at the time, I think I made a very good deal, as I nearly split the prize pool 50/50. I like to think he realized that I could stage a comeback victory at any time (LOL).

I don't even remember how many players this game had... I think it was over 90. May I just say: I am the Razz Queen.

And on that note, I'm going to bed.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Day 15: Razz Me, I Can Take It

I can't remember the first time I played Razz, but I do recall that my take-away from that encounter was something like, "You mean, the person with the worst hand wins? Obviously, this is the game for me!"

The only time I won the Ferguson (Full Tilt's hugely popular $1 multi-table tournament that starts at 1 am daily) outright, the game was Razz. Of course the primary reason I was successful on that occasion is that I suck at Razz just marginally less than most people who barely play the game.

Something about the sheer perversity of Razz tickles me. I love that it is an inverted version of Stud. I love that there's no such thing as qualifying your low. I love that straights and flushes mean nothing.

Razz is surely the version of poker that is played in Hell. Or maybe Heaven.

One or the other, anyway.

The point is, I'm not the worst Razz player in the world, and I enjoy playing it. I lose Razz tournaments for two reasons, and two reasons only.

  1. I get bad cards. Razz is very card-dependent. If you're showing a pile of bricks in your up cards, you simply can't win the hand.

  2. I fail to fold when is self-evident that I am beat. I'm looking at a hand that's undoubtedly a made 7. The guy is BETTING it like it's a made 7. I have a 9 low. Anyone looking at my hand can see this. I probably can't even beat a bluff. Why do I call the bet on fifth street? Why why why?

It's a bizarre form of tilt, and if I could rid myself of it, I'd win most of the Razz tourneys I play. (I actually believe this.) You'd think that would be incentive enough to get me to stop doing it. Just writing it down in black and white makes me realize how utterly idiotic it is.

There are two major kinds of poker mistakes: mistakes of ignorance or insufficient analysis and mistakes of emotional origin. Both result in play that is not properly guided by rationality. It is staggering to me how much more easily faults of the former type are corrected than those of the latter. I'm guessing this is true for most people of at least average intelligence. It is much easier to learn how to think one's way through a situation than to maintain true emotional equanimity under stress.

The fundamental Theorem of Poker (viz. Sklansky) states that we will profit if we can consistently get our opponents to play differently than they would if they could see our cards. Optimal strategy, then, would seem to suggest not only striving for intellectual excellence and emotional equanimity for oneself, but also that we should seek to make the essential cognitive and emotional tasks of poker as difficult as possible for our adversaries.

I believe in courtesy and proper etiquette at the poker table (as indeed in the rest of life). I have no interest in engaging in needling or taunting or mean behavior. Aside from being morally dubious, it's just not my style. But it is worth considering how one's play and demeanor might nonetheless accomplish those aims without becoming crude, cruel, or otherwise inappropriate.

Any suggestions?

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