Sunday, June 11, 2006


Trying Too Hard

When you've been playing a while, you think you've seen it all when it comes how badly people are capable of playing. Yesterday, though, I saw a bone-chillingly bad play that I can still hardly believe in the cold light of day. Speed tournament, 22 left, paying 18, though first prize is of course about 20x 10th through 18th. Obviously this is going to be an awful bubble fold but you won't believe how awful. Blinds 2K-4K (or might have been 3-6). Passed to the button with 23K, he puts 13K in. You would think he would just move in but people do this for some reason. The small blind does move in, he has the button covered. Big blind passes and hero goes into the tank. Surely not. Come on, he can't raise to 13K and then pass his last 10K getting 4/1. Oh yes he can !

What was he thinking ? Really, that's not a rhetorical question. It's useful to try to work out why people do the things they do, in order to predict what they (and others like them) will do in the future. Over the last few days I have been reading through Matt Maroon's blog. Matt could well be the most hated person in Internet Poker, and in fact Felicia crowned him as "Most Unpopular Blogger" at least once. I know we'd like to think that Lord Miros holds this title but, face it, he's too damn lazy to be the most anything. Matt backs up his considerable capability to enrage the "sewing circle" of bloggers and 2+2ers with a prodigious workrate, which is why it's taking me days to go through his archives :-)

Hated or not, he clearly knows what he's talking about. And one of his main themes is that when bad players try to play well they become even worse. Anyone who has ever frequented a "strategy" forum for any time knows how the stupidest posters of all are the ones who get poker advice soundbites stuck in their head and try to apply them in every situation. "You should only go broke with Aces". "You can't win the tournament in the first hour but you can lose it". Blah de fucking blah, on and on trying to rationalise their own cowardice. One can only assume that our hero's record is stuck on raising 3 x the big blind because "that's the right amount" and saving chips around the bubble so he can "make the money first and then try to win the tournament". The beauty of it though is that someone chugging beers and playing for a laugh who would just go "an Ace, fuck it, all in" is in fact playing much, much better.

A corollary of this that's also a theme of Matt's blog is that when you really understand how a game works, the "book" players are in many ways the most exploitable of all, and that's something I might come on to later this week. As for the hero, he made the money, but of course he didn't make the final. Still, "you can't go broke making a profit", right ?

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