Saturday, December 30, 2006


The Customer Is Always Right

When it comes to keeping the punters happy in live poker, it's a long road for me, but I'm moving in the right direction. I have a tremendous aversion to idiots who won't shut up and I really have to bite my tongue at the table quite a lot. If I can learn from anyone it's Dr Channing who is the master when it comes to keeping the donators donating. Well, apparently there is someone called Fred who is the master of the universe at this in the Vic, but Neil's right up there. Over a recent curry he was telling us how it didn't bother him at all that one individual in the Vic was obnoxious even by Vic standards because "he pays my rent every month". Winners, he said, have a responsibility to behave but losers can do and say whatever they like.

That's the attitude I try to take into live poker but, especially when I'm tired, I slip back into bad habits. One particular irritant in tournaments is the people who complain about playing short-handed. "We're paying the blinds more often" they will moan. When one guy took this line last night I cracked and asked him "Who are we paying them to ?". "What ?". "We're paying the blinds more, right, well who are we paying them to ?". "Oh, er, well, whoever". "So we're paying the blinds more to each other. That's bad". At least that made him shut up, but 0/10 for me there. Losers are entitled to whinge about everything if it takes their mind off being losers and it's my job to let them get on with it. And again at the final table, I snapped at a guy who played out of turn for about the third time to "pay attention" and he went right into one. He certainly over-reacted but I still shouldn't have said anything. I apologised to him about 5 minutes later and he accepted it, but it really doesn't pay to antagonise anyone in a tournament ; they are liable to call you down and/or raise your blind more out of childish spite and that's something I don't want.

Childish is the key word here. For example, any comment about slow play will likely as not make the target play even slower, however much it is to his own disadvantage. The way the blinds shoot up at Caesar's, you'd think a short stack would want to play some hands before they double again, but you (and I) would think a lot of things that other people don't. In a tournament it's not as important to make sure the guy comes back tomorrow as it is in a cash game, but it's still important to keep him happy and let him burble on about irrelevancies. As Douglas Adams said, if humans stopped chattering inanely they might be forced to think instead, and no one wants that. Least of all me :-)

I have no idea whether or not you are a naturally amenable chap, Andy (although I expect that you are), or whether the good Doctor C is equally amenable (although I expect that he is) but I have quite a bit of trouble with this "bite your tongue, they pay your rent" business. It's just a little bit too close to "you might as well get a job".

OK, if keeping shtum or making people feel good about themselves comes naturally to you, then making sure that you don't make a donator look like a tosser is fine; but if you have little patience for idiots in the real world, being nice to them just because they are losers seems just a bit too much like a financial transaction. Or, to put it another way, who's the whore here? This guy pays a few hundred quid a month to speak to you like shit, and you put up with it in return for the few hundred quid a month.

I'm just not up to that. I'd rather call a wanker a wanker and give up the money. And I suspect at heart, you might be the same.

However, it's definitely a bad move in tournaments. I think that your personality (quiet, unnoticed) works in your favour in tournaments, whereas mine (brash, noticed) works against me, because I tend to get called down more often. Which is one reason to stick to cash games live, because in those, I susually want to be called down.

So, don't feel guilty about letting off steam at donkeys. If it makes you feel good, all you are doing is paying money to feel good. Which is what it's all about, really.

Is one good reason to try to keep the emotions in check that it helps preventing tilt? If you're riled up over a chump it can't help the analytical side of things.

But maybe this is half the fun :-)

I know exactly what you mean Pete. I once read an account of some top pros buttering up a millionaire prince in a cash game and it made me feel sick. But I'm doing well so far this trip - I haven't snapped at anyone for slow play in tournaments. Can I last out for another 10 days ?

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