Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Poker Is To Cricket As ...

I'm still here, chugging along. I played a couple of SCOOPs and FTOPS but nothing too serious and am still, in the words of Homer Simpson, trying to "dig up, stupid". I did have an interesting conversation though that I thought might bear repeating.

Richard Gryko used to say that playing a poker tournament was like building an innings in cricket. I'm not totally sold on the comparison but there are some similarities. Now, at this point, this kind of article usually starts talking about cricket and moves on to how we apply that to poker. What is (hopefully) more interesting about this one is that we're doing it the other way round - talking about poker and try to apply the lessons learned from poker to something else, in this case cricket.

If you haven't been following me on Twitter then why not, because I bestride the world of Twitter like a colossus. Or at least I retweet some funny stuff sometimes. But if you have, you will know that I've started playing cricket again. After 8 years out of the game I'm pretty rusty, and I wasn't exactly Ian Botham to start with, but there are few problems that can't be solved by throwing money at them, so I've been having some coaching.

My coach is a smart guy, he's played first class cricket and a little bit of poker as well. We were talking about how I was struggling to take my form in the nets out into the middle. The conversation went something like this :

Coach : When you started playing poker, it was for small money, right?
Me : Yes
Coach : And the first time you played for bigger money, how did you play?
Me : Very tentatively, of course. Shaking so much I could hardly pick up the cards
Coach : But now you're more experienced, do you play any differently for bigger stakes than smaller ones?
Me (light bulb above head starting to come on) : No, no. If anything you have to play more aggressively at higher stakes
Coach : Right! So when you go out to bat in a match, it's like playing for higher stakes. You're more tentative to start with but you know that you have to be as positive as you are in the nets
Me : That's it, yes
Coach : And when you have a big stack, or a small stack, does that change the way you play when you're in the game?
Me : Sure, that's one of the key things that determines your strategy
Coach : So having a big stack or a small stack is like going out to bat when its 80-5 or 200-5, it affects your approach but the basic foundation of the shots (or the plays) is the same

Ding! Going out to bat last Saturday and scoring 1 run off the bat in 45 minutes [1] was like turning up for my first ever £100 Stud tournament in Luton and crapping my pants because Devilfish was playing. It may still take a while for me to do myself justice in a cricket match but at least I know what the problem is mentally and how I can go about overcoming it.

[1] Fortunately the scorebook looked a bit better because I was given four overthrows, and my batting partner was thrashing it everywhere so we put on 70 lol.

Update : My coach has linked to this blog entry from his website, Revolution Coaching. If anyone has found their way here from that site, I do recommend Steve's coaching very highly. I'm currently holding down a place in a team at a higher standard than I've ever played before, I even scored 42 a couple of weeks ago - should have got 50 (bad beat). I wish I could be as positive about poker lol.

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