Friday, March 21, 2008

You Might be a Predator….

Cards are war, in disguise of a sport – Charles Lamb.

During the farewell of the WPT shows, they used to say things like, “If you can’t spot the sucker at the table, you’re it”. They never say things like that anymore and it is no coincidence. You see, poker has a reputation of being predatory and that doesn’t sell well. The poker industry has made a significant effort to make the game seem less predatory and more friendly. We don’t want to frighten away potential feeder fish, we want them to feel comfortable and relaxed. We want them to think things like “any two cards can win” and “luck’s all in the cards” and “on any given day, you can play with the pros” and other such tripe.

I am not going to try to convince you poker is not a predatory endeavor because I think it is. However, what I am suggesting is that plenty of other life activities and even professions are predatory, too, and everyone seems just fine with them being that way. So, why is poker held in such a state of contempt? Doesn’t a fisherman go to the places he is most likely to catch a big fish rather than just fish in random places?
Most business endeavors are predatory. All Salesmen, certainly are. Lawyers are often compared to sharks for a reason. Heck, Life itself is a survival of the fittest contest, remember the idea of natural selection. It is a fact (and has been for a very long time) that the stronger usually prey on the weaker in any human endeavor. Better prepared lawyers usually defeat ones that are less so. Better athletes usually outperform the less gifted. Better students outscore those less intelligent or studious. So, why shouldn’t more skilled poker players usually defeat less skilled ones? Lambs do not devour lions, but Lions do devour lambs. What is the big deal? It is the natural order of things. It is Darwinian.

Do you stalk your prey by searching for the softest games?
Do you hunt your prey using table selection and position whenever possible?
Do you seek to take advantage of weaker players?
Do you seek to isolate your prey (separating him from the protection of the herd) whenever in a hand with an opponent?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you might be a predator. These are all predatory tactics.

I have read the sage advice of great players and the consensus seems to be that most of the money one makes at poker will come from weaker opponents. Embrace this concept. Live it. Try to identify your prey and play more pots with them. Identify your fellow predators and give them a little more respect.
And, remember, it’s OK, this is the natural order of things.

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