Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Abstinence Sucks

Abstainer, n. A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. - Ambrose Bierce.

Lately, by the time I’ve gotten the family to bed, I’ve been too tired to play. I wanted to play. I really did. The little voice was reminding me I only have a small window of opportunity to play online most weeknights and that time is now. But, the stronger voice reminded me, “you are fatigued and not at your best, can you really muster your “A” game?” To which the answer was no.
Thus, I have played some but not much, lately. Unlike many things in life, you can’t “phone it in” in poker. Actually, you can but it isn’t much fun and it can be very costly. I haven’t been reading/working on my game, hoarding home game profits to fortify my bankroll, and so forth only to then donk off my hard earned winnings by knowingly playing my “C” game. Nope. Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent.
My desire to play online is still gnawing on me but the discipline I am learning from reading to improve my game is helping me reduce the incidence of my “C” game (which is exactly what I am playing when I am mentally and physically tired). I tried an “energy” drink but while that helped me play for a little while, it also caused me to not sleep well and be tired the next morning – which is not good and only serves to make me very tired the next evening. The good news is that while I have played less frequently, I have been winning more frequently.

Additionally, my writing muse seemed to temporarily abandon me. I suppose she inferred, if there was no poker then there was nothing to write about. I actually had several ideas but in her absence, I could not seem to compose more than a few lines. I have even, to some degree, enjoyed the brief break from grinding late night cash tables by reading and working on my game. I just finished No Limit Hold’em, Theory and Practice by Sklansky and Miller. I am still digesting the contents but it is definitely a solid work. I plan to acquire and read the Harrington on Cash Games books in the near future.

Meanwhile, check out this guy’s blog: http://thinkingpoker.net/Blog/

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Maximizing Expected Value

“A philosopher, who is not taking part in discussions, is like a boxer who never goes into the ring.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

There has been a lot of discussion about this in the poker blogosphere lately, so here is my opinion.
Poker is a mathematical game. Mathematical expectation should be a very important factor in the strategy and tactics one adopts and the decisions that one makes in any poker game. This expectation (also known as Expected Value) is factored into every decision a good poker player makes. Situations/decisions that are positive EV, are situations/decisions that over a long period of time and innumerable instances, always make money.
Negative EV situations/decisions are ones that always lose money over a long period of time and innumerable instances.

Creating a hostile playing environment (whether live or online) is always negative EV.

Here is why. Over the long haul, it only serves to reduce the volume of less serious players. Players that are skilled and serious about their game will not be discouraged from playing because they are playing to win irrespective of anything else. However, there are lots of players that just play for fun. These are not bad players at all. They just aren’t “into it” as much as some of the rest of us.
I believe it is positive EV to have as many of these somewhat casual players involved as possible. They are good people. They are fun to play with. They add money to the table if playing for cash and money to the prize pool of tournaments. All they do is add value - money, entertainment, as well as, comradery. Thus, they are highly desirable to have in any game. Why in the world would we want to create situations that discourage these folks from playing with us?

It just doesn’t make sense. Good players want to maximize positive EV.
Think about it. Until next time, good luck at the tables.