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As a kid, I think it’s safe to say, few people knew less about the pop culture world. By the fifth grade I could name the person who held every cabiniet post in the Reagan administration, but I couldn’t name 3 songs on the “American Top 40.” I remember, at the sbobet day camp, with a group of kids whose stay-at-home moms really needed a break, they’d play name that tune with current pop songs. The first kid to guess from my team guessed “Private Eyes” by Hall and Oates and, because I now knew the name of THAT song, I guessed it for every song thereafter. Evidently our counselors didn’t have that album.
Also in the fifth grade I started wearing parachute pants, and hanging out with kids who would carry strips of linoleum around from house to house. Back then the single greatest songs in my world were, “Din Da Da (Din Do Do)” from the BREAKIN’ 2 : ELECTRIC BOOGALOO soundtrack, and oddly enough “1999” by Prince. My neighbor Michael had both albums, and even then I resolved to make New Year’s Eve 2000, the greatest party of my life.
I’ve had some truly fantastic year end celebrations. In ’94/’95, the lovely not-yet-bride and I rang in the year with a few college buddies at a bar in Amsterdam. For several years the biggest party in town was at the house of Otis. Last year, I hosted myself.
Oddly enough, the best years of my life came after the WORST New Year’s parties. Like in 1991, when my friend Matt Piatt and I hung out on his couch and watched Sportscenter. Whoooopeee! The next year, my senior year in high school, ranks in the lifetime top 5.
2000 was like that too. I spent the night at work, I was live on the air at midnight. The worst planned, worst executed, and in retrospect, funniest night of television I’ve even been unlucky enough to witness. I had a fantastic year.
THE YEAR IN POKER
2005 was, with almost no comparison whatsoever, the peak of personal poker so far. I won a rather signifigant amount of money in my live play, at least large compared to buy-in. I broke almost completely even during the Vegas trip in the summer, and won a little in December. I had a rather exciting year in G-Vegas.
Perhaps most important is, with the exception of a few relatively brief droughts of self confidence, I leared to trust my reads and make the plays I knew were right. I’m sure CJ and Otis will back me up, I’m a far better player than I was 12 months ago. It’s a tribute to the you, dear reader, that I remain the worst player alive.
Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned :
1) You can tell relatively early in any game, ring games mostly but tournaments too, just how much the buyin means to any given player. I first realized the power of the overstepping mind during the WCOOP on Stars. Funny thing is, I was given a free entry into a $200+rebuy event and treated it like I’d bought in for $20K. I did use the add-on at the break, and that too $200 from my own pocket, but it was never more money that I’d be comfortable with in a normal game.
Actually, I’m very comfortable at about that limit. In Vegas, I’ll come loaded with quite a few buyins for the $200 NL game and won’t blink an eye if the first couple of them vanish. Actually, I would be upset, but I figured I’d try to look cool with the preceeding sentence. In G-Vegas, I regularly play in a $200 NL game every Monday night. The buy-in has never been a problem there.
The problem with the WCOOP was, I was well aware of the other players. I knew I was swimming with some real sharks, real poker pros, and I was timid in that pool. Normally, I think you know this by now, I’m an unusually aggressive player and that’s the style that suits me best. Somehow I grew timid in that uncomfortable surrounding and I made several plays I immediately knew were wrong.
Players outside of there financial comfort zone will be passive more often than not. It is profitable to take advantage. Recognizing this will allow you to take advantage of a timid player almost from the start… without having to watch 2 hours at the table first.
2.) Look for the fish in a wolf-suit. Every homegame in America has at least one. You know him well. He’s the guy who likes to break down each hand, usually in an incorrect fashion, using cool poker words. He hasn’t been at your table for 5 minutes before he’s hit you with “nuts, suckout, gutshot, big slick, big lick, and ‘The Brunson.'”
Dr. Pauly’s written a good bit about this. He’s absolutely right. A good poker player goes to great lengths to convince you he sucks. There are hundreds of people in G-Vegas who actually think BadBlood’s name is “Mr. Donkey” because its the only thing he calls himself. BadBlood is excellent at poker. Beware the guy who says he sucks. Of course, I am the exception that proves the rule.
Usually there is a tremendous amount of ego involved in poker. It’s why so many of us have a hard time writing about our really bad runs. People want to fit in and be percieved as a solid player. Of course, if you are a solid player, all those chips you keep winning will sorta make that case. If you suck… time to start talking.
I GREATLY strengthen my aggression against a guy who likes to talk poker.