A Little Respect
By Keith 'The Camel' Hawkins / May 2005
I was in Vegas recently and I made my usual visit to the Gamblers General Store to pick up any interesting new poker books that have been published recently.
One I bought was "The Making of a Poker Player" by Matt Matros. It is certainly fascinating and a very good read. It describes his ascent to the top of the poker tree from the hallowed halls of an Ivy League university.
One paragraph troubled me however:
"As for the tournament, I only survived it for four hours. Early on, I check-called for a third of my stack against a psycho who had gone all-in for T3,225 into a T175 pot. I called with top pair and one card to come, figuring I was probably way ahead. Unfortunately, my psychotic opponent had the nuts (yes, he bet T3,225 into a T175 pot with the nuts), and I was drawing dead."
Excuse me, Mr Matros? You called a huge bet with one pair on the turn and you are saying your opponent is psychotic? I think you have something mixed up here my friend.
But, believe me, Matros is far from alone. I well remember a "world class" player bemoaning his exit deep into a WSOP main event a few years ago. He said to me "I raised and the donkey moved all-in. It was such a huge re-raise he couldn't possibly have aces or kings so I called with queens". Needless to say the "donkey" had wired aces.
You often hear a similar tale from seasoned players who have been knocked out of televised poker tournaments. They moan and groan about how badly "internet players" perform.
I don't know about you, but I reckon many of these "internet players" play better poker than some of the guys who've been on the scene for 30 years.
I played in a £1,000 tournament at Luton a few weeks ago. I was startled to see how few of the field I recognised and how well many of the "unknown" players played. I concluded that many of these guys must have learned their trade on the internet where you get upwards of five times as many hands dealt than in live play. So, in two years, an alert newbie can learn as much as he could ten years of live play. Quite a staggering thought.
What I reckon is that we should give a newbie the benefit of the doubt. Just because you don't recognise a player doesn't mean he can't play or is a maniac.
When I suggest you should respect your opponent I don't just mean you should behave honourably and courteously towards him (although you should, obviously). I think you should respect a player's talent level until he definitively proves he doesn't deserve it. Just because a stranger plays unorthodoxly or bizarrely doesn't mean he can't play. Everyone does things differently. And differently doesn't mean mistakenly.
If you don't give your opponents a little bit of respect, I promise you your results will suffer because of it.
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