28/10/2008

How I hate School

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

I never did like school much, all those grim winter mornings trudging to do maths and English with teachers who had more issues burning than what we did. This dislike of school and that particular way of life never really left me so it wasn’t really a surprise when yours truly left without any meaningful qualifications to speak of.

Well at the ripe old age of forty, here I am again trudging back to school to learn yet another subject. I might not be walking across muddy fields to hang out with kids who place more emphasis on their nicotine intake than their education but it feels the same.

I am going back to school with regards learning online MTT poker as I haven’t really touched this avenue since I played online. In fact there are many avenues that I have little experience in and only the other day someone from the forum came to me to ask for advice on PLO tournament strategy. Never having played a PLO tournament in my life then they may as well have been asking the archbishop of Canterbury for advice.

But I thought at the outset how potentially problematical it could be to be going into this with a cash game mindset. I know that many top players refuse steadfastly to mix the two. I don’t play as much these days but my mentality is still with cash games ad I have been on a very steep learning curve this past week getting as many views and opinions as I possibly can.

But sometimes things take a while to sink in. I remember that it took me ages to realise the concept of pot odds pre-flop in limit hold’em when calling late position raises from the big blind. I would see a hand like Jc-6s in a $20-$40 game with a very tough button raiser and see the three and a half to one pot odds and figure it for an easy call.

It was ages before I realised the reverse implied odds of the entire situation were in fact hurting me and just what exactly was I getting three and a half to one on? The hand is not decided pre-flop and there are three further betting rounds including two betting rounds where the bets are doubled. I am out of position on all betting rounds against a tough player with a weak hand.

This type of reasoning is common amongst limit players even experienced ones and it took a very strong player to point this out to me some years ago. I may have been getting fair odds pre-flop but I sure as hell wasn’t getting good odds post flop as everything was on an even money basis.

This concept quantum leaped my play in the big blind in limit hold’em and especially against tough players. But we live in a far more high tech poker world these days where the average player is superior to the average player of five years ago.

But it sure felt strange to be playing tournament poker without looking at a HUD and I think that online MTT’s are going to take some getting used to. For the first time in absolutely ages it felt like I was playing poker on my own. Almost like driving a car after passing your test without having the instructor beside you.

But MTT’s despite the variance are a potential revenue stream because too many players do consistently well in them. I don’t think that I could ever be a full time online tournament pro as cash games will probably be where the money is but you have to explore certain avenues.

It is possible that cash games may become so tough online that to earn a certain amount say $200,000 requires playing at a high level and having a big bankroll because of the variance involved in betting tiny edges against players of almost equal skill. More and more NLHE players are migrating to PLO but this evolutionary process isn’t going to stop there... it never does.

It is well within the realm of possibility that players may actually convert to tournament poker in years to come if cash games get too tough, now wouldn’t that be something. But even in the events that many players label “crapshoots” then there are still methods to beat these things and the dead money is as ever present as it always is.

With tons and tons of satellite qualifiers who basically haven’t a clue about tournament structure and correct tournament strategies and who don’t have the incentive to return to “school” then these events have to be profitable if approached right. If I start playing online tournament poker full time then the world really will have gone bonkers.

About the Author