Saturday, December 29, 2007


When I wanted to tilt someone attacking my play, I used to type "poker is easy" into the chat box. It gave the illusion that I didn't know what I was doing and I was just there to have a good time.

But there's also some truth to it. The games seem as beatable now as they've ever been, despite the UIGEA, the spread of poker knowledge and cries that the boom is over. As far as I can tell, the most significant difference in the online poker landscape is the consolidation trend within the industry discussed by BillRini.

Some people say the games are tougher, and maybe they are. But I don't see it, based on my experience playing hundreds of hands every day. It seems like the players per flop figures displayed in the Full Tilt lobby have never been higher.

Are the games really more difficult? Or is this a case of weaker players faulting external events for their shortcomings rather than taking personal responsibility for improving their own games?

Perhaps it's both: the games are tougher, but the strong players adapt and thrive.

"(Dan) Harrington says he returned to the felt only after he started watching poker on TV in 2003. 'I said, I remember how to play that no-limit hold'em, and I know how to play it better than they know how to play it,' he recalled. 'That's what got me out of retirement and got me playing again,'" according to a CardPlayer interview.

Taylor Caby also has seen players try to take advantage of him after he spends time away from the tables. He says in a video that opponents attempt moves on him, but he simply adjusts his strategy to counter them.

There's little doubt these guys and plenty more like them are doing just fine.

For me, the fear of tougher games held me back this year more than it should have. I lacked confidence, and I doubted whether I would still be able to kill the games once the effects of the UIGEA were felt at the tables.

I remember sitting in an airport all night long playing 2/4 games on PokerStars, just trying to grind out a profit without thinking about it. I spewed a lot of money trying to rebuild my roll on Full Tilt on autopilot. I chased bonuses instead of profits. I focused on attaining goals rather than figuring out how to reach them.

Even when I ran white hot in fall 2006, I didn't feel like I was doing anything special to deserve this kind of success.

It's time for me to acknowledge my poker competence as a necessary step toward continued improvement.

Do the fish still donate their stacks? Are the games still good? Is the poker boom going strong? Yes, yes and yes.

But my victories aren't due to circumstances. I'm not going to "blame" poker society for giving me a free ride toward earning these profits. I'm a solid player who can beat most any game I play in, and my results directly reflect the effort I've put into my improvement.

Poker is easy.


Chad C said...

Post of the year? Everything you say makes total sense to me! I think that players are slightly better as a whole, but there are still a billion people who are clueless. This makes it hard to beat big tournaments in my opinion, but at the same time it also makes it easier because if and when they miss the BS you get huge stacks and more top 3s. There is a lot of luck in poker, but you are right, people who bitch and moan about poker usually do not adapt or even attempt to become better at poker....... They just think they are owed something because they know a little.

Wes said...

awesome post

kurokitty said...

So say we all!

Anonymous said...

Great post Mark.

SubZero said...

Lol at Kurokitty!

Great post though, poker is easy indeed.... for those willing to work at it.

Keep it up amigo, hope 2008 brings more successes both and off the table.

Grinder said...

I know limit is harder because mt poker rooms were taken away. I used to play $5/10 with 50% flops on the euro sites - find THAT at Poker Stars or Full Tilt.

So I gave up my cash cow for NL (my new cash cow of the future).

Grinder said...

"Even when I ran white hot in fall 2006, I didn't feel like I was doing anything special to deserve this kind of success."

I'm glad someone else has that opinion also. I have never been under the illusion that I'm good at this game. I did not play it as a kid or even the first 40 years of my life.

BUT . . . . I sure did stumble into being a long term winner SOME HOW!

I have to think it is not ME being good but others being bad - or as you say - me just being better then the people I play against!

Does that make me good?

I don't have a clue if NL games are tougher then they were - I was in another world.