28 November 2005

Why: Cheetah, Jordan, or Gordon Gekko?

I've had some time to consider the mystery of why I play poker, as well as why I've crashed my online bankroll through jumping to limits beyond my funds. It is very important to understand, as it is a broader exploration of who I am currently and what I need. With apologies to the excellent bloggers that I read regularly (most of which are listed to the right), I'm writing and exploring at the same time (meaning I don't have some grand, well-thought-out theory on this).

My motivation could be purely financial, like Gordon Gekko from Wall Street (played by Michael Douglas). "What's worth doing is worth doing for money," but I don't think this is it. With a family of five and an executive background, it would be extremely difficult to ever make enough money playing poker to replace my income. If 2bb/100 hands is a good poker player, then I would need to average 40 hours/week and beat $20/40 or $30/60 consistently. I'm certainly not good enough for that. I've been able to stay cash positive at $15/30 both online and in live cash games, and I guess it is possible to find $15/30 juicy games both live and online. It would be such a significant change in lifestyle that it would be hard to approach. Having said this, Cash is one of the absolute metrics of poker. It is a zero sum game, so consistently being up means something. Doing so at middle limits means that you would be up against a better cast of characters. I don't see the finances as the goal, more a measure of success.

The competitive fire may be a motivation, a la his Airness, Michael Jordan. I've always been extremely comptetitive, and my vehicles to foster this trait have dissipated as I've reached middle age (40). A bad knee that hasn't responded to surgery has tossed out sports, including tennis and hoops. Golf is one avenue, but it is both time consuming as well as I don't have a regular crew to compete with. That doesn't leave too much. There is a touch of this, but it is more about being solid, successful rather than beating others.

Which brings me to the cheetah, my favorite animal. The cheetah is fast, and only uses its speed in bursts when it needs to. Cheetahs wait and wait, then utilize their gift to attack, to jump on the action. Is it the burst of action that I crave?

Is that what drives me? I don't like to think of myself as an action junkie--I'm not going to jump on any prop bets on the color of the next car coming through the red light or anything. I think I'm exploring a couple of questions simultaneously. Why did I jump up to $30/60 and NLHE600? I think it was a combination of depression at times, trying to double down when sliding, and unknown causes. It was never making a stab, taking a shot at a higher limit. Why $15/30 rather than $5/10? Boredom, lack of real feedback vs. time invested (playing for an hour or two online and being up $50 vs. playing an hour and being down or up $400). The jumps to NL in general I need to study, as I think they have been generally not well thought out and have cost me severely.

Online vs. cash games is also something that I need to figure out. I would say I enjoy cash games probably 10x more than online. There are so many things about it. The anonymity of walking into a cash game, whether I'm at the Bellagio, Foxwoods, Casino Arizona, or some obscure Indian casino in Indiana or Washington. I really love that I can sit down among who knows whom and jump right into a game. I love the chips, I love the tough laydowns, I love rifling (or riffling or something) my chips, I love stacking chips. I love check-raising, I love getting out of the way. I love racking up chips, asking for one or two more racks. I love hundred dollar bills. I love tipping. Even the horrible beats and donkey play is easier to stomach live. I love listening to idiotic experts, I love spewing one-liners and wild banter. I love seeing the controversies, seeing management come to the table to figure out what happened. I'm so bad at big parts of live play also: I don't think I can pick up a single tell on anyone, I have no short-term memory or interest so I don't remember much about anyone, I don't think of anyone sitting in the 7 seat or the 2 seat, I don't move seats, I don't move tables. But I love seeing it all. The Asian grinder. Mother (every casino has at least one person named Mother). The old fart. The college kids. The hotties. The arthritic lady. The whale. The Eastern-European-scary-guy. The Somali chip stacker. The drunk. The scary Dragon Lady. The old Frog guy. The star sightings and not going gaga over them (e.g., Hansen, Negreanu, David Williams, Jennifer Harman, etc.). And, of course, the Strawberry Julius at the Bellagio. Being able to get the poker room rate when I stay at the Bellagio. Having someone write my name on the list without me telling them who I am.

Online misses all of that, and maybe online is just a simple bad mistress, and I demean myself by even playing. I just don't know. I know I want to jump back in. But I don't want to unless I have a gameplan, unless I have rules of engagement. I'm leaving for Houston tomorrow and will be gone until Christmas, probably in Houston for a week, jumping around the US for another week or two, and in the UK, Holland, and maybe Paris and Germany for a week-ten days. I'll do some more pondering, then I'll fire some more in here. Any thoughts or mental meanderings are welcome.


Blogger Pinky said...

If you're in London with time to kill and fancy a game/beer then let me know. It's always good to meet new bloggers.

My email's mrpinkmcpink[at]another[dot]com

5:30 AM  
Blogger PokerSweetHome said...

Ah, the utopian view of live poker. So eloquently written that I want to get up from my desk and head to the nearest card room. If I get fired it's your fault.

Cheers from London,


5:56 AM  
Blogger Otit said...

I like what you said about the anonimity of playing in a card room. I get a big kick out of being an unknown. Like you, I'm using the money to keep score, and also to judge whether or not I am becoming a better player. The cheetah is a GREAT analogy for selective aggression.

7:56 AM  

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