“Why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker EVERY Year? What are they, the luckiest guys in Las Vegas?” – Mike McDermott (Matt Damon), Rounders (1998)
Makes you wonder that. Sure it was almost 15 years ago when the statement was made and it certainly was true at the time, but not so much these days. True, the upper echelon of the poker world consistently make final tables and deep runs in to cash all the time, which I have no doubt comes down to skill. But we’re all about pub poker around these parts and I really wonder sometimes: what makes a good player? Does true skill enter into the pub poker arena? Are my fellow players taking the game as seriously as I am? Do some of these players even have a clue?
Now I’m not here to bash players or the way they play (or maybe I am, let’s just see where this goes!) but I certainly have my mind blown quite regularly by players who I’m told are “pretty good”, or “very solid”. I have to say I’m finding (depending on the venue ), players are fitting in to a new categories:
- * Players there to have a good time, have a feed, a bevvie and to hang out with their mates. These players are indifferent as to how well they do in a game and are just happy to play cards with their friends. I’m going to call these players “Socialites”. If you find yourself on a table with 4 or 5 Socialites, you’re probably in for a fun night, playing can be all over the shop, but you’re sure going to have a laugh. You’ll be faced with players shipping in with complete air, simply because their drunken buddies made a small raise and mateship mind games’ begun. Generally one of these players will do well, get lucky and pick up most of stack from their unlucky friends.
- * Players who take the game seriously and are out to win leader boards at venue level, state level and ultimately take out the particular organisation’s Main Event. I call these players “Pub Sharks”. These guys circle the waters of 3 or more venues a week and are generally pretty solid players. You’ll find them near the top of your leader board in a number of venues and you’ll generally know who they are. They’ve been around a while and usually command respect from the fellow players. Play careful against these guys, they want your stack and if you’re not guarding it properly they will eat it!
- * Players who claim to know what they’re doing, seem to do quite well in tournaments and local venues, but at the end of the day they are just fish. Not the cute little fish that most “Pub Sharks” look to devour. No these fish have teeth, they’re more like piranhas. And just like the piranha, they are mindless killing machines. Their J5 diamonds decimates your Aces or Kings like a hapless springbok slipping in to the Amazon! You stand no chance with your monsters, because no matter how bad their hand or how much money you throw at a pot, they’ll call you down and get there, EVERY time. I call these players “Nofunkloos”. Say it fast and you’ll see what I’m talking about, they just have no…clue.
It’s these last guys that baffle me completely. The way they play and the way they make excuses for the way they play as if it was part of some brilliant poker strategy. Then of course there are the people that defend them saying how great they are, inflating their egos and reinforcing their ‘awesomeness’. I’d really love to get in these guy’s heads and see what’s happening inside, although I suspect it might be a lonely place. You’d get the feeling someone used to live there, but has long since departed for a higher plain of intelligence and lets face it, it wouldn’t be too hard to find. These guys forget that the last hand you played was AQ suited, the hand before that JJ, the hand before that KK and before that TT with a T hitting the board hard. So you just know your Aces are in deep trouble, because this guy just picked up T2 of diamonds and as we all know, diamonds are “just so darn purdy!” Since he just took down all of those previous hands from you with similar junk, both suited an unsuited and the fact the player next to you lets you know, ”this Noflunkoo is a pretty good player”, you should know your Aces are now morphing in to a springbok that’s got one foot in the water.
Now Bennymacca’s Law of Variance states,”Stick around long enough and these players will pay you off more than you more than times than they have taken from you”. Unfortunately Swanky’s Law of Gremlins says, “Don’t get these bastards wet, because they multiply 10 fold”, meaning Variance don’t mean shit!
So while we aren’t playing at the World Series of Poker and this aint Vegas, I think it’s safe to say old Mike McDermott’s closing speech in Rounders doesn’t hold much water these days. Luckboxes are gonna get lucky, often. So how do you combat these guys? Don’t ask me! As you can tell by my elaborate bad beat story above, a tight image, only playing and showing down monsters and big raises don’t mean squat to these guys. So if you know a way to beat them, I’m all ears!
I think I’ll stick to being a “ Socialite”.
Aggressive Poker is Winning Poker – Swanky