Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How Committed Are You?

How committed are you?Saw that Nick Schulman finished second tonight in the WPT Foxwoods World Poker Finals (the one he won two years ago). Was listening to Schulman on the November 11th episode of Poker Road Radio. Pretty bright guy, I think. And obviously a decent tourney player.

Among the subjects discussed included Event No. 22 of the 2007 WSOP, the $5,000 NLHE event that Schulman final tabled. That was the one in which cherub-faced James Mackey took down the final table in less than three hours of play -- just 48 hands total. A lot of griping at the time about the lousy structure having produced an all-in push fest at the end. Indeed, when they began the final table the blinds were 15,000/30,000 with a 4,500 ante. At the start of the final table, the average chip stack was around 711,000, meaning the average “M” for everyone was not even 9.

Apparently one player, Stuart Fox, literally folded his way to second place. Fox began the final table fourth in chips and did not voluntarily put a single chip in the middle during the first 44 hands, just watching as seven players knocked each other out. Poker Road Radio co-host Bart Hanson did commentary for that final table (it was one of the “sequestered” tables broadcast live on the web). Hanson said he got to see hole cards, and saw Fox once fold AQ-suited from UTG (when they were nine-handed). Schulman and the hosts all agreed that the fact that a player could actually fold his way to second place was a testament to how poor the structure really was.

While Schulman certainly didn’t “give up” at that final table, the structure clearly made things uncomfortable for him. (He ended up going out in Hand No. 21, finishing 6th.) As he discussed the event, Schulman praised Mackey, and in particular spoke of how well Mackey played short-stacked poker. Indeed, thanks to the crummy structure, everyone at the final table was essentially “short-stacked.” In praising Mackey’s play, Schulman admitted that he wasn’t as well-versed in what to do in what had essentially become a turbo SNG-type situation.

“[Mackey]’s studied all sorts of situations, [such as what to do] when he has a certain amount of big blinds from this spot, and [so forth],” said Schulman. “I’ve tried to do that, and you know I’ve learned as much as I can comprehend, but it’s still not anything that I feel . . . I don’t want to say it doesn’t take skill, because it does, but it’s more learned . . . . If you study and put the time in and learn what to do in certain spots . . . knowing that stuff is huge, and I just don’t know it as well as these other guys, so I’d rather not play with them.”

Schulman is alluding here to an idea that we’ve been hearing more and more frequently the last few months, namely, that these turbo (or “short-stacked”) SNGs have been “solved” (so to speak) by the top players who all know exactly when to push in all possible situations. As Schulman acknowledged the importance of study and preparedness -- suggesting how, really, anyone could know “that stuff” if he or she were willing to devote the significant time and effort to learn it -- I found myself thinking a bit about my own commitment (or lack thereof) to becoming a better poker player.

The truth be told, while I’m certainly a reader and a fairly good student, I know that I’m not nearly as committed to this game as I could be. I only play part-time, remaining at low stakes. I read a bit here and there, but without following any real program or serious plan of study. I sometimes harbor ambitions to learn more, to move up, and (most of all) to make more cabbage. But I know that for now, at least, “I just don’t know it as well as these other guys.”

Perhaps one day I’ll think differently about poker and gather up the gumption to make some sort of move. Then maybe I’ll try to learn “that stuff.”



Blogger loser64 said...

I understand how you feel, I have wanted to be more coimitted to my game, although I do not have the needed "gamble" in me yet. I have made 3 large scores (for me) in $5 online MTT,

Did I move up in levels, nom I cashed out of course the 2k was nice. I did however hit a bad stretch and my account dropped to $26 on Fullt Tilt. I have grinded it back up playing $2 SNG's. (I try to follow the 5% bankroll policy)

Next time I get a get a score I am ging to take a chance.

11/14/2007 12:11 PM  
Blogger Littleacornman said...

By "that stuff" I assume he's talking about ICM and all that involves.I'm not a Maths guy at all and much of it baffles me but I can follow the general principles and run poker stove calculations afterwards to help me improve.

I don't think it "solves" low level turbo sngs and certainly doesn't at $16 ( stars) and under as many players have no idea what their tournament equity is worth and will not fold when they're "supposed to".

Interesting thoughts as usual Shamus.

11/14/2007 4:19 PM  
Blogger WillWonka said...

I know exactly what you say as I have documented that I was lucky and built up bankroll from $60 to 14K and now have lost almost 80% of it.

How committed am I is a question I ask myself all the time as I never finish a book that I start. I'm trying some video training now to see if that helps any.

But yes, I need to commit more; but at the same time with a wife and 2 small kids, it is hard.

11/14/2007 5:50 PM  

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