There’s something that’s always bothered me about the poker world. Well, not so much bothered me as left me feeling highly inadequate. It seems that many of the high-profile players have amazing credentials. Chris Ferguson has a PHD in Artificial Intelligence. Perhaps this doesn’t intimidate you, but it makes my brain seem like the size of a peanut. So, yeah, he’s amazingly smart. Dutch Boyd graduated with a Law degree at 18, which, I’d probably be more impressed with him if he hadn’t lost huge points for the “chip trick” segment from last year’s WSOP, not to mention the whole PokerSpot debacle. Stu Ungar had a brain the size of a hippo. Enough said there. Granted, I'm sure they just didn't plop down at a poker table and beat it immediately.
You hear it in poker commentary all the time; “So-and-so is a master of this”, or “This guy has won every single Brain Olympics since the beginning of time. And a couple before that”. Without fail, someone always mentions how Phil Hellmuth was the youngest WSOP champion, or how Paul Phillips is a multi-millionaire from a dot.com startup(which might lead me to another rant about poker nicknames some time in the future.) So many of these people are not only exceptional poker players, but hold other great talents, achievements, and distinctions, that it can only be daunting to a just-starting poker player. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to be king of the poker jungle. I’m not even looking to be king of the poker nursery school. It’s still daunting, nonetheless. It makes me question my abilities, and what I am capable of in the long run.
While randomly hopping between RGP and Two Plus Two, you will, without fail, run into a post detailing certain odds about how much of a favorite you are in a given situation, and some StasticsGeek spouting off bullshit that means absolutely nothing to me. And it never will. I’ll never be a stats sort of guy. Pot odds, well, that’s easy. I can’t, however, compute what the odds would be of someone holding higher trips, in a 4-way pot, all on the fly. That’s a bad, random example, but you get the idea. And there are people out there that can, and will probably give you that number 6 places right of the decimal. Math and brain no well eachother work with much. Now that I reread that, it sounds more like Yoda, than Homer. (Simpson, not the poet)
See, the only real talent that I have is that I can make people laugh, and I'm not so sure that I can translate that into something that would benefit me at the poker table. I suppose I could try and make people laugh so hard that they pee, and when they waddle to the bathroom, I yoink their chips and run for the door, but something tells me that humor doesn't work so well on the thick-necked guys down at cell block 6. All of these things combined make me doubtful of being anything close to resembling a proficient poker player. And that's my goal. Not to be the best in the world. Not to make fistful, upon fistful of money, though that certainly wouldn't be a bad thing. I just want to be decent.
This brings me to Chris Moneymaker, With all the hype behind him, I went to his site, which just happens to be the cleverly named Chrismoneymaker.com. I read his bio, and I was so happy to see that he's never read a poker book in his life! You have no idea how happy that makes me, as I have yet to read a poker book. Not that I haven't meant to, it just hasn't happened yet. It's just nice to see a Joe Everyman actually succeeding without having relied on the existing poker knowledge base. Sort of refreshing, don't you think?
While not reading poker literature can have it's disadvantages, right now, it's not a bad thing for me. Yes, I'm missing out on knowledge that might help me, but it's also helping me by not cluttering my brain with information that I'll rarely, and more possibly never use. I've been meaning to borrow "Super System" from a friend, but after seeing that it's close to 650 pages, I have a feeling that's just too much in the way of poker concepts for me to process presently.
For now, I just need to work on my game by learning how to read betting patterns-which, to me is much more important than, say, having the Hellmuthian ability to "stare into someone's soul"(cough,bullshit,cough)- and taking better notes on people. And on myself, as well. I've been using PokerTracker much too sparingly, which is a -EV move if there ever was one. Studying my own game is the only way I'll ever be ready to jump into much more complex areas of this twisted game, and get out of the inadequacy mindset.