Chapter 4

A Sprint To The Finish Line

It’s 2018 and the runners are starting to see the finish line- poker’s finish line, where the last dollar up for grabs is finally won. Once it’s finally over, people will drink beer and talk about the race that was run. Who won? How could it have gone down differently? How sad is it that it’s finally over? How sore and exhausted is everyone? What the fuck is everyone going to do now?

Allow me to answer those questions ahead of time…

Who won? The poker capitalists, the casinos/card rooms and the tournament organizers won easily. A few variance outliers (aka “the best pros”) won as well…

How could it have gone down differently? The poker player community (99.9% of the poker world) could have actually considered the long run (the tangible one- not the mythical one where we all run the same) of poker- you know, the game they absolutely loved and maybe even depended on… They could have used some deductive reasoning (something they used in poker hands all the time) to discern between good behaviors and bad behaviors for the game… They could have found the intestinal fortitude to start calling out/standing up to all those who were bad for the game <– is hard/uncomfortable for most to do, but the poker player community could have also easily united (unofficially even) and at that point, all the poker capitalists that were killing the “big game” economy (and inevitably poker as a whole via a trickle down effect), all the casinos/card rooms and tournament organizers that wanted to rake more than was reasonable/fair and all the players who were bad for the game- they would have had no chance!

Basically, all the runners could have simply just agreed to stop running. Poker was their passion, so why were they sprinting straight downhill to its finish line? Just because Mr. Panic shot his gun into the air back in 2007- after the economy had shit the bed, the original boom pros had pretty much all had their heaters unplugged and the first poker capitalists had arrived on the scene?

Hold up…

The economy has recovered nicely since 2007. The original boom pros are all sitting in dive bars somewhere scratching their heads and wondering wtf happened (well, most all of them are- one of them is spewing his brains out in a poker book atm)- so they are no longer a threat… Yes, I realize there is always a new batch of recently unplugged pros running as fast as they can straight to hell poker’s finish line (the poker pro revolving door is real), but they can be dealt with. As can the poker capitalists, who admittedly are stronger/smarter/more dangerous to the game currently than ever before.

Doesn’t matter…

The rest of us can all just stop running/sprinting. And once we get our balance back we can simply put our hands on our thighs, catch our collective breath for a minute and then lift our heads up and look around. We can stop being nits first- in fact, we have to. Then we can unite (unofficially or perhaps even officially) and collectively govern the game we love and maybe depend on.

We can turn poker back into a social game…

A few reminders:

  1. Poker only works as a social game, where those with money to burn want to sit down at a public poker table because it is fun- more fun than the pit games. *Poker is currently surviving/seemingly thriving as a “sport” because the masses have yet to realize that everyone who is winning is running hot/there are going to be no real long-term winners moving forward (outside of a few variance outliers)/it’s hardly the skill game it’s depicted to be.
  2. A “nit” is ANYONE that wants to take from the game and not give back to it. *Giving back does not mean losing back the money you won on purpose (obviously). It means keeping that money in play for a while after you won it (no hitting and running), making a conscious effort to contribute to a fun, social, gambling environment every time you sit down, governing yourself and others with regard to greed (seat changes, table changes, angle shots and other self-serving behavior that doesn’t work as a system/if everyone does it), etc.
  3. Capitalism doesn’t work in poker because poker is a zero sum game. The money that goes into the game needs to be spread out (after reasonable rake) amongst many winning players in order to keep games going/the dream alive (winning players are both unpaid props and necessary role models).
  4. Poker depends on A TON of edge available due to its slow pace and crazy variance. Once the masses are taught to play decent+, it’s simply not worth playing for real money—unless you like slow, stressful gambling on tiny edges.

Ahh, I got off track. Back to the answers to the questions that will inevitably come, once some nit lunges forward with all his/her might and finally breaks the tape at poker’s finish line…

How sad is it that it’s finally over? It’s pretty fucking sad, man/woman. Poker was such a great game. I mean how cool was it to have a group of strangers sitting around a table having fun and being social, talking about all the stuff they couldn’t talk about at work/home, maybe having a few drinks (if they didn’t have issues with alcohol obv), throwing money around loosely in order to feel alive inside/like life isn’t just a total grind- and then you die, gambling on unseen cards for the thrill of it- with most just there for the entertainment and a few there to win/provide the entertainment…

There is just something beautiful about ^^^. If you have the means, maybe have an artist paint a portrait of it. Call it “Poker’s Zenith”. Then put Poker’s Zenith on a wall at your home. And then the next time you really need a break from the real world (or perhaps you need to make a few bucks and poker used to be the way you did that), just sit down and look at Poker’s Zenith for hours on end. Hopefully that does the trick.

Because…

Poker—as we know and love it—is all but over. The finish line is just ahead. You can actually see it if you stop looking down at the ground for a second, as you pound the pavement so relentlessly with those blistered, weary feet…

See…

There it is!

OK man, we get it lol. No more answers to those questions, please. It’s getting too dark. Let’s move on…

Sorry. I’m just really passionate about this (if you couldn’t tell). Poker has been a huge part of my life. It has afforded my family an amazing life in one of the most beautiful parts of the world- San Diego. It has allowed me to give 2k gifts, 5k gifts, 10k gifts and so on to extended family and friends that needed it to fade foreclosure, to give their kids or grandkids a good Christmas- with the lights on, to make a much needed car payment, to pay off some high interest credit cards, to take a much needed vacation, etc.

Poker has also allowed me to be a dad (the single greatest privilege/responsibility/gift of my life- I’m sure almost all fathers reading this feel the same way). You see, my wife (well, ex-wife now) couldn’t get pregnant while working her stressful job. She was eventually able to quit her job though because poker was awesome and I was good at it… Poker has allowed me to be at EVERY big event in my kids’ lives (God bless that flexible schedule). It’s allowed me to take them to the beach on a Wednesday morning if I wanted to. It’s simply allowed me to be there for them- A LOT…

Poker has also allowed me to be a good consumer. More notably (I’m not much of a material guy), it’s allowed me to be an amazing customer at restaurants, bars and casinos/card rooms all over Southern California and Vegas; a customer who over-tips the hell out of the hard-working people serving him/those less fortunate than he (was) to have such an amazing job. Poker has also allowed me to make some bookies rich- but that’s another story…

Poker has been amazing to me… And mostly (once I saw the light back in ’08 and became DGAF- you can read about this metamorphosis on my blog site if you’d like), I have been amazing to poker as well. I’ve given more action with bad hands, done more flips with recreational players that wanted to gamble, told more jokes, made more people at the table smile, bought more drinks, etc- than anyone else I know, bar none…

I was the guy who “got it”. I won lots of money, year in and year out, and I gave everyone who lost that money maximum entertainment value. Folks were happy to lose to me (so many times they smiled and shook my hand as they stood up from the table, busted by my horrible starting hand or miraculous good one). They loved playing with me- even if they somehow knew I was really good (I’ve long done everything in my power—without being a total cheese dick—to make people think the opposite).

Because I never ran the race…

When Mr. Panic fired his gun into the air in 2007 and other pros (and recs) started rushing out of the gates, I just ordered a Stella and hung out. I kept smiling, letting everyone on the sidelines know that it was still cool to play in my games at least. And if some runner aka “grinder” aka “nit” wanted to sit in my game and try to be shortsighted and selfish, I always flipped the switch and went after him/her hard

You want to be a seat hopper at my table? I’m calling you out for it and ostracizing you into not doing it any more or leaving. Either result is fine with me. You want to angle shoot a rec player or a chill pro? I have their back immediately. You want to take forever on every decision? Fuck you; there are nine of us here trying to play. You want to hit ‘n’ run? Sure, go ahead, but don’t expect me to not saying something on behalf of whoever you just beat/anyone at the table concerned that they will be hit ‘n’ run as well if they gamble big and lose. You want to not straddle when everyone else has agreed too???

Well, if you are a rec player (unless you are a whale, then yeah man, live your life obv) I’m going to cordially explain to you why you should and just rescind my love for you if you still decline…

And if you are a pro (not a real one obv) I am going to make your life miserable at the table. Every pot you enter you are going to get my full vigilante attention.

Again man, we get it!

Yeah, my bad… The point is that I have long both won a lot of money playing poker and been very good for the game. In addition to being an ambassador at the table almost always (unless I was too tilted- my bad), I’ve also basically held church services for whoever wanted to see the light as well in my “2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)” thread on Two Plus Two Poker Forums for over 6 years now…

I am proof that actually thinking about the long run of poker and then behaving accordingly works very well. Not only does only doing things that if replicated by the masses would work as a sustainable system work out mathematically, but it also feels fucking great inside <– something just about everyone wants intrinsically, but very few ever seem to chase for some reason…

But now, I’m all but left in the dust. There were just too many sprinters to deal with, too few willing to stay back (there definitely have been/are some though- thank you). There is hardly even anyone on the sidelines anymore wondering if they should jump in my games. I mean the leaders of the pack (the Usain Bolts of nittery) are SO CLOSE to ending this thing. What’s the point?

Any shot the super nit sprinters/leaders of the pack will realize what’s behind the finish line before they actually cross it/break that tape? Not sure. All my words on poker forums and at poker tables over the years have opened some eyes. Will this book open more eyes though AND get others to start opening eyes/slowing down the herd as well?

I don’t know, but I gotta try. I won’t have any regrets once I finish this book. I’ll be sad poker is over (once it is finally over), but I’ll also know that I’ve done everything that I could to keep it going.

 

A) Everyone Becomes A Nit

As mentioned, a “nit” is a parasite… Someone who takes more than they give… Someone who wants way more than they need and has no problem infringing on others to get it…

A “nit” is NOT a tight player. I mean he/she can be a tight player and often is one, but that’s an old misinterpretation of the word.

There are countless ways one can be “good for the game”:

  • Provide action
  • Provide good conversation
  • Smile a lot
  • Have a nice appearance
  • Drink (this sets people at ease even if you are still good)
  • Be agreeable with whatever the majority wants
  • STRADDLE
  • Loan money
  • Take it a little easy on someone who has been getting beat up
  • Be a vigilante for the sake of the game (short- and long-term)
  • Etc

If you do a lot of ^^^ you can be squeaky tight and not be a “nit”. Conversely, you can be Mr. Action, but if you don’t do many of those things listed above (aside from the first one obv) you are actually a “nit”. A huge, fucking, “nit”…

(sorry)

I honestly don’t judge nits or blame them for behaving the way they do. I understand that for most it’s just instinct to only look out for # 1. I also don’t really believe free will is as much a thing as most people believe it is (but that’s another story/for another book).

But…

Even if you are only looking out for #1, you should still be good for the game! Being good for the game is +EV. Not only are you protecting/building your livelihood or favorite hobby <– the clear long-term GTO play, but you are also building inner peace and happiness <– GTO for the game of life.

Unfortunately, the rule is: Everyone Becomes A Nit…

I have yet to become a nit, but I am a lot less good for the game than I used to be. I’m pretty burnt out and my efforts (at the table mainly) just feel pretty futile at this point. Pretty much everyone else I know in poker though/pretty much everyone else I ever play with- nit. That’s right, N-I-T, nit!

That’s just the way it goes I think… Unless someone really starts thinking long-term/systematically about poker and then spews his/her thoughts in a book called, say, “The Long Run…” And then people who actually do care about poker (I know there have to be some) read said book, grant the author a generous amount of poetic license (while forgiving probably a ton of grammatical errors) and then just take the message and run with it…

 

B) LOL DONKAMENTS

If you are really old school, you remember back towards the end of the poker boom when everyone in poker was saying/chatting online, “LOL DONKAMENTS”. These folks were eloquently alluding to how silly poker tournaments were, how poorly many people played in them, and how incredibly much variance existed in them.

10 years later and tournaments are “lol” x 10. The only thing less true now than back then (and it’s a lot less true in general) is that people play tournaments poorly. Due to the short-stack/early street nature of poker tournaments, almost all spots that come up have already been solved by the poker mathematicians (who—if they thought long-term—would have kept their work to themselves obviously). Most spots (i.e. “What do I do with a 20-big blind stack and x hand in x position?”) are common knowledge. And some genius (I mean he might actually be a genius, I don’t know, and I doubt he did this to intentionally be horrible for the game and I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all—but I’m being sarcastic here/I think this was an extremely non-genius move) literally created an application for your phone that tells you which hands to shove all in with, given your stack depth and position.

Pause…

Any Joe/Josephina Blow with a phone can now play (at least) the end of their tournament perfectly- literally.

Pause again…

Any Joe/Josephina Blow with a fucking phone can now play (at least) the end of their tournament perfectly- literally!

^^^ is pretty crazy to me. It’s also pretty crazy to me that no one else seems to be the least bit disturbed by it. Well, ready for more crazy?

Poker tournaments are booming!

Even in 2018, where it’s next to impossible to get a decent big game going in poker’s cash sector, tournament attendance is through the roof. I mean this year was the second biggest WSOP Main Event field ever. And my god, all these multiple starting day re-buys for a month or whatever –> booming as fuck!

Tourneys are fun, bro…

I get that. I get that there is a very exciting element to tournament poker. I mean all your financial problems could go away in just a few days- if you get hit with a variance lighting bolt. And having a massive chip stack in front of you as the field narrows is undoubtedly a pretty awesome feeling…

But for me, playing a poker tournament also kind of just seems like buying a lottery ticket, having someone (not your state, for road repairs and shit- allegedly, but some fat cat you will never see) take a fat chunk out of all the money collected, and then instead of just waking up the next day and checking to see if you are going into work or if you can call your boss and tell him/her, “Hasta La Vista, Baby” (Arnold Schwarzenegger/Terminator voice- or perhaps “I’ll NOT be back.” <– I like that one better actually)—you sit with a bunch of disheveled dudes in weird costumes and smelly hoodies for hours on end, until someone inevitably holds up the winning ticket poker hand and gets rich.

Bro…

Ok yeah, tournaments are a fun gamble. I get that… But almost no one is doing the math on them correctly it seems. In general, no one can win without running like the sun- just like in all cash games that aren’t “big games”. I mean it’s literally a different five guys at the final table of the main event every year…

(yes I know there are very good poker players on outlier heaters- there always has been and always will be—and zero disrespect to Joe Cada or whoever—but come on.)

Shit remains- in my humble opinion, “LOL DONKAMENTS”

 

C) The Bubble Gets Too Big

2019 might have the biggest WSOP Main Event field ever. Seriously, it could… There will undoubtedly be waiting lists for days for cash games in all the major Vegas card rooms throughout the WSOP… There will still be (some) people talking about all the value in the multiple day re-buy events, or the cash games at Rio, or the single-table satellites… There will be nosebleed games in Bobby’s Room and Ivey’s Room… Everyone will continue to be staked…

(that’s right, I said it)

But what happens when either the backers or the horses realize it’s all a mirage- that poker is no longer the “skill game” it has long been glorified to be? How will all those attendance numbers look in 2020?

When happens when the few remaining long-term pros look around and realize they hardly recognize anyone anymore? What happens when they stop flopping sets and holding in big pots? What happens when a floor man walks by and accidentally kicks the plug to their heaters out of the wall?

What happens when people start paying more attention to the chips going down the hatch every hand (or half hour in time collection games) than they do their opponents stacks- because no one is buying in deep anymore?

What happens when the biggest donator in your area gets hit ‘n’ run/angled/colluded against/bored to death by some pro taking too long in some basic spot one too many times?

What happens when a training site customer asks for some data on training site customer results (i.e. how much do their win rates improve after a 90 days or whatever)? What happens when that customer then demands that all the customers whose win rates remained stagnant or decreased also be included in that data?

What happens when someone turns on poker TV and says, “Wait, this isn’t chess. This is fucking bingo. Why the fuck am I watching bingo?”

Pop!

 

Pre-order “The Long Run…”

AKA “Light a fire under my ass to finish this book!” I will donate $1 to the Las Vegas homeless for every pre-ordered book. All purchases will be refunded in full if the book doesn’t get published for any reason. It will be an Ebook or an Ibook (or both). Cancel and get a full refund at any time.

$20.00

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