The Long Run… (Intro)

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“Ok, what is this ‘The Long Run…’? Why should I read a poker book written by some lol live pro who uses his Two Plus Two screen name as his pen name? That seems pretty lame and I’m skeptical as hell, honestly. Most poker books are complete jokes. I mean look at this entire section, aside from ‘Super System’ and ‘Theory of Poker’ – which weren’t even written this century, how many of these books are actually worth my time and money? Win me over in the first few pages, Mr. DGAF, or I’m out of here. Lots of good shows on Netflix I could be watching right now… 

Got it. Thanks for at least giving me a shot. I will do my best to make this worth your while- and your 20 bucks…

“You’d better…”

Poker players use the term “the long run” all the time. They use it as a threat or a dis at the table when they are heated: “Hey bro, keep over-playing ace-king like that and you are gonna go broke in the long run” (as the speech recipient scoops up all the speech giver’s chips obviously). They use it when consoling friends after rough sessions: “Sorry you keep running like garbage man, but you know it’s all gonna even out in the long run” (as the unlucky friend sits at a casino bar and stares blankly into his beer). They use it on poker forums: “Blah-blah-blah, blah-blah-blah, blah-blah-blah the long run(back and forth in strategy threads, as they debate complicated and unique spots with strangers). And so on…

“The long run”, as we know it, is every poker player’s Promised Land. It’s that point in time where we finally get rewarded appropriately for our good play- or punished appropriately for our bad play. It’s where the results lines on our graphs finally meet up with the performance lines. It’s where our sample sizes are not only significant- they are true…

(Insert “The Long Run” graph here: a crazy results line and a steady performance line meeting up on the far right)

“The long run” is poker’s tag line, its declaration that poker is in fact a skill game- despite all the short-term variance that allows the best players/best hands to get felted so often. It’s the constant reminder/reassurance that each player’s “equity” (the quantification of “Expected Value”/”Expectation”) will be realized/corrected to in the end, if he/she keeps at it- even if he/she has been running extremely cold or hot/grossly under- or over-realizing his/her equity in recent times…

Note: equity is grossly over-realized EVERY HAND, simply because each winner starts the hand with significantly less than 100% equity (each player at the table actually starts with 11% equity- in a vacuum/all things being equal)- and he/she usually has significantly less than 100% equity all the way up until the river card is dealt (and even then he/she has significantly less than 100% equity if there is a significant chance he/she might fold). However, people generally only take note of the over-realization of equity (and variance in general) when a big all-in pot is won by a big underdog…

“Unbelievable,” the 5-10 NL table says in unison when the boss who 5-bet shipped Ad4d pre for 1k gets home vs KcKh….

Rarely do people ever even consider all the variance that caused all the money to go into a big all-in pot the way it did (there are infinite variables every hand: table dynamics, game flow, CARD DISTRIBUTION, random actions, distractions/mistakes, etc), nor do they note the over-realization of equity when a big pot is won by a big favorite. ***Sometimes the favorite has the underdog drawing dead when the money goes in (and so there is no over realization of equity to note after that point obv); almost always he/she does not…

The 5-10 NL table yawns in unison when the KcKh holds vs the Ad4d in the same scenario as above. No one considers the pocket Lebrons holder “lucky”/to have over realized anything when he/she scoops that 2k pot, even though (pre-all in variance aside) his/her scooping is actually an over realization of equity by 50% –> in a perfect—all in equity distribution—world, the dealer would have shipped him/her $1335- not $2000, and the A4 boss would have gotten $665 for his/her efforts/equity- not just an insincere knock on the table from a neighbor, essentially telling him/her, “THAT’S POKER, nothing you could do…”

“The long run” in poker is quite simply the variance finish line, where the +EV players cross with all the money and the –EV players cross with empty pockets. It’s the point in time when everyone’s under- and over-realizations of equity have finally evened out to 0. It’s the very backbone of our belief that skill/quality of play is almighty; that variance is merely the custom path we each take to get to our inevitable/earned points on the “Everyone Graph” (you know, the theoretical one where all players’ results are logged and we all currently have stiff necks from looking up at Fedor Holz, Dan Coleman, The Magician, Rick Solomon and others)…

OK, stop reading now if you believe in Santa Claus…

“What?!”

The universe we actually live in: Skill/quality of play is very much a factor in our poker results, but variance is almighty- both in the short-term and the long-term… The game is played too slowly, there are too many variables each hand, the conditions are too ever changing, and there is too much of a butterfly effect for it to be any other way –> No poker player ever comes close to approaching “the long run”– not the one that everyone in the poker world refers to anyways…

“So then what is this book going to be about? Seems pretty dumb to entitle a poker book ‘The Long Run’ and then in the introduction—before we even get to the table of contents lol—come out and state that ‘the long run’ doesn’t even exist in poker- that it’s basically a romantic ideology, a myth, an alternate reality… I mean props on the successful bluff I guess (I won’t lie, you got me with the ‘Promised Land’ stuff- I mean who makes a graph there?), but in addition to killing the premise of your own book in its intro- like a crazy person, you do realize that you basically just called all your potential readers (aka ‘customers’) huge fish for thinking poker is a skill game?”

Sorry. I have a bluffing problem (ask anyone who plays with me :o). But I am not calling anyone a “huge fish”…

It’s human nature to want/need to think there is a good reason everything happen- a legit cause for each effect. Life is a lot simpler/less confusing when you just believe in hard work and/or karma and that everything is earned/luck is just short-term and it evens out in the end <– is a much less weighing approach to life than constantly putting things under a microscope and looking at them through a lens of objectivity and logic (and then realizing so much of everything that happens is just random/so much in life is actually not what it seems).

Note: I truly believe a valid argument can be made for just blindly believing that everything in life is “fair” and “as it seems” and for thinking critically as rarely as possible in order to avoid exhaustion or any potential dark realities… For example, it’s both very draining and very discouraging when you watch documentaries and learn that so much of the food in grocery stores and at restaurants—the food we have been eating all our lives—is basically toxic garbage, that just about all big corporations in the world are shady to some extent/they ONLY care about profits and growth, that governments are generally in on all the corporate shadiness/they are corrupt as hell from the top down/they are not truly about the people, etc, etc, etc…

Instead of watching documentaries and stressing yourself out and having your faith in humanity tested (if not destroyed), why not just smoke weed and watch comedies, and go through life as an “intentional sucker”, if you will? Seriously, that would be a pretty next level approach in my opinion. You would have a lot more positive energy and smiles than all the truthers, that’s for sure…

Santa Claus isn’t real, people are generally lazy (myself included), and those that aren’t lazy are generally short sighted, self-serving, and immoral (whenever it benefits them to be that way/they think they can get away with it)…

And oh yeah, poker is not a skill game- not the way you think it is

Skill/quality of play is very much a factor in our poker results, but variance is almighty- both in the short-term and the long-term… The game is played too slowly, there are too many variables each hand, the conditions are too ever changing, and there is too much of a butterfly effect for it to be any other way –> No poker player ever comes close to approaching “the long run”– not the one that everyone in the poker world refers to anyways.

(sorry for the verbatim repeat/the lazy copy and paste job, but ^^^ really needs to be understood before we go any further- and I like the way I said it the first time)

Along with rake (more on that beast later), variance (aka “luck”) simply reigns supreme in poker- and it’s becoming more and more a totalitarian dictatorship everyday. The “Variance in Poker” graph is a straight line from the 8 to the 2 on a clock, starting at “NL boom” and ending at “current”…

(insert “Variance in Poker” graph next to a clock graph)

See!

There is no ‘Promised Land’ in poker (unless by random/miraculous occurrence- never due to adequate sample size)- for anyone. There used to be a hint of one/poker used to be MUCH more “a skill game” than it is now (there was much more edge available –> variance had much less influence on results/skill had much more influence), but those days are over…

 

Poker has evolved like crazy in its 15-year existence since the NL boom…

For all intents and purposes, poker—as we know it—was born when ESPN aired Chris Moneymaker shipping the 2003 WSOP Main Event. And Moneymaker coolering Phil Ivey and Sammy Farha (and everyone else in that tournament that was way better than him) was poker’s immaculate conception, if you will…

Poker has literally been “solved” by GTO experts. They essentially turned the game into an elaborate math equation- and then they created “solvers” for the general public to use to play “perfectly”. *Solvers are programs that quickly run the necessary equation for you when you enter a decision point. They are commonly used today in the study of GTO poker strategy- and sometimes during actual play. All the trade secrets—the ones that made poker extremely profitable for all the working pros and some of the recreational players/whoever really wanted to put the time and effort in to learn how to win—have been revealed/sold to the masses (for a fraction of a penny on the dollar). And poker has become a sport, a sport played for money- money that can only be won if “the ball bounces your way”…

So I ask you, Mr. Poker Pro That Makes Fun Of All The Poker Books (jk man, I agree a lot of poker literature is fraudulent/hilarious), how can poker be considered “a skill game” when skill doesn’t decide the results of the game/it isn’t even close to the biggest factor in deciding them anymore? How is poker “a skill game” if no one controls their own destiny/the results lines never even come close to meeting up with the performance lines on our graphs- unless by random miracle? How is poker “a skill game” when almost every poker pro became a pro due to a massive positive variance spike (jackpot share, tourney score, an epic run of cards, one anomalous session/pot, etc)/almost zero pros made the ascent to “pro” unaided by such a spike? How is poker “a skill game” when no one can overcome “running bad” (Phil Ivey is dead in just about any game these days if he runs bad!)? How is poker “a skill game” when nearly 100% of the current high stakes player pool (and this could be said at any point in time since the boom) has run well above expectation- and all the biggest winners have run lotto winner good (sorry guys, you just have)? And lastly (and no offense to the dudes, I just have to use them for this- really wish I didn’t, it’s zero reflection on them as people and maybe they have gotten better) how is poker “a skill game” when Chris Moneymaker, Jamie Gold, Jerry Yang, and Qui Nguyen—who would all be dogs in your average 2-5 NL game—are all recent World Champions???

“I never said poker was ‘a skill game’. I know there is a ton of variance. I just never really obsessed over it before- like you seem to have… Having said that, there IS edge available (I mean you are a pro, you have to believe that), so I don’t know what to call it actually…”

Let’s call poker: “A gambling game with edge available- if rake isn’t too big and people aren’t playing GTO.”

Let’s also note right now that poker’s health/survival depends on A LOT of edge being available (I’ll explain why soon). The more edge available, the more poker actually resembles “a skill game”. The less edge available (see the next time you go play anywhere), the more poker resembles an intense game of baccarat where all the players are laser focused on the patterns on the board above them- mental masturbation over a slightly weighted coin flip, if you will…

“That’s a reach, comparing poker to baccarat lol, but carry on…”

The amount of edge available in poker is determined by rake, lineup, atmosphere/vibe, structure, and very, very important (and never really considered/discussed/managed before)- away from the table behavior

When there isn’t A LOT of edge available poker dries up (starting with high stakes games and moving downward) –> if we don’t make some very simple—yet also pretty drastic—changes soon–> R.I.P. Poker- “A beloved game by many, especially by those who ran like the sun…”

(pours out some of his 40 oz in anticipation)

I too used to believe poker was “a skill game” where the best players win the most money in the end- where the guys and girls at the top of the food chain/on my TV are there as the result of playing better than everyone else (and that used to be the case a lot more than it is now- but it never truly was the case)… I just happened to log more hours than just about anyone (at least since the NL boom- and this book is basically about NL, aka “The Cadillac of Poker”, aka “The only game that matters”- in my humble opinion), and after about 4,000 hours of watching poker superstars come and go, I started to grow skeptical that poker really was as much “a skill game” as I had always thought/been told it was.

For the last 16,000 hours or so at the table (told you, I’ve played A LOT), I’ve had the nasty habit of quickly recapping (in my head of course, not out loud or with anyone knowing- that would be awful) all the variables/factors that led to the results of each hand. And so it just sort of happened that I became obsessed with variance in poker. It wasn’t/isn’t a pleasurable obsession by any means- and what you uncover is far from romantic obviously, so I completely understand why almost all other players (even really smart ones) refuse to fully acknowledge the magnitude of variance in poker- much less constantly examine it. Because of that though, it’s pretty much just been me (that I know of) constantly “peeling back the onion” to find out what is really at the core of this game…

“So then you are going to be our poker documentarian, huh? You are going to tell us about how we can be less cancerous- like they do in all the cow movies these days? And then we are subsequently going to raise awareness and change our behavior- and then the cancer is going to start declining rapidly? Like what happened with smoking, and now seems to be happening with food?”

Exactly…

(back to the long-winded intro/variance tale- take a quick break here if you need)

I came to realize pretty quickly after I started studying variance that I should take a lot less pride in my upswings, and that I should (at least try to) feel much less shame/guilt for my downswings. I learned pretty quickly that poker is merely a game where the best players position themselves for the best results, but they may never win a lot of money- and some pretty bad players might win heaps…

Note: One of the top 10 players I EVER played with (and I’ve played with just about every hotshot in the world since the NL boom, because they all come to Vegas in the summer and there aren’t many high stakes games to play in- even during the WSOP) went from a million dollar/year win rate—and looking into buying a yacht to chill on when in San Diego—to suddenly not being able to win, in any game, for an entire year. And this was back in 2009, back before poker was even close to the variance fest it is today…

^^^ never got his yacht, and he was sleeping on my couch for the last couple months of his poker career. His career graph looks like the front side of Mount Everest for about 2 years (I hope that’s a steep mountain- I know it’s tall at least), and then just a slight wheel-chair ramp down/on the right side of three stairs—if you will—for his entire 3rd (and final) year as a pro –> for 12 straight months one of the world’s best/healthiest rock climbers could do nothing but roll down that ramp- and then he was gone from the game/no more data to graph.

 ^^^ knew what everyone had every hand. He could do poker math as fast as anyone. He could calmly ship 5k for value and he could calmly ship 5k as a bluff. He could look at you and talk to you during a hand and get you to believe the opposite of the truth about his hand/exactly what he wanted you to believe. His anticipation of who was going to do what in hands was downright scary. He didn’t tilt. And oh yeah, he was social as hell/an excellent game builder.

 But then suddenly, he just… could…not…win. A guy that—no exaggeration—was as likely as anyone to become a poker legend (if he kept running above expectation, as he had for his first two years/it’s very possible he could have for another three years or whatever- certainly long enough to get rich and famous in the poker world), couldn’t book a winning session at 10-20, 5-10, 2-5, whatever.

Side note: the one thing ^^^ did wrong (and obviously it had next to nothing to do with his variance plummet- just a pet peeve of mine that I have to mention) was make people show their losing hands/failed bluffs after he called them and they indicated he was “good” (so short sighted, don’t do that!)…

(The truth about certain things in life is discouraging- but then, as they say, it sets you free!)

I should also say (even though once I say it, you will be like, “yeah, duh man, makes perfect sense, why you gotta be captain obvious?”) that the rise of variance in poker—that graph that goes from 8 to 2 on the clock—directly parallels the rise in the general public’s level of play…

(insert the two graphs)

“OK man, I think we get the point. Poker is a lot more bingo—especially now—than people think it is, and it is a lot less chess. So then what the hell is this book about- since we already got that out of the way?”

 

This book is about the tangible long run of poker- what the game itself looks like down the road, and how our actions and behaviors will decide it…

Most people aren’t very adept at looking at the tangible long run of most things in life. I know I never have been very adept at it. If I had, I would have never played football as a kid, I would have never smoked cigarettes, etc.

Oddly enough, I have long been very focused on the tangible long run of poker. Yes, poker is my livelihood, so it might make a lot of sense on paper that I would want to do everything in my power to protect it and boost its health- both in the short-term and the long-term. That said, I honestly feel that—similar to my full acknowledgement of the insanely massive role variance plays in poker results (and in large part directly because of it)—I have long been all but on an island when it comes to actively doing things on and off the table to really help the game flourish (in a way that is sustainable). And there are 100 million poker players in the world (according to Google)! Surely some of them should/would also want to do their part- even if poker isn’t their livelihood. I mean I’d still want to help the game flourish (in a way that is sustainable) even if it meant less to me- like if it was just my supplemental income, or even if it was just my favorite hobby/time out of the house…

Maybe I’m too much of an idealist for my own good (my friends tell me I am). Or maybe I just have too much invested in poker and I depend on it too much (I got mouths to feed!). Or… Maybe I’ve just become a common sense expert (when it comes to poker- I’m still an idiot in pretty much all other aspects of life). And maybe my obsession with variance/the great respect I have for it, combined with my anomalously vast experience at the poker table, combined with the fact that I have already posted millions of words on the topic online/within the poker community, makes me the perfect candidate to write the poker book that attempts to save poker from its impending doom.

(that’s right, poker is a pretty big bubble right now in my opinion)

At worst, I hope to open up some eyes/spark some discussions with this book. At best, I hope to slam a whole syringe full of common sense into the heart of poker and bring it back to life like John Travolta did Uma Thurman in the movie Pulp Fiction…

“Bring it back to life? What are you talking about, man? Poker is huge. It’s everywhere. You just said there are 100 million players in the world!”

Maybe “bring it back to life” isn’t the best way to put it (actually I know it’s not, but I had to use that Pulp Fiction analogy once it popped in my head- don’t hate). Instead, think of it like this- if you want to be a stickler:

Poker has cancer (boom, told you I was your documentarian!). It’s that young, perfectly fit, famous athlete enjoying his shine to the fullest- not realizing he/she needs to get to the doctor ASAP because there is a tumor growing inside of him/her and one day he/she is just going to drop dead and everyone will be shocked and deeply saddened…

Sure, a lot of people are currently playing poker/the game seems to be very much alive and well on the surface, but no one is really winning much any more without running like the sun <– is the tumor that is discreetly killing poker just below the surface…

Poker depends on “winning players”- guys and girls that consistently win significant money without needing to run like the sun. Not only do winning players prop up all the “big games” all across the globe (they open up the shop each day- and they keep it open until the last customer leaves), but also they are necessary proof that the game can actually be beat, that poker does in fact have enough edge available to make it worth playing. And then of course the biggest/longest-term/most charismatic winning players (Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, etc) eventually become poker legends that greatly help carry and grow the game…

Note: “big games” (in this context) are games where enough money goes into the pot consistently that the rake is no longer insurmountable–> significant money can actually be won without running like the sun (assuming of course that not everyone is playing GTO). “Big games” generally start at $5 big blind games…

Poker depends on winning players + winning players depend on big games = poker depends on big games (“Oh, I’m so good at math!”- Jay-Z) –> big games are the most accurate barometer of poker’s health.

Big games must exist/run regularly in order for the small games (the vast, vast majority of all games) to flourish, so even the CFO of a poker room loaded with small games should want to promote his/her big games- even though they are likely greatly inferior to the small games on the old P&L sheet. There simply has to be somewhere for players to (at least aspire to) go to once they are good/experienced enough, where money can actually be won– the end goal of almost all poker players.

(more Debbie Downer stuff, sorry –>)

Big games are currently all but flat lining all across the globe- at least in public card rooms (where they most definitely need to be played- more on that later too)…

Sure, a nosebleed game will pop up in a public card room from time to time, but almost all of those games are mirages (pun intended, figure it out)- organized collusion rings where one or two recreational players gets chopped up by the rest of the table- usually a bunch of grinders and one capitalist poker pro that has pieces of and agreements with all the grinders. And that capitalist pro goes to great lengths to not allow other good players to play- unless they agree to be under his thumb as well.

(Pretend this isn’t the case all you nosebleed game organizers- I dare ya.)

There are also some (much less than there used to be- and way less juicy) high stakes games (10-20+) that run pretty regularly at the elite card rooms like Bellagio and Commerce (West Coast bias- my bad, I’m sure there is some stuff at Maryland Live or wherever too, as well as in other countries obviously) that are in fact (not just in theory) available to the general public.

And then of course there are a reasonable amount of mid-stakes games (2-5 and 5-10) still being played in card rooms all across the globe. Like the high stakes games though, there are fewer and fewer mid-stakes games (especially 5-10) being spread every day, and they are becoming less and less beatable all the time…

The biggest reason for the decline/sparsity of public big games (nosebleed + high stakes + mid-stakes) is that instead of being played as social games (as most small games are), where wealthy recreational players can enjoy themselves while engaging in their favorite hobby/brain drain for a relatively small fee (in terms of EV), and winning players can earn a decent living for providing a good service –> building and maintaining fun, relaxing—yet still very competitive—poker games (while keeping all their wizardry below the surface/behind camouflage as much as possible), they are being played slowly, quietly, intensely, and with just about zero coyness/discretion…

The fewer and fewer public big games that do run regularly these days are mostly played as a sport. As I will likely belabor in this book (sorry, got to), poker does not survive as a sport- too much variance/not enough edge available (once everyone learns the basics and more importantly really starts trying their hardest because they realize they are being hunted)/too few hands dealt per hour.

Sure, our nerd side gets an erection/wet when we first start thinking about “ranges”, “balance”, “GTO strategy” and what not, and it can also be pretty mentally stimulating to compete against other “thinking players”…

Take away all the glory from poker though—once people realize so much of the “skill” in it is actually masked run good/there are no longer really any “winning players” (no one even makes it 3 years in the big games any more)/variance is God (in games big enough where rake isn’t God)/winning a bracelet merely means you won a raffle/etc—and the game quickly starts heading back to the dark ages (pre-NL Boom poker was dark as hell, I was there to witness it first hand- I will try to paint a picture of it for you in chapter 1) in my opinion/estimation…

After a while, who is going to want to keep risking real money at poker tables- once they realize the edge available is miniscule and the variance is massive? There just aren’t that many true gamblers out there, and those that do have both the means and the jones to really “fire”, they have much more enjoyable options than sitting down with a bunch of dudes on heaters/in gym clothes at quiet, slow, intensely cerebral poker tables…

First, the big games dry up completely (high stakes is close to completely dry already, mid-stakes is heading in that direction quickly as well) and those players either leave poker altogether or they go to the “small games” (the ones no one can beat because rake is insurmountable). Then, with nothing to look forward to with regards to moving up in stakes or ever beating poker (because rake is such a beast in all the games available), the small games dry up (almost) completely shortly thereafter.

Important note: The conscious realization (it’s already in the subconscious, that’s why big games are so scarce/everyone hits and runs theses days) that poker has become all but a crapshoot (due to rake in the small games and hardly any edge available in the big games) is the natural, inevitable next step in mainstream poker’s evolution in my opinion. It’s coming soon- with or without this book. I’m just trying to get out in front of it and offer some ways to prevent it from actually happening.

I hope to spark a movement that makes poker more of “a skill game” again- just before it clicks in mainstream poker’s head that it has become all but a crapshoot. I honestly believe this can happen via some very simple—yet also pretty drastic—behavioral changes being made throughout the poker community, starting with the people who care enough about the game to read a book like this one…

Once it becomes common knowledge (not from this book, but from mainstream poker’s natural evolution/the game’s continued slide towards Variance Ville) that poker is more mental masturbation/straight up gambling (in a bad atmosphere) than “a skill game”/that it basically just cannot be beat anymore without running like the sun, etc, there are going to be A LOT less people coming out to Vegas every summer, A LOT less people showing up at all the card rooms across the globe, A LOT less people paying to watch Doug Polk or whoever play/teach poker, etc.

 

When poker is played as sport (quietly, intensely, etc) it is much less “a skill game”/much more “a gambling game” than when it is played as a social game (chatter, fast paced, drinks maybe, etc) –> there is way more variance/way less edge available when there is no social element relaxing players and overriding their desire to play their absolute best/not make mistakes…

(please read ^^^ a couple more times and let it sink in, because it’s a very difficult/ironic concept to fully understand and appreciate- it took me years to know “a quiet game is a bad game”, and that sacrificing a few notches of your own play in order to convert your table into a “social game” is easily and always the most +EV play- in both the short-term and the long-term)

(and no, I don’t think creating a fun atmosphere where brains aren’t exploding is dirty, it’s a soft hustle at most- one that is good for everyone. And poker, like it or not, always has been and always will be at least somewhat of a hustle)

“Man, this is a crazy long intro, and you are kind of all over the place to be honest. The whole book gonna be like this?”

My bad. I’m a spewy poker player and a spewy writer. And full disclosure: I’ve been writing this intro fresh off a brutal session of running like garbage AGAIN and being the only “fun” pro at the table AGAIN… I promise though that after this intro, I’ll write the rest of the book in a much calmer state, with fewer tangents per sentence (hopefully). Just bear with me for a few more paragraphs…

The intro of a book (I’m learning) is the hardest part to write- it’s the part where you have to scream with written words (no easy task) in order to really grab people’s attention. It’s the part where (in my case) you have to hammer home foreign and/or unpopular concepts- concepts that you very firmly believe are real/accurate/extremely important… It’s the part where you attempt to convince poker players that poker- the game they love (and maybe depend on), is about to fall to the floor and die, despite it probably looking a lot like LeBron James or Lindsey Vonn to them on the surface…

Very important note: LeBron James is the GOAT. In this book you will learn to think more objectively and logically- and then you will see that!

(sorry, had to…)

Once I’m done pleading my case (we’re almost there- promise) that poker/the state of poker (like so many other things in life) is actually “not what it seems”, I’ll write a lot more “solid” the rest of the way. I’ll be much more focused and tranquil as I lay out the actual steps that I believe all poker players can/should take (with minimal effort) to collectively swoop in–like a surgeon woken up in the middle of the night and called in to the OR–and remove the ever growing tumor that is lack of edge available…

(I’m really feeling this documentarian passion… OK just a few more insights/obvious scare tactics and the longest introduction to a book ever will be complete- stay with me, it will be worth it to you in the end I think)

 

It used to be—during the NL boom and for a little while after—that 7 recreational players would be at a table playing a social game, and 2 pros would be playing a sport (full disclosure: I didn’t see the light right away/I played poker as a sport for my first couple years on the job). That use to be OK- kinda. That dynamic/possibility completely went out the window though with the economic collapse of 2007/2008, when that 7:2 ratio quickly flipped to 2:7…

Contributing greatly to the suddenly inverted ratio of recs to pros at your average poker table (not all rich guys got punished by the economic collapse) was the genius move of poker pros/enthusiasts/capitalists spewing new poker strategy everwhere- to everyone. The lol live pros (we were really bad) got much better (and there became way more of us as a result of the influx of information) and the recreational players (the ones that didn’t turn pro themselves) soon realized their favorite game had become a sport...

And then of course there was all the horrible, horrible, horrible (did I mention, horrible?!) outing/shaming of “fish”, “whales”, “donkeys”, “spots”, etc in card rooms everywhere and in poker mass media.

(that dude who owns all those circus shows in Vegas- that super chill dude who is a self-made badass mofo and does a ton for charity- his name and poker results should have never even been uttered amongst poker players, much less put in print- LDO WTF!)

No one wants to be “the sucker” in anything- that’s basic. So once it was made clear that poker pros/grinders/fish on heaters were all getting rich off certain “suckers”- they not only outed them for no good reason but also patronized them greatly with horribly transparent fake kindness (all the while seat hopping them and calling string raises- whenever it benefitted them too, and doing a whole host of other short sighted things that pissed them off- real smart, guys), all the “suckers” either quit playing poker or… get ready for it… STARTED TRYING A LOT HARDER. They started reading books, joining training sites, hiring coaches, PLAYING FOCUSED AND DISCIPLINED WHENEVER THEY SAT, etc.

Newsflash- people that have a lot of money are generally smart and competitive as hell. When they decide they want to be good at poker (because it’s a “sport” now/no longer a place to unwind after a hard day’s work and have some drinks and gamble over some good old fashioned R-rated conversation)- they become good at poker.

 

And so it is now that the EV gap between pros and recreational players (in general- there are exceptions obviously) has shrunk from the Grand Canyon (during the NL Boom) to just a slight crack in the earth after a big earthquake (those cracks exist in the movies- so I know they are real!)…

And for the most part, all the biggest winners (aka “hotshots”) currently sitting in all the big public games across the globe—you know, stacks on stacks on stacks in front of them, turning over the nuts vs the 2nd nuts in huge pots and saying, “Shyeahh” all the time, pulling organic-granola-kale-non-gmo salads or whatever out of their backpacks in between hands (props to them for eating healthy actually)—are basically just massive luck boxes. Despite their “poker wizard” appearance/demeanor/results- they are quite simply just the latest/most current variance outliers in poker- “fish good players on heaters”. They weren’t sitting there 3 years ago (unless their run of cards has truly been anomalous, which it is just going to be for some- in both directions), and they will not be sitting there 3 years from now.

(truth –> discouragement –> liberation)

No one who has been around to witness it can say that big games are anywhere near as healthy as they were even just a few years ago. They get progressively unhealthy each year. And no one that has been around can say that (with exceptions- I see you Brian Kim; you are a great player, but also a huge effing luck box) there isn’t absolutely a revolving door when it comes to hotshots in poker- a revolving door that is powered primarily by variance- variance that has grown immeasurably over the years, very much due to ignorant, arrogant, self-serving, greatly misguided behavior at the poker table and away from it –> poker players being so short-sighted (and selfish) that they never even once thought about the long run (except for the one that doesn’t actually exist, which they reference all the time obviously)…

(deep breath for the finale- of the intro!)

Poker needs someone grab it by the shoulders and shake it (don’t do this with babies btw- poker is old enough), to help spark its next boom (the one that prevents the collapse that is waiting right around the corner), to remove that deadly growing tumor that is ‘the ever decreasing edge available’, to block the coming realization that poker has become a crapshoot<– because that becomes untrue after a few simple—yet drastic—changes are implemented, to load up a syringe with as many cc’s of “come on guys, time to pull your heads out of your asses” as possible- then draw a small circle over the heart of the game with a red felt-tipped pen, and then just slam it in there as violently as possible while the annoying drug dealer and his crazy gf finally shut up for a second and pay attention…

(Don’t lie- that scene was cool as hell when you were a kid. Certainly cool enough to slightly misapply as an analogy in the intro of your first book…)

As far as I know, ESPN, Chris Moneymaker, Sammy Farha and Planet Poker (more on the role online poker played in the NL boom later) are all busy right now. So for this boom (the one that converts poker from a boring, cringe-y, way too focused variance fest of a sport where the best players exercise next to zero common sense/logic outside of their play, back into a social game, where there is plenty of edge available/money to be won for whoever wants it and who is willing to do their part/provide a good service– because wealthy recreational players suddenly want to play big and loose again, because poker is suddenly fun and relaxing again, and because their disadvantage at the table is no longer being constantly rubbed in their faces- or corrected for next to nothing away from the table, you got me, an anonymous (I cherish my anonymity- don’t hate me for that please) long time poker pro/hack of a writer (at least when I’m on tilt), pounding away on his laptop like a madman right now, direct from the Jacuzzi at Panorama Towers in Las Vegas, fresh off another joke of a session at the Bellagio. I got this…

“What if we don’t care about the long run of poker? What if we just want to ‘get ours’ and get out?”

Good question. I really try my hardest to not judge anyone- honestly. Having said that, I think everyone that loves and/or needs poker should inherently want to protect it and help it flourish (in a way that is sustainable)<– is basic, in my opinion. I also believe (as mentioned/somewhat belabored already) that very few in the poker world are currently doing their part. The overwhelming reason for that discrepancy in my opinion is simply that most have just never really taken a long—and clear—view of the game, and then considered how their actions and behavior affect it. I plan to provide that view/education for them in this book.

And to those who take the long—and clear—view of poker and think everything through and STILL want to be selfish and short-term only- in a game that depends on constant communal/short-term and long-term efforts (much more on those later), God bless you (if you believe in God) and good luck fading the soon to be enlightened masses- and your consciences, of course…

Sincerely, you are going to need Moneymaker luck x 10 to fade both ^^^ things. If the former doesn’t get you (poker players have long been considered pretty passive enablers of selfish, game-killing behavior, but I have faith their behavior will change once they are properly educated- similar to how everyone stopped incorrectly putting opponents on only one hand once Phil Galfond—for no good reason at all that I can think of—dropped the “range” bomb in a post on Two Plus Two or wherever), the latter almost certainly will (at some point)…

Note: the only people that can fade their consciences forever (because they are literally born without them) are sociopaths. And only 4% of all people are sociopaths (despite how loosely that label is thrown around). Congrats to you (I guess) if you hit that 1-outer all in on the flop when you were being formed inside your mother’s belly. You are still going to have to deal with the soon to be enlightened masses though…

 

“OK bro, I’ll read your book/documentary/whatever this is. I’m still a bit skeptical that poker really has cancer (gotta admit though, I have run pretty damn hot if I’m being honest, and big games do seem pretty dry these days)- but I like your fire, and all your crazy slash marks and random thoughts. Please just try not to be quite as spewy as you have been in this intro. I don’t know if I could take a whole book at this pace. And try to not belabor anything else as much as you have the ‘variance is almighty in poker’ thing already- pretty sure we all get that by now…”

Got it. Like I said, I will make a conscious effort to “play more solid” the rest of the way (no more writing on tilt after shitty sessions!). And I’ll try to lay off the “variance is almighty” thing as much as possible moving forward- though people really need to have a much better grasp of at least the magnitude (if not the specifics) of variance in poker than they currently do, if they are going to realize the importance of everything else I throw at them/ultimately take some action themselves to help rescue the game they love (and maybe depend on)…

Having said all that (I’ve said heaps already, I know- my bad), thank you very much for your time- and for your purchase. What follows is a little bit of research and a ton of common sense- coming from someone who has spent way too much time at the table thinking about the tangible long run of poker.

Note: this is very much a strategy book, just not how you think.


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

 

*Follow me on Twitter to receive updates on my books.

1 thought on “The Long Run… (Intro)

  1. “What if we don’t care about the long run of poker? What if we just want to ‘get ours’ and get out?”

    I think that’s a really short sighted view of anything in life. There’s a reason why people advise against burning bridges, because you never know what life can throw at you (variance again duh), and in the future you might find yourself in need of that one bridge you never thought you’d need to use again.

    Like

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