Friday, July 07, 2006

Everyone has their limits

Prior to that nasty encounter with Iak, the only other poker blogger I’d met previously is one of the true titans of the poker blogging industry, the inestimable and irascible Matt Maroon of The Poker Chronicles.

Poker Chronicles was the first poker blog I'd ever stumbled across. Intrigued, I spent several hours poring over the entire archive, getting a fascinating glimpse into Matt's journey as a professional online player. I then spent time watching him run over people at the $10/20 limit tables on Party while putting many of his victims on serious tilt with his vicious barbs. Not my style, but it worked well for him.

Circumstances led to us having lunch. As outspoken and cruel as he could be online, he proved to be exceedingly polite and pleasant in person. His gracious link in the beginning days of this blog brought me much of my first traffic.

As foolhardy as this might be, however, especially given the poker pedigree Matt possesses and I do not, I'm going to recklessly climb out onto a thin (and what I hope to be non-didactic) limb and disagree with the subject of his last post.

Matt began by posing the question: “Which game is more complex, limit or no limit hold ‘em?” As expected, he voted for his bread-and-butter/Lexus/condominium game, limit, and used a clever analogy that compared 8-ball vs. straight pool. In 8-ball, he wrote, a player assigned to solids has seven balls to choose from (NL). Lots of (easy) choices. But in straight pool, he argued, you can only pocket one specific ball at a time, which brings more strategy into play (limit).

Again, clever. But I don’t think it quite works. In either pool game, you have options, concerns about position and consideration of future plays. I will grant you that straight pool (or 9-ball) is harder, but I will also argue that THOSE games provide a much better comparison to NL in the poker. No-limit is more complicated, IMHO.

The decision trees for NL vs. limit are similar. Both games value (and reward) aggressiveness. But my experience (40K hands of $1/2 6-max) at limit has shown me that NL demands far more creativity. Given the fixed bet/raise amounts in limit, there is much more to consider in determining optimum bet amounts in NL, whether its to protect a hand or to build a pot. Bluffing in NL is endemic. Few NL games that I’ve played, even at the $50, $100 or $200 levels where I roll, are push-monkey fests. And, unlike limit, a good, tricky NL player can pick up a ton of chips with no cards at all. To me, that demands abundant creativity.

Most importantly, but not quite on point, NL is considerably more fun to play. I don't earn my living at poker as Matt does. I get to pick up some pocket change and feed my insatiable Poker Jones. I'm sure the games are extremely interesting at the limits Matt plays at, but I can't ever see me going there.

Finally, Doyle Brunson calls no-limit hold 'em the “Cadillac of poker.” I'm too much of a mindless sychophant to disagree with the great Texas Dolly.

A couple of quick notes. I finished third in last night’s WWdN The Not despite holding a 22K to something like 8K and 7K lead at one point. The explanation for the collapse is simple. I was tired and made one very stupid play. Rested and alert, it would not have happened. Period.

Congratulations to Mookie for surviving two hellaciously bad beats from mowenumdown and taking down the tournament. And nice job, mow, who was my heads-up opponent the night before in the eponymous Mookie. (And in the department of weird coincidences, mow and I were seated at our first table in the Stars $3 rebuy tonight. I left after three rebuys, about 10 minutes before the break.)

Finally, fuck you bloggers living the high life in Vegas. I hope you puke your guts out. And I hope you have a fantastic freakin’ time doing it. Wish I were there projectile vomiting alongside you.


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