I’ve never sat around the house doing nothing constructive. Since the 1st of the year, I sit at my desk all day with no plans for travel or even looking for cash games. I work on projects that I’ve been postponing for years, play online at DoylesRoom.com, read, watch TV and DVD’s. I read blogs, go to twitter several times a day, and spend a lot of time reflecting on past and future events. It is a pretty boring life but you do pick up new insights about lots of things.
For example, I guess I never really understood that people regard me as one of the ancient and old-time players. Really! I don’t do a lot of time studying spreadsheets and trying to figure out my opponents patterns, etc. That stuff may work online against players you are unfamiliar with but I still believe poker is a “people game”. If you can look a player in the eye, you can learn more in a fraction of a second than a month’s worth of analyzing his play on paper. I’m not saying the paperwork has no value, but for Pete’s sake, don’t these genius youngsters understand the changing gears concept of poker? I may have certain trends in my play that can be monitored but I challenge anyone to figure out what I’m going to do in a poker game. How can they when I don’t know myself what I’m going to do until I do it? I’m always aware of certain things I do while playing a pot and I try to vary different things. That is an “old fashioned” thing called tells.
Speaking of tells, all the top poker players develop what we call mini-tells on every player we play with. How? By the way a newcomer handles his chips, his table talk, plus physical tells that almost everyone has. The older pros are aware of this and try to change several times in each session how they bet, etc. Even the great players sometimes are unaware of some things. For example, Stu Ungar did something that was 100% accurate. When we were playing lowball draw, it is common to pretend to look and then bet out. Stu would sometimes look at his card and bluff knowing for sure what he had. He would always make a point of being sure I saw him looking back so it would eliminate my thinking it was a “dark semi bluff”. That was golden and over the years I’ve picked up things like that on almost all the players I’ve played with. The tells have to be in the right situation always, but my point is, how do you learn things like that online?
I feel I’m rambling quite a bit now but when you are doing nothing day after day, your mind gets active. Anyway, I’ve never pretended to be a bonafide online poker player so I might not know or understand some of the more complex problems. When I hear people talking about tracking devices, statkeeping software, etc. I just think WTF. So maybe it is a different world when you play online and perhaps I’m a dinosaur and don’t understand the ins and outs. But poker to me is a group of players sitting down and trying to figure out how to get the opponent’s chips.
I might as well keep rambling while I’m at it. After I read blogs, forums and different poker discussions, I see where I’m perceived to be a “nit” at the poker table now. Old style, new style, doesn’t make any difference. The object of the game is to win your opponent’s chips. It’s not to make “star” plays and try to entertain an audience. I thought I was doing ok when I won 15 straight times in the TV cash games. But that doesn’t please the poker critics who want to watch spectacular plays, big pots, etc. If you want to watch poker on TV objectively, you have to realize that the way the other players play dictate the way you should play. So yes, I sit back and wait for the young guys to make mistakes. And they always do. Call me crazy, but I only see 5 or 6 players that I can think are fundamentally sound. You can get away with it sometimes but if you don’t observe some simple fundamentals, they are going to bite you in the ass. There must really be a big difference in the online play because most of the youngsters from the internet don’t have a clue. One of these days I might just twist off and show these kids how Doyle Brunson used to play. Actually, that would be stupid because right now, it’s hard to lose when these young guys are trying to make their star plays.
Being an ex-basketball player, I think a good analogy is basketball at every level. Today against yesterday. The players are certainly different, but in a physical sense. Today’s players are bigger, stronger and can do things no player in my era could do. But the object of the game is the same. You try to score and keep the other team from scoring. Bottom line, you try to win. Poker isn’t a physical thing and the main thing is to win more chips than you lose. So it’s pretty difficult for me to say today’s players are better than the old-time players. You can only judge the quality by who wins and who has the staying power. Lots of room for debate here.