August 4, 2006

Lesson #2: A Healthy Disregard for Money

phil ivey said on the circuit yesterday that, "if you're not willing to take a thousand dollars out of your wallet right now and set it on fire, then you shouldn't even consider playing poker." while this is being said by a guy that plays $4000-$8000 every day, meaning that the exact sum is probably not applicable to players at lower limits, the point is valid: you need a disregard for the amount of money you're playing for to be successful.

it's actually rather ironic when you think about it: poker players spend all day pursuing large amounts of money, it would seem that the money is important to them. in fact, at the table, the opposite is true. to play effectively and play un-scared, a poker player needs to have a disregard for the amount of money he has on the table. it's meaningful only in terms of acquiring more chips. now this is something i read about in numerous books, but i didn't really understand it until last week.

i sat down at a $5-$10 NL cash game last tuesday at the wynn, and immediately the difference from 2-5 was evident. guys were sitting at the table with mounds of chips, and 3-inch thick wads of 100's behind them. i asked one player how much he had back there, and he absentmindedly replied, "about 25." that's not 25 hundred (incidentally, i realized quickly that my 'short-stack' thoughts on cash games is slightly incorrect. i'd write on this, but you'd be bored).

in the first hand i watched, i got some insight into what ivey meant. two players raised and re-raised each other before the flop and saw an AKQ flop. the first player, clearly a high-action asian guy of about 21, pushed in for about $900 into a $600 pot and the other player (an older tight guy) called instantly. i was positive that they would be flipping over set vs. set, or at the very least AK, which is in fact what the tight player showed. i jumped out of my chair when the asian guy flipped over 9T and rivered a J. he justified the play by saying,  "i thought he had jacks or tens," while he nonchalantly stacked about $2000 in chips.

now i'm not saying that 9T guy made a good play that will be profitable in the long run. he made a play at a pot with four outs. it was reckless and he got lucky. but he made a play at a pot without fear, based purely on a (very incorrect) read. is it a much more reasonable play with a flop like 673? probably. but his disregard for $1200 of his own money was telling.

after a few hours, i was finally comfortable at the stakes. but in retrospect, comfortable isn't the right word. it's just that i had "forgotten" the stakes that were in play. i know it sounds weird, but once you've been in the game for a few hours, you no longer worry about how much you bought in for. you just play poker. i'm not sure if that's the disregard for money that phil ivey was talking about, but i think it might be.

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At 8/04/2006 11:57:00 AM, Anonymous King said...

pass the suga


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