Good morning readers. Wrote the following last night on my flight from FLL -> LAS for the DraftKings Baseball Championship (let me know if you’d like to see me blog about DFS in the future):
(Last night) I’m currently on a plane finally getting around to watching this TV poker event (I’ve only seen some of the footage of each shootout table, but want to write down my thoughts while they are fresh). Some random thoughts of mine:
- It’s interesting to see the table dynamics of both the celebrities and the pros. Both tables are comprised of very intelligent and successful human beings, but the table talk is entirely different. The pros tend to lean toward needling each other, matching wits over one another’s poker skill levels (i.e. Antonio to Phil: “Of course you would’ve paid that river off! You always pay me off!” Phil: “Yeah, but in a few minutes you’ll bet the river drawing dead and give me your chips!” This interaction can essentially be summarized as Antonio inferring that Phil calls too many rivers, and Phil rebutting that this is because Phil believes that Antonio bluffs too much.), and just general friendly-but-competitive banter. The celebs seem to be more results oriented and interested in discussing the results of individual hands at length, even if the strategy decisions weren’t all that interesting. Both groups generally make an effort to engage with one another and have fun at the table, which is something that I think many poker players can learn from.
- To the surprise of no one at all, the level of play amongst the pros as a whole is far higher than the level of play of the celebs. What did catch my eye, though, was the play of Kevin Pollak. I thought both his A5dd hand vs Cheadle (beat AQ on Axx 2 diamonds flop, diamond turn, 5 river) and his JJ hand vs Azaria were quite sharp and stronger lines than I would’ve expected by anyone at the table (I haven’t met or played with any of the celebs).
- Vanessa’s QJ hand vs Doyle’s A8cc was interesting. I think her flop line is somewhat ambitious and certainly non-standard, but it also has some merit. Doyle’s flop range is likely to contain lots of draws, most of which QJ is doing just fine against. And even when she’s in bad shape, she’s certainly not drawing dead (as the hand evidenced).
- The rest of the hands I saw weren’t especially interesting from a theory perspective, but I love watching the leveling game. For further reading on the theory of that, I suggest Googling the “level-k model”. I took a game theory class in college and enjoying the discussion on it very much.
- Gotta love Daniel coming on the show and actually being quieter than normal because he’s afraid of giving any info away to his tablemates. It’s also nice to be in the position of not having to worry about being invited back, but even still it’s very rare to see someone make an active effort to speak less in front of the cameras. Even cooler since Daniel doesn’t need the money and is just doing it in the name of hyper-competitiveness.
- This is more of a general comment about the game of poker, but ego plays a big role in the dynamics. I do think these “star” players do a much better job than the average poker player of using the role of ego in a positive way. Rather than berating amateurs, as some egomaniacal/insecure/selfish/naive/inexperienced (usually at least 2 of those 5) pros do, the stars embrace their own identities and use ego as the subject of friendly banter and sometimes even friendly wagering on the side. I think many pros can learn from these people on healthier, more productive, and more profitable way to behave at the poker table and even away from it.