Lessons Learned

In the previous post I discussed two hands I got to play with Captain Tom and Mark Wilds. I was fortunate enough to eliminate them and also granted an opportunity to learn another poker lesson from them both.

This kind of ties into a pet peeve of mine. I hate it when players bitch about the stakes of the tournament they are in. You might hear, "I can't take it seriously this is only a $300 or $500 buy-in," and while I understand where they are coming from I think it's bad form and hurts their game. They are basically assuring themselves of pissing away $500.

The same is true in cash, I notice a lot of 2-5 players will sit down at a 1-2 table and play like the stakes are beneath them. They raise like mad, as though they can turn the table into a higher limit game. Same thing at a 2-5 table when players sit down waiting for a bigger game, or sit down pissed there isn't a bigger game.

I love it when they do. Essentially, their mindset starts them off on tilt. They don't respect the stakes or their opponents and try to push, push, push. Even though I know I could be playing for a stack I've grinded for a couple of hours to earn I'm looking to play against these guys and I will happily call them down light. Lots of money to be won in those situations.

The same is true in a tournament. I think any tournament you buy to whether it's $5 sit 'n go online or $100 tournament or a 10k tournament you satellite into you should try and play your best. You should try and adjust for your opponents and your stakes, but play it hard. I still play hard when I am playing family or friends for basically nothing with quickly escalating blinds knowing it's going to be a luck-fest, because I want to win.

For now, I'm a low stakes player, course there are micro stakes players but that doesn't mean they are any worse than me. Nor does it mean medium or high stakes players are any better. Nor should I enter a tournament that doesn't mean much to my bottom line and treat it as such. I bought in so I should play it as hard as I can.

What I learned from those hands with Captain Tom and Mark Wilds was two fold. One, despite a players accomplishments or resume or experience in live play they still exude information. You can still get a read on them. To solidify this even more watching the WSOP final table I felt like I had pretty good reads on a number of players. Which defies conventional wisdom which will beat into you, once you get to a certain level of play tells and reads go out the window a bit as those guys are so masterful.

And perhaps, more importantly the only reason I was able to get a read on those guys because even though the stakes might not have meant much to them, they were playing it as hard as any other tournament they bought into. They were invested in it from a competitive standpoint, they didn't want to get knocked-out, and while it wasn't the World Series or a WPT final table it was still a tournament.

Granted you could say Captain Tom and Mark probably looked uneasy because they knew I was going to call before I did--so they weren't really giving any thing away, but I still feel the fact they took it seriously only affirms my opinion. This is an important lesson, because hopefully next time when I'm distracted and I play poker online in a micro stakes tournament on bwin or somewhere I'll not take some hands off or allow myself to not my play my best.

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