I don't know whether it is blogging, studying more, or just simply reaching another echelon, but even though I left even last night, I really feel like I am making steady and constant improvement as a player. I made some plays last night that I wouldn't even dream of making a year ago. I don't really want to get into the details about hands and what not, but it makes me think about some issues.
Technically a $200 buy-in for 1/2 is miles over what my poker bankroll buy in should be. Ideally you'd want to have around $4000 to play comfortably at that level. Well, I am not anywhere near there. As a result, I think I've played a lot with scared money. I think most of the result of my better play is shedding that sentiment, although I certainly question the benefit of that. When variance and bad play eventually rears its ugly head, I'm essentially screwed. Which led me down a path certainly worth an interesting debate. Keep in mind that I havent quite organized my thoughts on the subject.
Let's take Phil Ivey. Ok, he has money to burn, and is essentially a degenerate gambler that will lay money on practically anything he considers worthy. He is universally feared at the table. If Phil Ivey didn't care about WINNING, he'd call every bluff you make, see every board, but what separates him and other players is that he manipulates your aversion to LOSING. I say this not as an overall theorem - we identify fish at a table, and I assume we all know how to read hand ranges, calculate odds, and so on. What I'm getting at is this....does having ridiculous amounts of cash make you a better player? The short answer would be no...but let's put Phil Ivey in one corner, and a perfect clone of Ivey in another, with only $1000 dollars to his name. Now who is the better player? I'd lay my small bankroll on the former.
There is someone at my Thursday game that I surmise has quite a bit of money...I don't know this for sure, but considering he has no job to speak of and goes on golfing trips and goes to big buy-in tournaments, it's a safe bet. And don't get me wrong, he is mostly a TAG in cash, pounding his good hands when he has them, and throws out some crazy stuff when he feels he has an edge, mostly a decent player that I generally avoid. Likewise, there is another player who I think also has a lot of money, apparently owns his own business, and spews money almost every week. He's not as much a bad player as he is an overly aggressive one. He has no fear whatsoever about pushing it in behind. So, I do realize there are different types of wealthy players - I guess I am trying to figure out how it applies to me. Am I playing better because I don't care, or am I playing better because I DO care - very much - about becoming a better player. One could come to the conclusion that if you only play against people with fatter wallets than yourself, you're going to suffer more bad beats, more disappointment, and questioning your play more.
I'd LIKE to think that ideally, that players like the latter will be long-run losers with that kind of play, but what if they simply don't care about losing? It's an element of opponent-reading that is implied in many books and commentary, but never discussed. We see people in the WSOP laying down all kinds of hands antithetically -" I paid $10K to do this, I have to fold my KK!" And yes, people talk all the time about getting to know your opponent, and I suppose that knowing how willing he is to shove it all in with you is a good point to keep track of...but I think even more worthy is knowing WHY they are so willing. I made some plays last night that made me look like I have a lot of cash to burn, but I truly do not. And I think that's the hump, albeit a risky one. I think those plays were successful because I've started to identify who is not over that hump, and those who really simply do not care. And I think that's important - it must be because I've sat here typing this for a half hour!