Saturday, October 21, 2006

The "professionalism" in the poker world: reflections with regard to a cash game

Before I go on towards discussing professionalism is in poker, I want to shed some light on what happened in our Sunday cash game after the Underground Battles.

This is the scenario that happened.

Character X moves in with K,7 and I call with 10's after much deliberation.

He gets up from his chair and drops the f bomb, because he knows he is "f***ed".

After the flop comes dry, the turn comes a king, which is Character X's money card. The river comes a blank, and I become severely crippled in the cash game. From there, he comes back to the table to rake in the chips, and has this look like he's a genius for sucking out on me. And the bad thing about it, it's not the only time he has had the look.

I got fed up with Character X's attitude so after the hand I said this, "I hate to call you out like this. But you need to stop acting like a little bitch."

The people in the cash game could not believe that I said such a comment. The only response Character X has is, "I act the way I want to act, Neal."

Well, another hand comes into play where he moves in with K,J and I call him A,K after much deliberation. He sucks out again hitting a jack on the turn and on the river. After the hand I say, "This is how you take a beat, you say, "Nice catch" ". I wasn't pissed off that I lost, I was pissed off on how Character X conducted himself at the table, because I had a big part to play in his tootlage of poker.

The reason why this article is called the "professionalism" of poker is because just like any situation, there are a proper set of rules and guidelines that one should act to conduct oneself appropriately. I believe that all these tournaments on T.V have pretty much glamoourized characters such as Mike "The Mouth" and Phil Hellmuth. I hate to break it to everyone, but it's not cool to act in that manner. Granted, they are very respected poker players, but there must be a certain level of conduct that should be strived for.

I would say, the first quality that is important in the poker room is humility. When you make a bad play such as Character X's K,7 suck out and you get lucky, show your opponent some grace and be like, "I got lucky, sorry." Don't have that look like, "Oh, I knew the card was coming." No, you didn't. You lucked out, you should have been gone period. You show your opponent some courtesy by saying, "Luck, sorry." because you acknowledge that you played the hand poorly, and you acknowledge the fact that your opponent should have won the hand. That creates for good business. You don't have the look like you are a f***'ing genius, you have the look of sincerity and humility. That's what a true professional is all about. Don't rub it in his/her fact that you made a bad play and you lucked out. If you want that person to play with you again, then that would NOT be the stepping stone I would take.

So, what's the proper conduct with regards to playing cards? Talk or no talk? Headphones or no headphones? Personally, do whatever you want keeping in mind that luck does have a factor in this game called poker. I wouldn't say my approach is unique, because Daniel Negreanu has had much success with the mentality that I share with him. But, people ENJOY playing with Daniel Negreanu. We all know that he is a world class player, and that he ears and wins like no ones business. He talks with people, he gains his informations, and he dominates. That's the same way I play. I always talk my butt off when I'm playing, and to the extent, I even root for someone's card to come off, simply because I made the right play and I can't do anything about it if that person sucks out on me. Or even if I'm behind, I don't mind losing. It's just a part of the game.

So the next time you decide to throw a tantrum, an attitude, or a fit, remember the reprecussions of that. You not only hurt yourself, because no one wants to play with you, but you hurt your earning power. Our goal in poker is to earn money when we play and get rewarded for our correct plays, considering making the least mistakes as possible.

I'll leave you all with a thought.

You could be a world class poker player, but no one wants to play with you, because your attitude sucks.

Where does that leave you? Think about it...