Sunday, April 29, 2007

The art of looking bad....?

As I grow as an individual, my poker playing has grown as well. I went from what some called me as a super tight player to having an image if I'm bluffing or not. To me, that's one of the best images to have.

A couple of my poker buddies and I were having a discussion on our own unique playing styles, and they all came up with the conclusion that, "Man, I make some of the dumbest and gutsy plays in our crew." My discussions with other poker buddies I play with on-line that are what I call my apprentices, and they always ask me, "What does it take to become a great poker player?"

Now, I know we are all familiar with the wall. If not, let me describe it to you. It's that point in your life / career where you feel you hit the threshold, and you CAN'T go any further. Well, in certain conditions, that might not be a bad alternative. But in poker, if you think you hit the wall, you better think again.

I've told this many times to my girlfriend, "The reason why I'm so critical of my play and the reason why I say that I'm not good at poker is because once I think I'm good, I'll start slacking off. I won't work as hard, and I guarantee you that some young kid out there will find the same enthusiasm I have in poker, and will beat me. I don't want that to happen."

So, what's my solution to hitting that wall?

This is where the art of looking bad comes into play.

I call this an art, because it takes real skill to try new things out, add them to your bag of tricks, and find more tricks to add to your bag.

The reason why I call it the art of looking bad is because for starters you, as a poker player, are going to try things that are out of your comfort zone. Whatever you are accustomed to, it's time to push through it. Let's say if you are a super tight player like I was, it's time to experiment on the other side of the coin, which is super aggression. Likewise, if you are a super aggressive poker player, try to play tight to see what's it like.

There are two poker players that come to mind when I talk about this as an art form and that's Daniel Negreanu and Gus Hansen.

Gus Hansen is probably my favorite in terms of this, because he's not afraid to go with his gut and make a call. Also, he's not afraid of looking bad at the sake of winning a championship. His prime example is the Poker Superstars III. In one match, he moved in every single time or pretty much raised everyone all-in. All those all-ins completely nullify any form of post-flop play, and shows that he's not afraid to lose. He's willing to put it all on the line whether that makes him look bad or not.

Daniel Negreanu is a person that I consider to be one of my favorite poker players, and in some sense, is part of the art of looking bad. From what I've read from his blogs and watching his critical hands in poker tournaments, he makes pretty gutsy calls to get information or to go with his read. And I believe in the poker world, Negreanu is one of the best "readers", which makes him super dangerous. The one instance I remember is when he was playing David Williams heads up and he called him with Ace high to see what he had. He did that just so he could gain more information.

So, if you feel like you hit a threshold or the wall, try to add more tricks to your arsenal. Go a different style to see what it's like. Look at what some of the top pros do and add what you think are their best qualities, and add it to your bag. With that way of looking at your poker development, I don't see why you should even hit the wall.

Remember, looking bad for the sake of learning more in poker might not be such a bad idea. I'll leave you with that thought.

Peace out, and Good luck to all you card playing party people,

-The DarkDragon