Friday, January 25, 2008

On Poker Blogging

Another day, another blogger tournament win by Surflexus, who took down Riverchasers Razz last night. Everyone knows you have to be kind of a card rack to win at razz, and I would say it is easily the most luck-based of all the major poker variants, but what can you say when Surf, a blonkament dominator extraordinaire who has won 85,000 Mookies, 14,000 MATHs and I'm sure a bunch of Riverchasers to go along with them, makes another win other than that the man really knows how to play the game. Almost as interesting is that Gary Cox came in 2nd place in razz on Thursday night, just a week or so after taking down the Skill Series razz game. In typical Gary fashion he will also probably attribute his second nice razz performance in a week just to luck, but obviously both of these guys know their poker well and have figured out the formula to succeeding in razz with donkey shithead motherfuckers bloggers. As has often been the case recently, I was clueless as to this formula, donking out early as I played some truly horrific poker in both razz and an FTOPS O8 sat along with KOD and CK. I could not catch a single break in razz until one hand when I was already allin, and I had people catch perfect on me several times in questionable situations to leave me with no chance early on.

But I played like shit last night. I just wasn't in the mood to play, as I have not really been for most of this week. I know just what it is that's bothering me lately and I feel quite constricted in writing about it as I'm sure it will just perpetuate the problem and that's not good for anyone. I do remember when it really used to get to me when someone would say in their blog or in a blog comment somewhere that I made a bad play or was a bad player in general. That kinda stuff usually rolls right off me nowadays. But I understand very well that feeling when someone reads something in my blog that doesn't describe a play they made in exactly the way they want to. But you know what? I can say with factual certainty that some people I like and respect have overreacted to things in my blog of late, several times over the past few months in fact. I guess I'm just stuck with an image now, one of a guy who recklessly insults people here and tries to make people look or feel bad about their play. I certainly don't think that is even a remotely accurate portrayal of anything that happens here at my blog, but if that's what people think, then that's what people think and there's no use to me just sitting here and denying that that is my intention. My main goal here on the blog is and always has been to provide genuine analysis of poker and of the hands I see on a regular basis during my nightly poker activities, and to help in what little way that I can to educate myself and whoever else might actually be able to learn something once in a while from reading here.

For example, when I say someone got lucky or even that someone is a lucky player in general, I am not insulting them, and that's a fact. We got into this a little bit on buddydank radio the other night, but let me just say for the record that there is no way calling someone "lucky" is an insult. No way. People read that here and they get all up in arms about it, and the next thing I know I'm just reading my normal list of blogs and blog comments, and poof! there is someone ripping me a new anus for daring to call them lucky on my blog. Why is that? Why would that possibly bother you so much? I contend it is because there is a preconceived notion that I am some kind of asshole blogger and I'm trying to embarrass you, which of course could not be further from the truth (either part of that statement). Again I know we discussed this briefly on air during the Mookie this week, but to be clear, I would like to be called a luckbox by people. In fact I would love it. I only wish that I had the runs of cards that would support such a claim and that it was roundly thought that I was a lucky mofo. Where in the shit is the insult buried in that? Everyone gets a little lucky to do well in poker tournaments, and why on earth would it bother me if people thought I was lucky? I just don't understand it. But lord knows, when I ever dare say that someone else got lucky one time, most of the time they get fucking furious and let their frustration out on their own blogs or somewhere else. You would think I said that they suck at poker or something, which if you scan my archives I don't think you'll find me saying about any of you. Ever.

Same thing really with me stating that someone else is "loose" or "aggro" or whatever descriptive adjective I would use to describe their poker play. I have news for you guys -- "loose" is not an insult. The word does not judge in any way at all. It is simply a description, a description that fits a good number of poker players out there. That's why there are LAGs and there are TAGs in the world. Some people are loose. Some people win money playing loosely, especially early in hands. Look at Negreanu. Look at Gus Hansen. These guys will see a ton of flops with in many cases shitcocklian cards, and they play well enough after the flop to be profitable playing this style. "Loose" is not an insult, unless the reader wants to make it into one. "Aggro" should not be insulting to any of you, unless you are already insecure yourself about your level of aggro or something and come into this with preconceived notions of how you wish you were perceived by others at the tables. Shit, I play aggro. Not only am I not insulted when other people say that about me (which happens all the time btw), but I publicly proclaim it here. Am I crazy to say this in a public form, to admit that I play aggressive poker? Am I just being self-effacing? No, of course not. It's a descriptor of my playing style, and it is what it is. Someone thinks I play loose early in tournaments? OK, so be it. I am really struggling to understand why some people would be so defensive about this kind of thing, and yet every time I use a word like that about someone, I read about it, be it in blog posts, blog comments or emails, again and again and again. I keep coming back to it being related to an image that I have, one that I know is perpetuated by a lot of the bloggers out there about me, of being some kind of an insulting, pompous jerk. Pompous? Yes. Without a doubt. That is a badge I wear brazenly. Insulting? Ima go with No on that one. You can have your own thoughts.

Twice already just in this short year on the blog I have been accused of getting a hand history wrong that I in fact got completely right (actually one time I had the player involved wrong but the action on the hand absolutely correct). Both times the accusations came from people who in reality I guess just did not agree with my analysis of the hand in question, and/or who felt genuinely insulted by what I had to say about them. Yet in both cases, there were no insults involved. One time I referred to a player who had made a number of loose calls as having made some loose calls. That was and is a fact, a fact which the player in question to this day has tried to use fuzzy math, generalized insults and any other means available to him to refuse to open his mind about. That's fine, play the game how you want and analyze (or refuse to analyze) your play however makes you happy. And I mean that. But you can't make me have insulted you just by saying and acting like I did. When you call allins with Ace-rag and with tiny pocket pairs on four occasions during the last 90 minutes of a tournament, you just decided for yourself that you are making loose calls. Instead of spending days after the fact trying to insult me, my blog, my blog style, and my entire profession all to argue that you were not making the loose calls that you were in fact making, why not instead explain why you did in fact make those calls. Or -- imagine this -- open your mind to possibly changing that approach in the future. At least consider that someone else realized how loose those calls were, and think honestly and introspectively about why you made the calls that you made. If you go through that exercise and decide that you are happy with your decisionmaking, then so be it, that in my view is a great outcome. I don't even necessarily disagree with you -- maybe the situations in question called for some loose calling from you. But you still made some loose calls, and I'm just the messenger writing about it in a non-insulting way. I'm not putting you down when I say you made some loose calls, any more than I put myself down when I say like I have ten times in the past couple of weeks that I bet and called with and then hit a million draws in the Riverchasers O8 event earlier this month. It is an unbiased, objective non-judgmental observation about what happened in a poker tournament. There is no insult there.

On the other occasion, I described literally exactly how a particular hand finished out, and one of the players involved was disappointed with me for not portraying their play better in the way I described the hand. Christ guys. My blog isn't here to make anyone look good. My blog is here for me to write about how I perceived certain plays that have been made, and I am extremely proud to say that I've never used this blog, or anyone else's blog comments, on even one measly occasion, to present an inaccurate view of any poker play for any purpose other than the analysis of the poker itself. Just because I don't agree with the way you saw your play in a hand, that doesn't mean I am lying or trying to insult you, that I do not have respect for you, or any other negative thing. It actually most likely means that we actually have two genuinely different views about the same poker play. And since that happens...oh....about 25,000 times a day in the world of poker, that shouldn't be surprising to anyone, and no one should feel insulted if, say, they think calling with that draw on the flop was a smart play and I think it was overly loose. If the "right" play was always obvious and clear, then this game wouldn't be even a fraction as fun as it is, and there wouldn't be nearly so much variation in the kinds of plays nor in the quality of players we all run into on a regular basis at the tables, live or online.

I guess all this is a long way of saying that I am disappointed in a lot of what I see out there lately as far as people's reactions to statements in my blog. Obviously a lot of you are disappointed with me as well, and that is something I will have to accept and deal with, and figure out the appropriate reaction to. In fact, in that regard, I am here to say today that I am really going to go out of my way to present things in as fair and unbiased of a fashion as I can here on the blog from here on. Frankly this is what I always have done here, but I am going to try to go out of my way to choose my words and structure my sentences in ways that are not designed to leave people feeling insulted about my thoughts on some poker they may have been involved in. Hopefully some of you will pick up on this and notice the differences to some small degree. But I have no doubt that I will fail in this attempt, I'm sure again and again and again, because many of you are no different from me in that it can be really annoying reading about yourself in anyone's else blog in anything other than a supremely positive and awesome light.

And that's exactly the thing: this is only going to be a small difference from the way I already approach writing in my blog. I'm not proud of everything I've ever said here on the blog, but I have only told the truth about all of my poker thoughts and I've even tried to do so in a way that goes out of my way not to call anyone out or make anyone look or feel bad about reading what I write. But I am not going to keep my opinions to myself. That's not what this blog was, is or ever will be. I don't want it to be. If someone makes a call at mathematically poor pot odds and wins a big pot, I might use that hand as a example here to show my thoughts on the odds involved in making that call. That's what I've always done here and I will continue to do it, and I know I am better off from thinking through and analyzing hands like that here, and it is my hope that some of you might be better off for that discussion as well. What I will do is try my hardest to go out of my way not to make the person who made the call feel negative about reading that particular post, which is something that I've made a focus for a good year or two here but which I am obviously still not as successful at as I would like to be.

But this effort from me is going to require some hard work from my readers as well. I challenge you all to question some of the things you have read, heard and maybe even said about me, and might at this point just assume are true about me and my blog. The idea for example that I only talk about the poker books I've read so that I can sound authoritative, as opposed to the real reason I write about that (I know this is just about the dumbest idea I can imagine, but I actually have heard that said about me). The idea for example that I do not have respect for my opponents, something which I think could not be further from the truth and which I don't think even remotely follows from the fact that I enjoy and feel that my game improves from questioning and debating plays I see at the poker tables. The idea that I somehow can dish it out but can't take it in, which again is just about as inaccurate about me as it could be about anyone, given the recockulous amount of negativism and haterism that follows me wherever I go, along with the fact that I let all of your filthy insulting negatory comments sit on my blog for the whole lot of you to read.

I guess what I'm saying is, I am really going to go out of my way even more than I already do to challenge my own approach to analyzing poker plays and poker hands made by other people who might read here in the blonkaments and otherwise. But along with that effort, I challenge all who read here to try to keep a more open mind about what I am saying and how I am saying it here in 2008. I challenge you to challenge your own assumptions about me, about my intent with this blog, and about the kind of person you think I am. I ask that you consider whether maybe you are guilty of certain preconceived notions about me based on ideas formulated either a long time ago and/or based on faulty assumptions. My blog has changed a lot over the past three years of writing every day -- an awful lot -- and I like to think that most of us have open-enough minds to allow for people to change their approach over the three years and 600+ posts that have been here. Believe me, when I go back and read some of my earlier posts, I don't even recognize that guy. Go check my early archives out sometimes. It's funny, really. But I am constantly evolving as a person, as a poker player, and as a "writer". I would like you all to join me in challenging the way things have been thought of and done here in the past, and try to read what I say here at face value, leaving our preconceived notions, our own personal biases and especially our egos at the door and simply enjoying what I write for what it is. I'm going to make a real effort on this point, and all I ask is some of the same from you all, which I believe we are all entitled to.

My effort on this point starts tonight, in my rant-free zone that is known as the donkament at 9pm ET on full tilt (password is "donkarama"). As usual I do not know if I can be there tonight, but in the past I have usually found a way to sneak in, even if it's a few minutes late. So come and slug it out in the $1 rebuy tonight if you are around, still the best poker therapy I know of in the online poker world. And next week, I promise some actual poker strategy and analysis posts like I've always loved to write. Deal?

Labels: ,


Blogger VinNay said...


I don't want to exasperate the situation any more than it already has been. In fact, the exact opposite of my original intent of my post has been the outcome.

I was truly not trying to be insulting to you, and I really believe that you are not trying to be insulting to me or others.

Like you said - pompous, at times you can be. But that is really neither here nor there as far as hand analysis goes. But I never thought you were trying to insult or be jerk.

I don't know why you think I deny that I was being loose. I admitted to the looseness numerous times, and I actually blogged about a huge mistake I made in that tourney calling an all in with A7. I did this in my first post about the tourney even before you posted about it. And I have admitted looseness several times since then. I will chalk this up to a mis-communication.

Mis-communication, in writing and in reading is a serious problem, and at the heart of this issue. It's hard to tell the tone, and is easily misinterpreted.

If you feel that I was intending to insult you, or your profession, I apologize for that, it was not my intent. I was trying to constructively analyze analysis, and saw some correlations that may generally apply to a field of people, on a topic that has been discussed before. They may or may not be true, but no one was outraged at the positive generalizations you made about lawyers and poker, and my intent was not malicious in nature.

I have certainly come to understand your frustrations at peoples reactions to your posts now that the same has sort of happened to me.

My plan in the future is to assume non-malicious intent when reading blogs and I hope others can do this as well. Especially you Hoy, because I really do respect your game and your views, and hope you can read my posts without thinking I am trying to insult anyone or be disingenuous. If I didn't respect your game and opinions, I wouldn't have gotten into this mess to begin with.

Hopefully people can try to read posts without preconceived notions about the poster or tone of messages. If so, the the past 24 hours worth of exchanges will accomplish something after all.

BTW - Just to clear this up as well - I don't think you you talk about the poker books your read just to sound authoritative. I know my wording in my response was awkward (I even pointed that out) and if you interpreted it that way, it is a mistake. I do think you mention it frequently enough to add to the "pompous" factor, but I understand that is not your intent.

Can we be BFFs now?

To be clear - the above line about BFFs was not a sarcastic statement.

12:19 AM  
Blogger Julius_Goat said...

You totally screwed up the hand history in your post today.

12:35 AM  
Blogger BamBam said...

I personally think you're a LuckSack Hoy!
(at least when it comes to Carson!)

Great thoughts sir. An enjoyable read.

12:50 AM  
Blogger ScurvyDog said...


I'm not even sure why I'm responding, as I'm basically a non-blogger these days, but I do still read lots of ye olde poker blogs, and I do think you're asking for some open and honest feedback here.

I really enjoy reading your blog. And I respect the fact that you've not only stuck with it, but that you devote as many words and as much thought as you do to the game. I absolutely 100% believe that you put more effort into poker and blogging than any other poker blogger out there. As a reader and quasi-poker player, I really appreciate that and enjoy.

With all that good stuff out of the way, I also have to say that the lawyer gene runs deep within your soul. It's as if you're genetically incapable from assembling facts and constructing them in such a way that what you're saying (or how you play at the tables) is correct. Which means, by definition (stated explicitly or implied) that the other players in the hand are donkeys.

I think much of the dilemma you mention in regards to feeling constrained about what you can blog about or say, and the repercussions of that, points back directly to the lawyer gene.

This post is actually a great example. You mention the two times already in this short year that you've been called out for getting a hand history wrong when in fact you had it right, yet you completely ignore all the other times that you completely screwed up hand histories in the past.

You recapped your 2007 poker year with generally positive comments, yet skated delicately around the fact that you were pretty deeply in the hole as far as your MTT ROI, per

Year 2007 Prizes Profit ROI ABI AFS R/A ITM ITM

$43,401 <$0 -12% $48 297 10% 168/1021 16%

Your recap wasn't blatantly false, as you never claimed big profits from MTTs. That also doesn't count cash game winnings, so you very well could have been 100% accurate as far as it generally being a successful year, that your bankroll is healthy and you withdrew some cash, etc. It's just not quite the whole picture.

Lest you think I'm beating up on you, I honestly don't mean to be. Like I said, I very much enjoy reading your blog, and I wouldn't want you to undergo gene therapy to take care of the lawyer gene thing.

All I'm trying to do is point out why your blog gets the reaction it does, as that behavior drives some people absolutely bonkers, frothing at the mouth, wanting to reach through the screen and jerk you around until you stop carefully crafting and spinning nearly every situation into one that is +Hoy.

So, in closing, just be yourself and don't worry about what you should say or not say. 90% of the negative reactions aren't due to anything you're saying or not saying, but in the way that you carefully craft arguments. There's not much you can do about that (or much you should do), so screw it.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

This whole thing is so fucking ghey I can't even believe I wrote this post. I don't actually take myself so seriously btw, I just didn't feel like writing anything substantive about poker today.

I am ghey.

2:01 AM  
Blogger BigPirate said...

Thanks for stopping by and the comment. I appreciate it.

2:02 AM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

OMFG I may have to add a synopsis of Hoy comments section.

WTF is with the verbosity today

2:11 AM  
Blogger Fuel55 said...

I concur that you are ghey.

2:45 AM  
Blogger Astin said...

Hmm... I hope I didn't give the impression I might be insulted by being called lucky. I can only hope that image continues into perpetuity.

And yah Bayne, I was going to comment on the lengthy comments today too. Here's another one.

Anyway Hoy, I think you have to realize that many poker players in general have a hard time with criticism, even of the constructive variety. While I'd welcome a debate on the merit of some of my plays, others are convinced that their rationale is air-tight. I like these people because it makes them easy to beat.

I am concerned about the absolute gheyness of your post though. Did you just spend that much virtual ink on kissing everyone's ass and quasi-apologizing while at the same time not apologizing? How lawerly of you. Plus, it was repetitive. I seriously though I was rereading a paragraph at one point.

Be yourself, and stop trying to please anybody but you. As you've stated time and again, this is your blog and you can put whatever you damned well please in it. Continue to do so.

4:14 AM  
Blogger GaryC said...

We might as well all post in your comments section today, huh?

First off, thanks for the kind words. Yes, I did get lucky in a few key spots last night, but I also felt like I played some good, solid poker, if that's even possible in a blogger Razz event!!!???

Secondly, I don't think there are as many people as you think that feel like you are calling them out during a hand analysis. There have been times, the day after a tournament, that I knew exactly who you were talking about even though you didn't link or use names, but that is part of it and I agree with Scurvy that deciphering the implied meanings of some of your posts can go the wrong way.

I, for one, don't take offense to critical thinking regarding my play most of the time. There have been times where I've been a little touchy and that all goes back to the pompous nature of us. (Us being poker players and bloggers) I'll also be the first to admit when I feel like I've played a hand poorly and there have been plenty of those times.

Like has already been said, you put more work into your blog in one week than most of us do in one year and I'm reading you daily as soon as the Google Reader updates. I know there are plenty of others out there doing the same.

Keep up the good work.


7:13 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home