Monday, September 01, 2008

Iron Man, Addictions, and Wealth Accumulation

By Pauly
New York City

"Showing off is the fool's idea of glory," is something that Bruce Lee said.

His words resonated in my head while I attempted to achieve Iron Man status on Full Tilt. And for me, my sights were not on the lowest levels... rather, I sought the highest level of honor and distinction. If I was going to make the effort to play almost everyday, well then I was going to strive for the highest goal.

Some call that stubbornness or pride or vanity. There is some truth in there. My pursuit was partially driven by the exact thing that Bruce Lee warned me about.

It was a conflicted accomplishment. I would never been able to achieve it without some sort of stability in my hectic travel schedule and at the same time, I would never have pushed myself if it weren't for selfish reasons.

Alas, what's done is done. I am Iron Man and instead of intoxicating myself on that distinction, I have spent more time that I should have devoted contemplating the significance of Iron Man.

In the end, does it really matter? The quick answer is yes... if I win the freeroll, then it was certainly worth the monetary incentive to chase down Iron Man.

But the slow answer is a weak maybe teetering on the thought that my pursuit of Iron Man was an utterly meaningless act and insignificant in the bigger scheme of things (as a poker player and as an individual). After all, all it did was generate more rake for Full Tilt as I lost a day of living attached to the laptop starring at four tables of cartoon-like avatars.

Online poker is a video game for me. The money lacks significance. It's just a score and not material. In a live poker game, sometimes you see the money on the table. Sure you play with chips, but have to rebuy with greenbacks. When you dig into your pocket and pull out a couple of big bills of the local currency, you can imagine what the buying power of the money in your hand as you toss it to the dealer for a rebuy or call over a chiprunner to snag you more bullets.

On the contrary, when you reload online all it takes is a simple click of the button. There's no physical exchange of currency. The transaction occurred in the virtual world. One second, you had $0 at your table and in the blink of an eye, you had a full buy-in, just like restarting a video game after you die.

But I often wonder if there's a backdoor at some online poker sites, like the Contra cheat codes from the glory days of Nintendo when you'd insert the code to get unlimited lives?

Don't bother trying it. The code doesn't work on Full Tilt or PokerStars. I dunno how many times I attempted the code to no avail... Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A.

* * * * *

I have no idea how long Full Tilt has been running Iron Man. Months? Years? I'm sort of oblivious to obvious things and vice versa... the oblivious stands out as the obvious to me. Prior to this month, the only thing I knew about Iron Man was the little chip on some of my opponent's avatars. The chip was also sort of a tell for me. I didn't necessarily assume that they were great players, but the chip indicated that they were frequent players. Thus, I treated them differently.

In limit ring games, players who multi-table more than three tables at once are often a bit tighter than those who only play one table. I play differently (more tighter) the more tables that I have open. Since I'm seeing four hands or so every ninety seconds, I can be more patient and selective.

When I play only one table, I often get bored and open myself up to distractions by writing emails or reading different online articles. Or if I'm totally card dead, I force the action and make moves where I shouldn't be making them and calling hands where I should be folding. Those weaknesses rarely bubble to the surface when I'm multi-tabling. I'm usually too involved in other hands to get in trouble at my other tables.

Game selection is one of the most important aspects of winning poker. You are looking for games you can beat and games that are profitable. If you don't have those optimal circumstances, well, then you don't play. Most of the time, losing players force that part of their game. Most people have a life outside of poker (work, family, etc) and that comes first. Usually they set aside time for poker during specific periods of time. They'll play no matter what especially if they have a small window of time to play. The result? People playing under non-optimal circumstances. They are treating poker like a hobby or a leisurely pursuit such as reading a book.

I try to avoid that trap and play only when it suits me the best. How many times are you looking for a specific level or table (online or live) and it is full, so you reluctantly sit down at a level higher or lower to kill time? Sometimes you're not paying attention or fucking around at a lower limit. I'm definitely guilty of that activity in the past.

I usually seek out 10/20 or 8/16 LHE full ring games on Full Tilt, but those don't run as often as I'd like. So I end up on 5/10 tables or short-handed 8/16 tables. Sometimes I win. Sometimes I lose. But the bottom line is that I shouldn't be sitting there.

During the pursuit of Iron Man, I found myself playing 3-4 tables of 5/10. I don't like playing those levels because the game is too loose and that's how I like to play. The action tightens up as you slowly climb into the middle limits and I can play my style more comfortably then. The setback is that those games don't form frequently. In the past, I wait for one of those tables to open up or I actively seek out bad players and sit at their tables hoping that they'd dump chips to me.

During Iron Man, almost every single day fired up several 5/10 LHE tables with the occasional 8/16 table. I was slightly concerned because the root of those decisions was to accumulate as many points as I could in a small amount of time... instead of my precious strategy of hit and run play. That winning philosophy suited my travel and work schedule since I never knew when I'd have a free moment to play. I also actively limited playing online poker because I had more important things on the agenda such as writing, cultivating my existing artistic projects, and spending time outdoors.

If the games were not good, I didn't play. Period. The result was that in early 2008, I played less online poker than in the previous years.

However, trying to attain Iron Man fed into my deviant degeneracy. For four weeks, I allowed myself to be a degenerate. Sometimes it was simply awesome. Shitfaced. High as a kite. Playing online poker with music blasting. Other times I was morally conflicted. I knew that I was feeding the beast within while dumping more money in the accounts of the fat cats at Full Tilt.

The wealthiest individuals in the world are wealthy because of your morbid addictions. The inability to curtail your spending on those addictions (oil, cigarettes, coffee, beauty items, religion, online poker, pharmaceutical drugs) generates more income for the elites. Simply put, they get richer every single day that you are alive.

Iron Man was an excuse to play everyday and I justified breaking a lot of my self-imposed rules to basically show off. After some reflection, I'm satisfied that set a goal and accomplished that goal. However, I'm not so thrilled that I made decisions (mostly regarding length of play and table selection) that were less than optimal.

If I ever decide to chase down Iron Man again, I'm going to make it fit into my philosophy of playing rather than vice versa.

Don't get pussy whipped. You gotta whip that pussy.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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