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Luck, skill in poker

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  • Luck, skill in poker

    On the RGP list there is a contributor who is much reviled but also often gains respect with insightful posts about poker. This one I found very interesting (I actually want to say "important")

    Good Players vs. Bad Players

    Let me state most poker players are not qualified to make a correct judgment on
    whether a poker player is good or bad. Poker is not a sport and many mediums
    exist in other occupations in life that add or take away credibility from good
    or bad players. Poker doesn't happen to be one of these.

    Luck is the "all important" determining factor in poker tournaments, as it is a
    great factor in full cash games. The shorter the game, the less luck factors
    enter the picture. We are talking high limits here and not the lower limits. In
    sports you see certain athletes excel, as well as others in different endeavors
    in life.

    You know Tiger Woods is a great golfer because of how he plays the game. The
    golf game at this time is dominated by Tiger Woods as skill is the most
    important factor in the game. As an experiment let us take 5 individuals who
    look the same in body appearance as Tiger Woods. Put bags over their heads so
    we don't know who is who. Realistically speaking, a professional golfer would
    be able to tell who the real Tiger Woods would be from the way he executes his
    skills from various positions on the course. He would not need to read about
    Tiger to know how good a player he is, as he could tell by the difficulty of
    certain shots being made. A non professional could not use this ability as he
    doesn't possess it.

    This is called recognition by your peers. Objective opinions are always
    available on different sources, as an individual like Tiger Woods shines in
    these events. But golf is a game without much luck, in comparison to poker.
    Chess is another game where luck is almost non existent. Easy to determine the
    good and the bad.

    Poker has very few mediums to let proper information out. Poker has a monopoly
    on the information let out. Does any reasonable person think there is as much
    skill to poker as to these other games? I read comparisons where poker is
    compared to chess. It is stated poker is more difficult to play. I read these
    articles in disbelief. The same people dominate these games for years, most
    without much of a luck variant. Poker has an enormous luck variant, yet it is
    continually disputed.

    The media has the spotlight on other events, and mistakes or improprieties are
    always shown if caught on camera, if just for the publicity or the shock value
    they provide. This isn't the case with poker, as anyone watching the PartyPoker
    Million Cruise would see a very biased infomercial of the event. Never was a
    mention made of the missing chips, the deals or the rash outbreaks by Barry
    Shulman or Phil Hellmuth. All this is shown in a positive light in to entice
    new players to a venue to lose their money.

    It is stated it is for the good of poker. The problem I have at this time is
    who poker is? It definitely isn't the players who are screwed and lied to that
    play low limits with unbeatable drops and collections. These people go by the
    wayside sooner or later and go over to slot machines or games they have a
    chance in, as many are only playing for recreation.

    The sooner you people realize what the term "for the good of poker" really
    means, is the sooner you will not have your head in the sand anymore. The good
    of poker means how much money those involved with casinos or their related
    employees can screw the unsuspecting public.

    The magazines offer these so called "poker champions" when nothing could be
    further from the truth. If you knew how these people lived, you would
    definitely change your minds. How is it possible for there to be so many
    "champion players"? The answer is it is not possible, as the "champions" are
    created for the people, in order for those controlling the higher echelons of
    poker to profit the most. Literally speaking there are 1000's of tournaments
    every year. These magazines create phony illusions to generate more revenue
    while fooling the public.

    The truth about professional tournament poker players is most have very small
    money. Quite the opposite of every other game. While other games have multi
    media covering events, poker always has one. It is then edited and any of the
    bad stuff left out. Does it seem you get the proper information about poker?

    Top cash professional players can tell how good other players are. It's been
    stated and corroborated the best poker players are cash players, not tournament
    players. Why do the tournament players have their pictures all over the place?
    They are not the best poker players. The top tournament player in any year
    would hardly break into the TOP 10 in cash player winnings. This includes those
    winning the big $10,000 event. Most winners of these events don't even have all
    of themselves.

    Top poker players can tell who is good and who is bad. They can tell who is
    lucky. You can get some tell how good a player is by how he wins, but a good
    poker player is determined on how he loses his money. Luck is an enormous
    factor in the game of poker, as winning and losing streaks can be long in
    length and harmful on a persons mentality.

    The poker media promotes everything as being a smooth running engine. Nothing
    is further from the truth. Pokers bad publicity keeps being covered up, as the
    ones in charge need new players to fleece. Don't they realize there are already
    enough players and only by giving the honest players a chance by not being so
    greedy with drops and collections, will poker ever flourish, besides giving
    players honest games at high levels.

    Players on winning streaks many know how to press their luck. The difference
    between the Good and the Bad is the how they lose their money. The bad players
    lose their money by gambling too much with the worst hand, quite frequently
    how they win their money. The Good players keep losing their money with the
    best of it, tightening up more and more while the cards aren't coming. The same
    way they win their money, with the occasional gambling.

    Russ Georgiev

  • #2
    Which thread is this?

    Because of the "news://" heading and the fact that this is not my news server, it comes up with a "Permission denied" error. I suspect this will be the case for others as well.

    Chris

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    • #3
      ..."Permission denied"...
      Sorry about that. I've edited it by simply (?) including the entire post.

      Comment


      • #4
        Not one of Russ's more coherent efforts, but tell me if I've got the gist :

        1. Tournament poker is a snake oil promotion. Too much luck required.
        2. Low-limit poker is (mostly) a snake oil promotion. The rake is too high to be beaten.
        3. Mid/high limit cash games have a beatable rake, but you have to be good to win.

        i.e. there is no hope for most of us ? Is that it ? :wink:

        Regards

        p.s. If my assessment of Russ's post is close, I'd agree with the gist.
        But it's fair to say that golf 'cost' me far more money (100% in fact) than I ever won playing that game.

        Comment


        • #5
          ...tell me if I've got the gist...
          Of course very few people speak of poker as recreational: most claim they're only interested in playing for profit. Not so with golf.

          I found it quite coherent, mainly in the matter of how important a factor luck is. Not so with golf.

          Casinos like tournaments in part because the tips for dealers are smaller, leaving more money for the drop. Also much bigger attendance which leads to the temptations ("while waiting for the tourney to start I played some blackjack") that they feature.

          Most golfers aren't in denial about how much they make gambling on their game - or are they?

          Comment


          • #6
            Geezer,
            You say...."casinos like tournaments, in part, because the tips for dealers are smaller, leaving more money for the drop"...I have never seen a tournament where the "tips" for dealers had any corrolation to the "money for the drop". The only thing close to this, that I can think of is Becky Behens "idea" of taking a % of the entry for "expenses", that is suppose to include the dealers tip, that she deemed to distribute as she wished, leaving the "house" far more than their share. In the US, at least as far as my exp. goes, there is an entry fee, that covers the "drop" and either a fixed % taken from the prize pool, usually about 3% set aside for the entire tournament dealing and floor staff, or the players tip the dealers individually.
            I have to say, honestly, I DO think it is nearly impossible to beat the rake in a $1 - $5, 7 card stud game, as the pots are generally so small, and the rake being 10%, it eats up the money in the game, but aside from that, I just don't see the rake, or rent, being so bad that you can't beat the game in any other games. When you have short handed games, you always have the option of requesting a rake reduction, that most casino card rooms will allow, simply to keep the game going in hopes of it filling up agian. In a full game, even at $4/8 limits, the action is generally big enough that there is enough money to "afford" the rake. Of course now, I"m making these statements based on the rake and rent rates that apply where I work and play. Rake in flop games is 10% with a $3 max, and in rent games, it's $5 per person per 1/2 hour.
            Although, I don't reccomend anyone quit their "day job" to try to make a living playing poker, unless you have the ability to survive the possibility of a long run of not winning, there are people making a living playing poker, and not all of them are living in cardboard boxes under bridges. A lot of the players that I know of who have the most problems with money, the problems are not generated from their poker playing, but from their other "gambling" ventures...blackjack, dice, roulette, sports betting..etc.
            I'm seeing a lot of statements made to the effect that "poker is a scam..to fleece the unsuspecting average Joe"...and frankly, I don't buy it. I will agree that a lot of the time, the money goes round and round and perhaps only one person emerges as making any substantial payoff in a game, but this "fleecing plot" that is perported is a mystery to me.
            As far as my personal experience....aside from the time I spent "paying for lessons" ie: learning by trial and error instead of trying to educate myself in advance (not a sytem I would highly reccomend), I have an overall winning record at poker. I'm not qutting my job, and I'm not going to be in any magazines, but by realizing what you can realistically expect to take away from any one particular game, and adhereing to the dicipline of getting out when you've booked that winner, I believe you can supplement your "income" playing poker....even at low limits. Now, I grant you, I'm not figuring in any expense for the cost of playing...ie: travel, food, lodging....etc., as I have the advantage of being where the games are every day, so perhaps my situation is more unique...but that being said...please give me your assessment of what I've related.


            'Goddess

            Comment


            • #7
              Russ certainly does have opinions that generate discussion, doesn't he?

              Russ said:
              Luck is the "all important" determining factor in poker tournaments, as it is a great factor in full cash games. The shorter the game, the less luck factors enter the picture.
              One could easily make a case statistically that Russ is correct in the first sentance. However, I would say that the longer the game, the less luck factors into it.

              One could easily see a 'bell curve' with ring game poker (assuming we eliminate the rake, for the moment) where the winners would be to the right and loosers to the left of the vertical axis. Add a 'rake' and the point on the x axis (x being horixontal) where the median person is, is in fact now to the left of the vertical axis. The point being that adding a rake makes it not a zero sum game. I think we all know that.

              I couldn't agree more with Russ' comments regarding "for the good of poker", and what that means. Russ said:
              The magazines offer these so called "poker champions" when nothing could be
              further from the truth. If you knew how these people lived, you would definitely change your minds. How is it possible for there to be so many "champion players"? The answer is it is not possible, as the "champions" are created for the people, in order for those controlling the higher echelons of poker to profit the most.
              Think boxing. Once upon a time there were 9 weight classes, and one recognized champion in each one. Now there is the WBA, WBO, IBF, etc., 15 or such weight classes, and about 3 to 4 different variations in each weight class. Because of people wanting to get in on the money. Big money. Poker has the same issue.
              Russ said:
              The poker media promotes everything as being a smooth running engine
              It does. Try reading Card Player and getting a feel for what went on at a tournament through one of their tournament articles. Or a true journalistic investigative reporting piece on shady dealings at a casino. Definately not the full picture, for the obvious reason that if they did they would be killing the "goose that laid the golden egg".....all of their sponsors would revolt. This kind of reporting reminds me of how sports reporting was done up til the 60s/70s. Writers would have to get close to stars and teams, and any writer who wrote negative was banned from the clubhouse. Or worse yet, had fired. The tales of the off-field exploits of Ruth, Cobb, Mantle, really never made the front page through investigative journalism. And certainly, few reporters, if any, took on the ownership or management of any major league. To do so was suicide. Poker reporting seems to me to be the same way. Clearly, the PokerPartyMillion show was just one big infomercial, designed and made that way.

              Russ is absolutely right in that, if some establishment would have a reasonable P&L on poker gambling, if someone would create a situation where the entrance fees and rakes weren't ridiculous, that they wouldn't need to ever go back, because the players would flock to it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by geezer
                Of course very few people speak of poker as recreational: most claim they're only interested in playing for profit.
                Yet poker is a negative-sum game where a chunk of the players' money supports a sizeable industry. Weird, eh?

                Cheers

                Comment


                • #9
                  One could easily make a case statistically that Russ is correct in the first sentance. However, I would say that the longer the game, the less luck factors into it.
                  He meant short as in short-handed. With regards big-bet, I would imagine he meant short-handed on deep money.

                  Comment


                  • #10

                    Deleted

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                    • #11
                      A good player knows how to use their lucky run?! what nonsense.

                      does the coin know it was heads last time you flipped it?

                      Luck in Chess is almost non-existent?! what nonsense.



                      I suspect it is like one of you said, that he is trying to provoke a reaction, these militant people make for interesting discussions.....

                      Just don't buy into this crap please.

                      CLAY

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        matts i dont think geezer agrees with the post he is just highlighting someones elses view for discussion

                        i personally no longer beleive in luck i have to go by my gut read on a players play and the odds to make a play.

                        if it means me going all in on a draw cause i got the odd you'll see me do it.
                        i have been play by the odds for a few months now and i have to say it has honestly improved my game ( i think)
                        as far as i am concerned luck can go out the window play the cards play the odds and hope that the odds stay in your favour.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          there has been so much material presented here that I hardly know where to start. But I will try to be brief.

                          One thing said was that cash players are better than tournament players. That's like comparing apples to oranges. The two must be played differently. A player good at one may not be good at the other. I have played ring games with some of those more famous players and can tell you that is a fact. Not to be name dropping, but I have played with Amarillo Slim, T. J., Bono, Cowboy, and others. I will not name names now, but some of those guys are welcomed with open arms in the ring games. The same is not true of them in tournaments.

                          The statement about screwing the players is not exactly correct either. I believe that most of the players who do not win look at it just as an entertainment expense, and I feel we should give them credit for being smart enough to know. Even Russ said "many are only playing for entertainment".

                          Now I can agree that luck is a very large factor in both tournament and games. However one point which suggests that skill is also a large factor, is that so many of the big name players have made it to the finals of the WSOP for many years now.

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