Three Players and Reading Poker Books

This post is just some observations about three distinctly different players who regularly play in my games.  The reason that I chose to write about them is that of the three, two of their approaches to poker really puzzles me.  The reason I included the third one will become evident later in this post.  I believe they’re fairly representative of players from almost any home game.  Even though only one (I think) reads my blogs, I’ll give them ficticious names.

The first one, “Houston”, is a very good player.  His style of play seems to make him a much better cash game player than tournament player.  His stated main purpose in playing poker is to make money, and I think that overall, he is a winning player.  The thing that puzzles me about Houston is the fact that he doesn’t read about or study poker.  He has become a very good player mainly by playing a lot, but I would think that if one’s express goal is to make money, especially a lot of money, in an endeavor, then they would want to do everything possible to improve.  I feel “pretty competent” at poker, but realize that I still have A LOT of room for improvement.  Consequently, I play as much as I can (which isn’t nearly as much as I’d like, especially now that online poker is shut-down); I read about it, watch poker on TV, and discuss strategy with fellow players whenever I can.  I read somewhere once, that Phil Ivey thinks about poker all-of-the-time; probably one of the reasons he’s widely considered one of the best players, if not THE best, in the world.

Another player, we’ll call him “Sam”, is really bewildering to me.  Although, I think I do understand his viewpoint somewhat.  He is probably one of the biggest “fish” in our game.  He plays almost every time, yet has never cashed in the tournament (he has cashed in other’s small home game tournaments), and usually loses money in the cash game.  Occasionally, he will make some money in the cash game when the “deck hits him in the head”.  He does know the basics, and plays quite a bit, but knows nothing about the game outside of the home games he plays in.  He has “no clue” who Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, or Phil Helmuth are.  He’s the typical novice that will call an all-in bet with any Ace if there’s an Ace on the board.  He even commented to me once that he seems to have the second best hand a lot – really! LOL!!  He’s never read a word about poker.  I think that most people, when they take-up a new hobby try to learn about it.  So, it’s difficult to understand people like “Sam”.  I can understand this kind of mentality from someone who just plays poker a few times a year or uses it as an excuse to drink, but Sam plays on average a couple of times a week.  Even though he’s not a serious player, I would think that Sam would just get tired of loosing money and at least try to improve a little.  I suppose I just need to accept the fact that his attitude is that he’s just spending money for entertainment. 

The last player, “Dolph”, is just about the exact opposite of “Sam”.  He’s been playing less than a couple of years, but has cashed in at least a couple of WSOP events and regularly makes money in tournaments and “cash games” in both home games and casinos. What’s so different about Dolph?   Not only does Dolph play a lot, he also reads and studies poker A LOT.  I think he’s the only one mentioned here that reads my blog. :D

Why are players like Sam and Houston ( :) ) unwilling to read poker books?  Is it laziness, or just an aversion to reading?  I read somewhere that the degree of difference between being good and great at anything is actually relatively small.  So, I would think that anyone wanting to become great (or even really good) at something would seek out every possible resource at their disposal.  In any endeavor, there are a lot of people who say they want to be successful, but relatively few actually succeed at becoming truly successful.  I also just heard recently that to become really good at anything, you need to put in about 10,000 hours studying/practicing/participating in it.  Of course, especially in poker, there is some luck involved,  but as the old saying goes, “the harder I work, the luckier I get”.

Will Dolph win, or at least go very deep, in a large tournament someday?  Truly, it’s hard to say, but IMHO, he has a lot better chance than Sam or Houston.

There are so many good poker books, it’s very difficult to name just a few; but, here are some I’ve read or will soon be reading:

And, for Omaha:

Thanks for reading!  And, please feel free to leave a comment naming any really good poker books that you would recommend.  I’m always anxious to learn more about poker to gain any “edge” against the sharks that I play with.

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