Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Elvis Has Left The Building

Stopped by the Guru's house last night to wish him a safe trip and happy new life in the Philippines; he's jetting off this morning with his kids to Seattle for a week-long vacation, and then it's down to The Republic of the P for a permanent relocation, new marriage, and completely different lifestyle than the one he has been leading here in the USofA. Big changes are ahead for him, I wish he and his girls the best.
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Had a interesting discussion with Mr. Multi yesterday, who thinks my RED-M method is all wet. He says that with RED-M I'm trying to distill a "parallel analog" process of playing a poker hand into a digital one, and that this is doomed to not work efficiently. Instead, he believes that poker is best taught to a newbie by simply having them play tens of thousands of hands whilst helping them work on discerning patterns and reactions. For example, someone limps in early position, two other callers enter the pot, and the action is to you. What should you do? Per MM, you should recognize the "pattern" of a squeeze play here and raise.

Uh, okay. But what if the first limper is a pseudo-tricky player who is likely to limp-reraise with AA or KK from EP? Or what if he's actually tricky, and limp-RR's to represent rockets or cowboys? Or what if the second player likes to cold-call PF with AKs? Per MM's method, after a million hands or so, you would be able to identify these additional factors, and then recognize the correct pattern of a fold, not a squeeze.

Like I said: Uh, okay. While this pattern approach probably works in the long run, I believe this is a highly inefficient way of teaching a newbie how to play poker. In fact, I'd argue that most players would give up during the learning process, as it would be incredibly frustrating to recognize a squeeze, only to discover that you should have folded-- and lose your stack in the meantime. Said another way, it seems like this is like learning to solve a physics word problem by recognizing the pattern of the problem and then jumping right to an answer.

I respect MM's game, so I need to give his pattern recognition idea some more thought. In the meantime, however, we're going to have to agree to disagree on this. Said another way, I'm more of a adherent to step-by-step logical break downs of a poker hand. I think a simple four-step process like RED-M* can be used in a basic format for newbies, and then expanded upon up through all the different levels of play. Said another way, I believe that it's much more important to learn the logical "why's" of a poker hand than just the rote "what's" of a hand pattern and corresponding reaction.
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The November Nine got set at the WSOP overnight. I don't recognize any of the names, even though I've watched 5+ hours of taped main event coverage on ESPN so far (I've got something like 40 hours taped). Why don't I recognize anyone? Because ESPN's new coverage format, in a word, sucks. You only get to watch two tables of the entire tournament (the so-called "featured" table, and the a back-up, lesser "featured" table). You don't get to see any other action in the entire tournament. If a player isn't at one of the two featured tables, you don't get to see them. None of the NN have been at the featured tables thus far in the video coverage I've watched, so I have no clue who they are. Bizarre to show only 18 players in an 8000+ entrant tournament.

Also, you don't get to see the hole cards until after the hand is played. While this could be good from a theoretical point of view (pattern matching, anyone?), it makes for really uninteresting TV poker.

I do like the the announcers, as they tend to break down hands and actually discuss reads, equity estimation, line decisions, and the like. But the rest of the coverage aspects are horrible.

All-in for now....
-Bug
*I need to point out that I've created RED-M as just a means of breaking down a hand. I'm not sure it's the best method (nor am I convinced that it actually will hold up to repeated scrutiny). It is, however, an honest attempt to create a logical framework in which newbies and experienced players alike can attack and "solve" a poker hand problem. Also, MM pointed out yesterday that perhaps a better acronym would be RED-I, as the last step in my process is actually better described as "implementation" and not "maximize."

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