Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"High-Stakes Poker" high-class late-night TV

So Baby England, aka Mr. Spaz, decided that at 10:30 p.m., just as I was coming home from work, that he had had enough sleep for the night.
Ah. Nothing like a four-hour nap to make you feel refreshed. I think I'm gonna crawl around for a while.
I guess that was his thinking. So, as I finally decided to dig into a new X-Box game after a long day of work and watching Baby England before that, Mrs. England (Mrs. Pokerpeaker?) brings down an active boy and says, "Can you watch him?"
Inevitably, of course, that means no more X-Box, although he did sit with me so I could finish the first level. Thanks man. I brushed my teeth and went upstairs and flipped on the tube as he squirmed around Midnight.
Sweet. High Stakes Poker is on, Monday's last episode, I guess.
Boy, did that ease the pain.
This might be my favorite poker show, save for watching the World Series poker on ESPN. This is how these guys make their living, at these high stakes matches, so I felt like I really got an idea of their true lifestyles. Getting to watch Barry Greenstein and Sam Farah battle it out for $350,000 was awesome, even if it did make my $20 taken that day seem a little, well, puny.
Some observations:
• Watching Daniel Negreanu come back to almost even after losting nearly a $1 million is a great example of how Tilt shouldn't exist in your vocabulary. It's no excuse to blow half your bankroll because "you were on Tilt." Each hand is a new one, each game is a new one, and all you have to do is play every hand with exactly the same calm emotion as the one before it. There's a great lesson there. I hope I can follow it in the future.
• Phil Helmuth is a better player than I thought. I know the guy has won nine world championships, but his game seemed a little too predictable for me, especially in this age of poker, when he just bitched about guys playing K,J instead of adjusting his play to fit the new, wilder style.
Helmuth mixes it up as well as anyone and bluffs well. He got Jennifer Harman to call a big bet on the river with a pair of 9s. I know it was difficult for her to put him on small cards given his reputation, but he got the pot because he mixed it up. Lesson learned: Going against your reputation or table image is how you'll make the most money, as long as you do it well.
• I wonder how much these guys really make every year. $25,000 seems like nothing to them.
• I felt better about my own play after watching them. They make mistakes, too, and play hands like K,10 "just to see the flop." They get outkicked, flushed out and straighted just like the best of us. I beat myself up too much for making one bad call, and I shouldn't. Poker is not a perfect game.
The key is they don't do it very often. For every bad decision they make they probably make 10 good ones (even if it doesn't always work out for them). My ratio isn't that high, but it's probably higher than many Internet players (I'm a winning player, so I think this is true). Even so, try to work on upping that ratio but not destroying yourself when you do play a hand badly.
•  I do need to loosen up more at the tables, just a little more. Yes, chances are at a large table that someone has a good starting hand, but that doesn't mean they've got the nuts once the flop hits. Monsters were rare in that game.
Bring the show back for a new season, GSN. It's one of the best things on TV right now. Besides, I need something to watch late at night if Jayden decides to punch in another late-night session.


cc said...

I agree that it is the best poker on TV, additionally for the fact that it lets Gabe Kaplan shine as the absolute light-years-ahead-of-everyone best commentator. The one guy I would absolutely leave if he said down at my cash game table would be Deeb. That guy was psychic to the nth degree. They just wrapped season II yesterday. The other side note is the guy who produced High Stakes Poker also invented the hole cameras, as well as Transformers.

TripJax said...

I was less impressed with Hellmuth and more impressed with Esfandiari (though I think he is rather toolish).

Esfandiari loses 200k on bad beats and is joking it up. Hellmuth makes a bad call to Greenstein and blames everyone in the world but him. It is just too easy to talk shit about him so I'll leave it at that.

I love watching the show too. TripBoy watches it with me on occasion. He asked what all the beeping meant when Hellmuth was in the middle of one of his rants. I just laughed and told him the bad man was not happy.