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TheLangolier's blog

/Jan/2012

Don't fall down on the job

By: TheLangolier @ 13:36 (EST) / 901 / Comment ( 6 )

Why do you play poker?  Many answer this question by saying “to make money”,  and that’s all well and good, but there are many other reasons people play poker.  In fact many play just because it’s fun.  They know they’re an underdog long term, but play simply for the enjoyment and social aspects of the game.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.  We call them  “recreational players”.  Most of them understand that, while they can win on any given day, in the long run this game will cost them money.  But they’re good with that… they’re playing purely for the enjoyment that poker brings them, and often at a monetary cost (long term) that  is comparable to or maybe even less than other hobbies they might enjoy.  I can’t tell you the number of times I heard a tourist at the tables in Vegas say they liked to play poker because their money lasted longer than it did in the pit.  Now you might say sure, recreational players play the game for fun, but it’s more fun to win money too!   Yes, winning money is fun, but winning money consistently over time by becoming a good, knowledgeable player is actually hard work.  If it were easy everyone would be doing it.   Most recreational players are content to learn enough not to get slaughtered, and just play. 
 
If you answered the initial question with “to make money”, then you should covet these recreational players.  Because for all our dazzling play, the fact is most of our profit comes from the mistakes of our opponents.   Everyone makes mistakes at the tables, but if we make fewer mistakes, and smaller mistakes than our opponents, we’ll have a long term edge that translates to consistent long term positive results.  And recreational players are the largest source of this edge for the more serious students of the game.  
 
Most pros understand this well.  If you are a pro, i.e. you derive your income from playing poker, then essentially the recreational players are some of your best customers… and it’s your *job* to keep the customers happy.   This is why you will rarely see a strong player berating a poor player for making a bad play and getting lucky.  They understand that these plays provide a big edge, and big edges are still a volume game, as a single big edge is very rarely a 100% certainty to win (even a 90% favorite will lose 1 time in 10 after all).   And, there’s not much recreation involved in getting chastised, now is there?  

Put yourself in the recreational player’s shoes for a minute.  You usually lose money but you don’t mind so much because you play for fun and it’s cheaper (and more fun!) than some other activities you could chose… but when you finally get lucky and win a big pot, some know it all is going to try and make you feel stupid?  They didn’t complain all the times your gamble didn’t get lucky.  So now you have to lose OR feel stupid for getting lucky?   

Hopefully when you look at it from this perspective, you can see where this might encourage the recreational player to try and learn a bit more, and play a bit better (which is not good for YOUR bottom line), or even worse, quit playing all together.  

So the next time a bad player makes a bad play against you, and you come out on the wrong end of the result, try and remember this.  It’s their chips, and they’re entitled to play them any way they want.  And although we can’t win every single one of these confrontations, we should be thankful for the opportunity to have them rather than resentful at the result of an individual trial.  The “long term” is likely to come out much better for you if the customer is happy and keeps giving you their business.  :wink:  
 

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