Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Friday, April 15, 2005

If it makes you happy...
Written by: Beck

A striking number of prominent bloggers have been complaining about Blogging Malaise. They have various reasons for being unhappy with blogging. Me? I'm not tired of the blog at all, but I have found myself rather lacking of motivation to really crank out the top-notch high-volume quality analysis and commentary that our regular readers have become used to. Of course, some of that has to do with my current job, which keeps me rather busier than I had been in the past, and some of that has to do with a lack of current events which sufficiently interest me.

So rather than slogging away at marginally interesting topics and forcing myself to find original things to say about subjects I've already said more than I ever imagined I would in my entire lifetime, I've decided to begin periodically blogging about something else that interests me. It has nothing to do with politics or economics or, um, politics. And no, it's not porn. So say hello to the newest feature at INCITE: poker blogging.

I have to imagine that most of the regular readers here aren't regular poker players. Don't worry. It'll only be a small percentage of what I write, and most of my material will remain as on-topic as ever. What's more, I'll try to keep things interesting and informative even for novices and non-players.

By far the best thing about living in Jersey now is my proximity to Atlantic City, where I spend much of my time off fleecing the tourists at the poker tables. I started playing poker four or five months ago (which you may note coincides roughly with the drop-off in my volume of regular posting here), and I've never looked back. I like to think of it as a sport that you play by sitting on your ass and moving around small pieces of plastic. At least that's what I tell myself when I'm spending 12 hours at a table with nine other people and draining Coronas.

So here's my first poker-blogging for you:

Kenny Rogers was wrong. You always count your money while you're sitting at the table.

Not knowing how you're doing money-wise would be like a golfer not paying attention to penalty strokes. You have no idea of how well you're doing, no way to know if your game is improving, no way to set or attain goals. Poker is not for slackers; in terms of effort to master the game, it requires as much dedication and work as the hardest working professional athletes. Minus all the sweating.

In no-limit games, if you don't know how much you have in front of you, you're double-fucked. Your chips are a form of strength--the more you have, the more you can push people around & make them play reactively. You always want to have a good idea of how many chips the other players at the table have--why on earth wouldn't you want to have an even better idea about how many chips you have in front of yourself?

And don't tell me about it being bad luck. Bad luck is not knowing that you're hemorrhaging money. Whether or not you're counting your little plastic chips has nothing to do whatsoever with what the cards do. Picking up bad habits out of a misguided sense of superstition is a sure bet for losing your bankroll. Just don't do it.

Doyle Brunson, in his book Poker Wisdom of a Champion, tells a story about a game he was at where someone sat down and noticed Doyle counting down his chips. He admonished Doyle not to do that--that everyone knows you never count your money while you're sitting at the table. When the guy left the table flat broke several hours later, another player at the table (I forget his name and don't have the book in front of me) called after him, and I paraphrase, "You were right. If you wait 'til you're done, they're a lot easier to count!"

Not that Kenny Rogers didn't write one hell of a song.

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