Thursday, March 6, 2014

Niches and Growth

As hard as it is to admit, I must do so now:  I am NOT an expert in all forms of poker.  Hell, I’m not an expert in most forms of poker.  But I do have a niche.

Most players are like me, but from my experience, few are ______ to admit it.  That blank space could be completed with a variety of words, such as,
  • “few are stupid enough to admit it” or
  • “few are smart enough to admit it” or
  • “few are aware enough to admit it” or even
  • “few are scared enough to admit it.”
That’s a lot of emotion for one aspect of one’s game.  I prefer to think I’m smart enough to admit I can’t play cash games as well as tournaments, and split-pot games are not my forte, but I seem to do very well with 7-card stud (even the few times I’ve played hi/lo).  While my live casino experience is very limited (closest casino in 40 years of playing is where I live right now - 2 1/2 hours away - no wonder I’m dying for online poker to return), I did well and I’ve always liked playing home poker games (and again, did well), so the jury is out on this one.

What’s your niche?  I know some players who prefer cash games, some who prefer tournaments, some who ONLY play Hold ‘em, some who loathe Hold ‘em, some who are lucky enough to live near a card room and practically live there, and others who actually considering moving to Mexico shortly after Black Friday. 

What’s more telling though, is how some players react when you ask them about their niche.  Some get all defensive - one cash player goes out of his way to mock and deride tournament players.  Truth is, his tournament experience can be summed up in one word - suckola.  So I guess this is his way of dealing with it.  Some know they are weak at PLO or Stud and just politely decline to be involved, and if they do get involved in HORSE they play very, very cautiously in their weaker games.

Still others know their weaknesses and try to improve (while remaining cautious about betting the farm if they do get involved).  This is by far the best way to play, and I’m about at this point in my poker development (after 40 years?) where I am coming out of my shell and trying to get better on my weak games and trying to improve in other areas of my game.

I gotta stop multi-tasking, for example.  I KNOW that distractions are, well…distracting, and I do not play my best when I’m doing something else while playing poker.  I stopped answering emails, doing payroll, and even writing this blog, and just last night I unplugged the headphones.  I like jazz, and it’ll have to wait…for now.

I am also starting to play the “other games” and I’m expanding my poker library, reading about strategy for Omaha and getting online in the forums for the new games like Badugi.  Thank goodness for play money (well spent when learning a new game).

And may I humbly suggest you do the same.  Here’s why - by learning other poker variations, it just might make your niche game better.  Here’s another reason - I believe that at some point more tournaments and more games in general will go the HORSE route.  Perhaps someday even the WSOP Main Event will move from Hold ‘em to HORSE.  And the final reason is this - if everyone plays nothing but Hold ‘em, you better be very, very good at Hold ‘em, or else they’ll be eating your lunch.  If your niche is their niche, perhaps you need another niche.

So what’s your niche?

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