That’s the sound of my confidence bouncing back from the subterranean level. The last two weeks have left me feeling like I’m really on my game. When I analyze my play, I either end up feeling sky high or miserable about it. I think the absence of any middle ground (where the truth likely resides) is due to the relative youth of my poker career. I’m still not used to the swings, so my self-confidence gravitates in the direction of my most recent results.
I finished exactly 100th in Event #38, which was about as good as was possible with the cards I was dealt on Day Two.
That’s also the sound of a basketball being bounced.
You see, during the tournament, something occurred to me. I realized that in these $1500 events with 3,000 person fields, I have way more tricks up my sleeve than the average player. My experience and study has enabled me to understand how relative stack sizes, position, stack-to-blind ratios, table image, table dynamics, and other factors all combine to create a good strategy for each hand. In short, I’m a better preflop player than at least 90% of these fields.
It reminded me of something that really has nothing to do with poker: playing basketball. When I was a lot younger–throughout high school, and when I came home on breaks from college and law school, I used to play a lot of pickup basketball (also stickball), usually at an outdoor court in Sea Cliff, New York. The participants varied widely in age, size, and skill level–you were equally likely to encounter an old fat guy wearing kneepads and smelling like Ben-Gay as you were a senior on the varsity team–but any group of three was welcome to play halfcourt ball, provided they called out that they “got next.”
This was not West 4th Street. These games were pretty novice, and there was one thing separated the good players from the hopeless ones: the ability to dribble the basketball. I don’t mean to say that this was a game full of bozos bouncing the ball off their own legs; most of us were pretty decent. But there were a couple of guys who really had a “handle.” That is, they could dribble out of trouble and create opportunities for themselves, even when it meant going between their legs, behind their backs, using a stutter-dribble, a yo-yo dribble… whatever the situation required. These players, even when they were very small or terrible shooters, usually ended up on the winning team in our little three-on-three games. There is only one way to acquire the skills these kids had: combine a modicum of talent with a whole lot of practice.
That’s me in a No Limit Hold-Em tournament with a massive field. I can dribble circles around the average clod.