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Daniel - Poker Journal

Old School versus New School

17 Dec 2005

When I first started playing poker, you had to be a nice guy to get any action. Seriously, if you were a winning player in a house game, the only way that you could continue to play in a game was if they liked you. Otherwise, you wouldn't get an invite to the games.

That's the way it was before me, before casino poker, before the internet. I used to love listening to stories from the older guys about the way things were back then. The lifestyle, the hustle, the grind... it is all very intriguing.

Well, the days of having to be a nice guy are officially over! Today, there are a plethora of games to choose from, whether it be brick and mortar or the internet and the level of decency you had to show people in the past is fading.

When I started playing high limit poker at the Bellagio years ago, I remember looking at the other pros with respect. They were always very courteous to the tourists because they fully understood that those were their customers and the poker game was their store.

If they treated their customers badly, they would be less likely to see a return visit.

The pros also understood that in order to attract any customers, you first had to open the store! That meant that the pros would often have to play in tough games against only themselves hoping that a customer would drop in. Not exactly a profitable situation for them, but in order to attract customers somebody has to start the game

The game starters were the respected pros that were scratching each other’s back in a sense, by understanding that they should all be responsible for helping each other out.

Then you had the hated nits. They wouldn't start games, they weren't especially nice to the tourists, they'd hit and run, and they'd never cut a tourist a break in any situation.

The lowly nits depended on the game starters to start a game, but once a "live one' sat down they’d scurry like cockroaches to lock up a seat in the game.

The game starters did all the work, while the nits did nothing to contribute to the room or the "store" if you will.

In the $4000-$8000 game what you won't see are any nits. For a player to make it on that stage they would have understood by then, what it takes to survive as a pro.

The reason I bring this up, is because the internet has changed the scope of being a "host." The internet is the dream landscape for the nit, because they don't have to actually face people. Players today don't feel the need to give anything up. It's cutthroat all the way, leave no prisoners.

Over at www.fullcontactpoker.com I recently sat down in a $500-$1000 game with one of these young internet pros. The first time I sat with $20,000 and when I got short stacked he sat out not wanting to play against a short stack.

That session lasted all of 8 minutes, and then the next day I bought in for $30,000. Once again, in about 10 minutes or so I was down to $8000 in front of me and the nit sat out once again asking me to rebuy.

I explained that I didn't have any money in my account and would have to make some phone calls. I then told him to play me for my last $8000 and that I would rebuy if he busts me.

Now in the old days, stuff like this would NEVER happen. If I was beating up on a guy and he asked me to play an all-in pot for $1000, I would look to be the "nice guy" and oblige him.

Clearly I would prefer it if he would rebuy, but I wouldn't look to upset my "fish" by not giving him a chance to continue playing. It simply shows a lack of class.

Imagine if you were beating somebody for say, $100,000, and they only have $5000 left. You tell the poor guy, "Rebuy man, or I'm done with you." That's simply cold blooded.

The "manly" or respectable thing to do was to throw the guy a bone and let him continue playing. That's the way it's always been, but as I said the landscape has changed. Being a "nice guy" is hardly important in the online world which I think is a little bit sad.

I’m hardly an “old timer” by any stretch, but I do feel like a bridge between the old and the new poker world. I grew up as the old world was changing, and am in touch with the new world as well. As much as I love what’s happened with poker these days, I feel a little bit like the way Michael Jordan does about the current NBA.

In a 60 Minutes interview, Jordan said something to the effect of, “I don’t want to sound like an old-timer or anything, but these kids today in the NBA are being given so much money before they’ve earned it.’ He went on to explain that there is a lack of respect for the game, etc.

Well these days, there are more 24 year old poker players in the world with million dollar bankrolls than ever before. This offers them the opportunity to be their own boss, play when they want, etc. It can also be very detrimental to a young kid too. All that “pretty” money can change an otherwise humble kid into something very different.

I’ve seen far too many horror stories with 20 somethings suffering through ego related issues. I’ve seen them close up. In fact, I went through a period like that myself so I understand it as well as anybody.

I’m sure that kid I played is a good kid. He’s also an excellent player according to those I’ve talked to. The internet, though, makes people “type” things they likely wouldn’t say to someone in real life.

In about 20 minutes the kid has me down about $45,000. Playing at those limits, that’s not enough to really “prove” anything, but I think later this week I’ll be giving him a chance to bust me for some more money. He is apparently one of the best online players around and I’m looking to learn a thing or two from him, honestly.

It’s likely, that since he has more experience than I do playing online that he is the favorite. That’s ok with me, though, as I’ve always thrived on a challenge. Also, I have a lot of confidence in my ability to adjust to the online game.

I’d much rather play him in real life, of course, but I don’t think he’d want to do that. I’d like to be able to look at him…get a feel for when he is “steamed up” etc.

I’ll be a little busy today and tomorrow, but plan on depositing about $300,000 in my account so that I can play with a proper bankroll. You can watch the action at www.fullcontactpoker.com. I’ll be keeping people up to date on times I’ll be playing in the General Forum at FCP.

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