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More Objections to My Blog

by Alan Schoonmaker |  Published: Apr 25, '11

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Hi Everybody,

Since I’ve been publishing for over forty years, I’m used to public criticism by people who misconstrue what I’ve written. Here are two examples of reactions to my first blog about the indictments.

1. A friend sent an email to our discussion group which included the following sentence: “I wholeheartedly do not think that bending over and taking it with a smile on my face is the only reasonable response.”

2. In the “Comments” area below the blog Cold Harbor wrote: “So let me get this straight- your advice is don’t write or call our leaders in Congress because we might piss them off? That we should do nothing but sit and hope that better people get voted into office in the next election? Sorry, but that is not a logical approach. That is a passive, wishy washy, let’s hope it all works out someday approach. Until the millions of poker players finally voice their outrage over their rights being trampled upon, nothing will change. Instead you will allow the moral police to keep winning because they are not afraid to be activists. If there ever was a time to speak up, it is now.”

Both critics are expressing anger, not trying to solve their own problem. And they are certainly putting words into my mouth. I challenge you to find anything I’ve written recommending that we bend over, take it, and smile. In fact, the very first words of my blog were, “The DOJ’s indictments were an abomination.”

I’m as angry as most of my friends, but the worse a situation is, the more important it becomes to stay cool and rational. People who let their anger control their actions make expensive mistakes.

I certainly did not say that we shouldn’t write to Congress because it might piss them off. I just said that writing, etc. would not have the results we would like to see, at least not for a very long time.

If you think that pressure from us will work quickly, I have a prop bet for you. I’ll bet any amount up to $10,000 that the DOJ will not allow Americans to play at Poker Stars or Full Tilt in 2011. All the money has to be put into a safe escrow account. If you seriously think letters etc. will work, here’s your chance to make an easy $10K. This offer expires in 48 hours.

All I recommend is that you analyze the situation dispassionately and then take the actions which are most likely to produce favorable results. That’s what sensible poker players always do. Let me quote from that blog:

“Instrumental actions are taken to cause a specific result. For example, before raising, you should know which result you want and why raising is likely to produce it: You may want to thin the field, build the pot, or get a free card. If you don’t know the result you want or are unlikely to get that result, don’t raise.”

I’ve added italics to the last sentence because it’s the critical one. Bending over, taking it, and smiling will obviously not have the result anyone wants. Neither will writing and calling our leaders in Congress, at least not within a few months. And, if you’re dependent upon your poker income, you need money now.

Let me continue the poker analogy, but deal with only one purpose of raising in a limit game: You have a vulnerable hand and want to thin the field. If you believe that the players behind you will almost certainly cold-call your raise on the flop, don’t raise. Call the bet, see whether the turn is favorable, and then raise if you think some players may fold to two large bets.

Many people don’t seriously think about what a raise will accomplish. They just raise, get called, get rivered, and then whine, “I can’t protect my hand against these idiots.”
You’ve heard it again and again. You may have even said it yourself. The doofus who made that dumb raise blamed his opponents for not doing what he wanted them to do, but – if he had analyzed the situation more intelligently – he would have played the hand differently.

We’ve just been dealt some terrible cards. The natural reaction is to complain about them, but that reaction conflicts with everything we know about poker. We have to play the cards we’re dealt as well as we can. So the question we all have to answer is: Which course of action will have the highest EV?

I must also point out that you can’t choose the best alternative if you delude yourself about the probabilities of your action’s effects. If, for example, you don’t study the players well enough to know that they are likely to cold-call your flop bet, you can’t make an intelligent decision about whether and when to raise.

The same point about realistic analysis certainly applies to this situation. Some people believe that letters, phone calls, etc. will cause the system to give us what we want. They are letting their hopes distort their perceptions. Again, I’m reminded of my Berkeley student days.

In the sixties demonstrations by Berkeley’s students were like football pep rallies. They were fun, and we wanted to believe that we were accomplishing something. Pep rallies supposedly “pump up” the team, and demonstrations supposedly helped our causes, and we had many wonderful causes.

I remember a demo against the restaurants in Oakland’s Jack London Square. We insisted that they had to do something. I can’t remember what it was, but it was certainly something “good.” We were idealistic and naive.

We were walking back and forth, carrying our signs, chanting our slogans. One of the leaders made a speech. He pointed to the restaurants and said, “We’re winning. They can’t take much more of this pressure.”

We roared their approval and went back to marching around.

But I suddenly realized that the speaker was obviously wrong. The restaurants were packed, and the customers were watching us with amused looks on their faces. Despite our idealistic desires, we were helping the restaurants’ owners. We were providing unpaid entertainment, pulling in customers for them.

I think that was my last demonstration. Why waste my time and energy when the result was exactly the opposite of what we were trying to achieve?

The same principle applies to our current situation. Obama, The Attorney General, and Congress are not going to yield to us, no matter how many letters and phone calls we make. And the more we rant, rave, or even threaten, the more we reinforce the negative stereotypes about poker players, thereby helping our enemies.

We should therefore take two steps:
1. Dispassionately assess all of our alternatives. What can we do, and what are the probabilities that each course of action will produce the results we want?
2. Pick the alternative that offers the highest EV (desirability times probability)

Learning how to adjust to B&M games may not produce the result you’d like, but that result will probably better than any other one you can reasonably expect.

If you have a question, please add it in any comment section, or e-mail me alan_schoonmaker@yahoo.com. Before emailing, please check my first blog, “What is poker psychology coaching?”

 
Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of CardPlayer.com.
 

Comments

texasroadgambler
11 years ago

Is there going to be a "pop quiz" after this lecture professor?

The one word that comes to mind here is "verbose".

 
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clunker
11 years ago

Do you really think the President had any thing to do with this? The main parts of the indictment were for bribery and money laundering. But because these criminal activities took place at poker sites law enforcement should overlook these criminal activities? The law is the law whether you agree or not, just because you don't like the law does not mean you can ignore it without there being consequences. Try to change the law yes ignore and break it no.

 
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iamluksak
11 years ago

Most online players do not have a chance in a B&M cash game. a few will get lucky in a tournament, but the ones who play 1-2 to 5-10 will be broke in record time. Has anyone who plays in a regular game at a casino ever seen an online player that was a winning player. Most online players who play where I play are always good for the game.

 
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answer20
11 years ago

Agree ... to a point ... onliners gernerally aren't good with the physical tells nor the 'long' time it takes to have a session of live poker. (How many online folk 1-table?) ... Both of which lose hands for them, but most will try to counteract that with trying to be a table boss to make up for the losses when they are snapped off. Big difference between playing 1-2 against 2-5 or 5-10 games. It is not lack of skill that will cost them but lack of a willingness to adapt ... but when they do adapt, they may be more dangerous!!

 
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iamluksak
11 years ago

@answer20:
You are right about the internet players wanting to be table boss, and end up being easy to trap and felt.
I believe the winning pro internet players are all playing too fast. Whethter they know it or not, they are taking advantage of the make up software that the non-regulated poker sites use to max out the rake.
If you know that the worst hand has a better chance of winning than it should, the only real advantage you have is taking down a pot. Fold equity is the only way to win on internet poker.
When I play live at a casino, I see these internet kids look surprised when they miss 2 flush draws in a row, and have to leave the game because they lost 2 hands. They call that poker.

 
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Sam Rothstein
11 years ago

I'm very glad that these rigged sites are down personally. I'm glad for all the players losing their paychecks to these sites. I have read that they enjoyed money laundering activities. What other activities could they be doing with this greedy lack of ethics at play? I'm sorry that a lot of you are angry at Dr. Schoonmaker, because the the FBI took away your focus of addiction. (it's called the anger phase guys) : )

check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL72sE7IIrk

peace

 
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Ronin555
11 years ago

I agree with texasroadgambler assessment of Al's blog, only I would use the word "didactic." He may be the most unlikable blogger here.

 
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Ronin555
11 years ago

I agree with texasroadgambler assessment of Al's blog, only I would use the word "didactic." He may be the most unlikable blogger here.

 
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Ronin555
11 years ago

I agree with texasroadgambler assessment of Al's blog, only I would use the word "didactic." He may be the most unlikable blogger here.

 
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Ronin555
11 years ago

Apparently, you should never hit the post button more than once.

 
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Ronin555
11 years ago

I agree with texasroadgambler assessment of Al's blog, only I would use the word "didactic." He may be the most unlikable blogger here.

 
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mikeyb111
11 years ago

Although you may not have put it into words that "we should bend over and take it with a smile" , that is what you are tacitly implying. All good poker players are able to make inferences from the clues their opponents provide them. I will make a prop bet with you for 10K (set to expire in 48 hours) that that is what you really want us to do.

 
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idaman2000
11 years ago

So you don't want us to write our leaders and you don't want us to organize and protest, but you want us to:

"We should therefore take two steps:
1. Dispassionately assess all of our alternatives. What can we do, and what are the probabilities that each course of action will produce the results we want?
2. Pick the alternative that offers the highest EV (desirability times probability)."

Do you actually have any ideas of what we should do? Do you have any suggestions because writing our leaders and protesting seem to be about the only options poker players have? Obviously you don't fully grasp the concept of a democracy. I'm not saying it will do any good to write our leaders, but what other options do we have???

Again you say, "All I recommend is that you analyze the situation dispassionately and then take the actions which are most likely to produce favorable results. That’s what sensible poker players always do."

I would like your next blog to offer some dipassionately anyalyzed suggestions and alternatives. How else do you take on the government? It is poker players vs. the governement. I know you aren't going to sugges taking up arms. I will continue to read your blogs like everbody elses blogs on here, but you are killing me with you lack of ideas and negativity towards people actually trying to do something.

You write, "And the more we rant, rave, or even threaten, the more we reinforce the negative stereotypes about poker players, thereby helping our enemies"

Just because we write our congressman and call, you assume we are cussing them out and giving off a negative stereotype towards poker players. I guess you are not for the PPA writing a standard letter (which I believe expresses our concerns in a logical and positive light)and having hundreds of thousands of poker players sign and forward it on? Well that is what I did and if you think that is giving us poker players a bad sterotype then I am sorry.

GL to everybody at the casinos!
I'm all in!

 
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