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Good Hunting: A Predator's Guide to Choosing the Right Game
You win some and you lose some; that's the nature of games of chance.
If you can't handle it maybe you should become a bus driver instead.
Or you could try to specialize in a game. And you should.
It Was Always Cash Games
No-Limit Holdem was the obvious choice a decade ago.
But today everybody plays it pretty good.
There's also an abundance of excellent material to study so now pretty much any random monkey can become good at it.
Seven years ago the right choice was to go all in on heads-up play.
Four years ago the obvious choice was PLO. It's the next step from Holdem and a lot more fun according to almost everybody.
It was always cash games, of course, but now the value has really dried up online.
Two years ago the value was in tournaments. The value is still there but it will dry up as well. It's just a matter of time.
Now you can find value in all Limit games. And the chances of finding a waterhole will increase when more players try to find new value when their current bread and butter has turned dry and sour.
But don't go all in on H.O.R.S.E. The effort it takes is big and the reward might be gone when you finally get there.
Where They Are and Where They're Going
How about other games?
Backgammon is solved and all the world-class-players moved on to poker a long time ago.
Backgammon is otherwise the best game because you have the fish by yourself. But how do you get the fish on your own these days?
Chess is so complicated that it takes many hours a day of studying to stay competitive. Only the World Champion makes any real money.
The computers have taken away the glamor and mystique. An international master I played with at the poker table said that all elite players hate the game.
I understand and believe him. All smart chess players moved on to poker a long time ago because there is no luck in chess.
The fish moved on a century before that. Gin Rummy? I don't think so.
The key is to figure out where the fish are or where they are going. Is, always has been and always will be.
That's 2.5 Big Macs Before Bed
One or two years after Pavan and I lived together in London he went to New York to play backgammon at the Ace Point club.
He loved it there. Probably because there where literally hundreds of food menus to chose from with different restaurants delivering to the club.
He really likes the New York portions as well. Before he went to bed he always finished the day with a pint of Ben & Jerry's.
We had another argument – we were really like two old grumpy men – about how fattening that was.
He had no idea how many calories there were in the pint. I read on the back and informed him that it was 1,200.
“That's like eating 2.5 Big Macs just before you go to bed every night. And it's all fat and sugar.”
He looked at me like maybe I had a point but decided to instantly suppress the information. Because it tasted so good I assume.
It was in New York he laid his foundation of “sittfläsk," a built-in-cushion that works even better than a leatherass.
I visited him there and the first night we obviously decided to gamble a bit before we went to bed.
Since I was much better at poker and he was much better at backgammon he suggested Gin Rummy. He had played it a bit in New York and explained the rules to me.
Later in the week I bough a leather-bound book at the club from someone who was supposed to be one of the top Gin Rummy players in the world.
It was Gin Rummy: A Predator's Guide by Michael Sall. It was by far the most expensive book I’ve ever bought, but he signed it for me.
“Good hunting,” I think he wrote.
You Lost $15,000
The book was for advanced players so I never read it. I think it's in my brother’s attic in a box with other books.
At least I hope so; the book cost $300.
Anyway, Pavan and I decided to play Gin Rummy at a rate that, according to him, could cost me $100 as an absolute maximum if I were insanely unlucky.
We played a game, and I was insanely unlucky. There were bonuses on bonuses and the numbers just kept on multiplying.
Imagine your opponent in fantasyland playing Open-Face Chinese and getting to another fantasyland inside the fantasyland.
You know, like in the film Inception.
It looked expensive and I felt the blood leave my face.
Pavan kept on adding the numbers and his face turned pale. That made me really sick. Finally he looked up at me and said:
“You lost 15,000 dollars.”
Breakfast Instantly Tasted Better
In one game? I just looked at him and went to bed.
The next morning I had my breakfast in solitude and silence.
Pavan came by and told me that he had calculated wrong. I had only lost $150.
That made the breakfast instantly taste a lot better.
Probably better than the empty pint of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey Pavan had in his hand.
About Ken Lennaárd:
Sweden's most controversial poker blogger Ken Lennaárd has been around the professional poker circuit for almost 20 years. Among his numerous accomplishments are Swedish Championships both live and online, three WSOP final tables and over $1.5m in live earnings. He's now bringing his singular poker voice to the English world via PokerListings.com. Look for new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Note: Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not represent the views of PokerListings.com.