Poker and Greed – A Little Anecdote

by , May 7, 2009 | 4:36 am

When I first started playing poker it was predominantly in a medium sized club run by a local bookmaker.

The crowd all knew each other pretty well, and there was a decent mix of recreational gamblers, solid amateurs and a few pros. There were also a couple of extremely high risk gamblers, who basically would play any stake available to them for as long as possible.

One of these people was a character I will refer to as ‘Mark’, and his behavior on one particular day can teach us a lot about why and how certain things have to be adhered to in order to win at poker long term.

Mark was a very good poker player at nearly any variant. He was fearless in big bet games, methodical and clever in limit games, and understood high level tournament strategy well. Despite this, he always seemed to be broke, and one particular day of his life shows very well why.

One day when I was sitting in my regular cash game, Mark comes up and starts hassling players to back him in a fifty pound tournament that is being set up. Knowing his skill ability I was more than happy to back him, and five hours later he wins it, netting us around twelve hundred pounds to split. Mark then sits in the 5/10 cash game that I am in, terrorizes the table and runs his stack up to over two thousand.

He then takes this two thousand and sits in the biggest game spread available at the club that night – a 10/20 pot limit Omaha game. After four hours he has over twelve thousand in front of him. I go home at this point and go to sleep. The next day I sit back down in my regular game and soon Mark is through the door, asking me to stake him in the days tournament as he lost his whole stack in a few bad beat pots and was broke again.

The moral of this story to any poker player aiming for long term success is that constantly putting all your bankroll on the line will basically always end in tears. Despite the fact that it is possible to go on massive winning streaks in poker, it is just as easy to go on big losing ones, and you simply have to have enough capital in reserve to whether these losses.

If you have everything on the line all the time in poker you will go broke every day no matter how good you are – it is simply not a game where skill is rewarded every time, and you forget this at your peril.

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