Big Fish = Big Bait - Are You Guilty??
Big Fish = Big Bait
by John Carlisle filed under Strategy on 2008-03-09
[Originally appeared in the March 3, 2008 issue of Poker Player]
Bill is by far the best player at his regular home game. Each Friday he huddles into the basement of a co-worker, almost always outlasting the feeble opposition to come home with a profit. Most of his opponents are the same each week- starry-eyed amateurs who play because of inspiration from the movie Rounders or ESPN's coverage of the World Series of Poker.
The competition that Bill bests every week is not exactly formidable. Bill is a solid player who understands position and pot-odds better than most recreational players. He plays tight-aggressive poker, allowing the others plenty of opportunity to hang themselves by being hyper-aggressive at the most inopportune times. Each week he sits back and pulls in their chips, laughing it off when the other players call him "lucky."
His continued success has started to psychologically impact Bill. His confidence has grown with each win, and he is now ****y. Because it takes little skill to employ the same tactics to beat his usual opponents, he has stagnated in his poker development while his emotions fool him into thinking he is getting better and better. Bill wholeheartedly thinks that he is a remarkable poker player, and is mentally preparing to take a step up into bigger games.
It can be compared to a junior varsity basketball player who spends his time beating up on his 10 year-old brother's buddies on the court. He will dominate kids who are several years his younger and a foot shorter than him. He could use the same moves and put forth the same effort every day, and still win easily. Before long, he will be overly selfassured, and probably hit upon a rude awakening when he finally tries to match-up against the big boys on the varsity team!
Poker veterans love to feast on guys who have Bill's mentality. You see, Bill is by far the biggest fish in his little pond. Because of this, his boosted ego is likely to lead him into poker damnation. He will think that his straight-forward play will lead him to steady profits, just as it always has in his regular home games. Instead, the poker veterans will identify him as a predictable player and immediately target him for attack. Since his style of play has always worked for him in the past, Bill will stubbornly plow forward with his same style. Before long, Bill will watch his poker bankroll shrink as his ego shrinks along with it.
Confidence is a great attribute for any poker player. ****iness, though, can lead to complacency. Don't get fooled into thinking you are a shark just because you are the nastiest fish at your regular home game. You may find that you are actually just a floundering fish when matched up against some real predators.
The big fish from local home games are often the biggest bait in serious poker card rooms. If you can wipe the floor with some of your hapless coworkers at the poker table, don't necessarily reserve a spot on your mantle to mount an upcoming WSOP
bracelet. Poker will find a way to humble all of us, it seems. Just when you start thinking that you are special, you can find your head spinning and your pockets empty!