There’s been a lot of talk recently, sparked by comments made by Joe Hachem in an off-the-cuff interview he did with Bluff. I mention that it was off-the-cuff because everyone has taken his words very seriously, and I think he should be cut a little slack for the fact that this wasn’t a written public statement, but rather a passion-inspired venting.
Daniel Negreanu gave his thoughts on Hachem’s interview, and the public’s response soon after.
The topic up for discussion is, more or less, the way that poker players carry themselves and the effect it has on the game as a whole- a very important discussion to have.
Some of the discussion has gone into specific recent world champions, and that’s something that I’ll leave alone, not only because I don’t view it as particularly important, but also because I am not in touch enough with everything that’s gone on with them to have an informed opinion.
The area I’d like to start with is a theme that’s been brought up before: New School vs. Old School
I think I’m approaching my last couple years where I qualify as a "New School" player, so I’d like to take this opportunity to try and speak as one before it’s too late.
To sum it up: The old school feels that the new school (in general) carries themselves in a way that isn’t good for the games or for the general popularity of poker.
I agree wholeheartedly.
Well, it isn’t really something that can be argued against.
Most "New School" players are talking advanced strategy at the table, not having fun with the recreational players, and playing slowly and silently on TV.
These are all things that intimidate non-professionals and make the game less interesting (to the general public) to watch.
It makes the players feel outclassed, unwelcome, and dumb.
If you're a successful businessman and you go to the poker table to blow off some steam, the last thing you’ll put up with is being made to feel dumb. Putting myself in their shoes, I can’t think anything that would make poker less fun (within reason).
As lame as it may sound, I think that the first thing that needs to stop is the finger pointing and general resentment between the "New" and "Old" school.
Things have been getting better since the start of my career, but there’s still too large a lack of respect given by each generation to the other.
You can’t have a quality relationship unless it’s built on respect. (And love. Let’s all be in love.)
(To be clear: Neither Daniel nor Joe said anything disrespectful or unreasonable to my generation in their recent interviews. I am talking more generally.)
I can't speak as much to the Old School’s thoughts on the new generation. I gather that there’s a lack of respect because of the way we generally carry ourselves at the tables, and a (very understandable) resentment for how it impacts the game.
I think there's probably some lack of respect for how easy we’ve had it (though many from my generation didn’t make it… you just don’t hear about most of them).
I think there’s some resentment over the fact that we’ve been able to improve so quickly with knowledge sharing and coaching and especially with study tools/software.
I think that many of the Old School players realize that a chunk of the New School has surpassed them in "skill" in the big-bet games, and they don’t like it.
I honestly have no idea whether the Old School realizes this or not, but the New School has a huge chip on their shoulder. A lot of them (including me, long ago) find it very frustrating that there are players (who they feel they could wipe the floor with) getting recognition, praise, fanfare, and the respect from the public, while they get none.
I've always felt that there was a certain level of dishonesty coming from those in the spotlight. Some guys on TV talking down to younger guys, claiming to be the best, claiming the kids have no chance against them.
It made us feel like, "Well there are over 30 online guys you can choose from to play 300/600nl online or live with, and you don’t. So obviously you don’t actually believe what you’re saying (which is indirectly about me) to the camera."
That frustration leads to an extra lack of respect for the poker skill of the "Old School," and a desire to "prove" our skill. (By the way, each generation overestimates their edge vs. their counterparts.)
You can tell the New School to “get over it,” but you have to understand that they will never stop wanting their skill to be recognized. So, what you get when you put them on TV and interview them about a hand is them sounding as smart and superior as they can, because it’s (finally) their opportunity to let the public know that they have talent that should be respected.
The only thing that I think Joe got very wrong in his interview is that much of my generation actually loves the game of poker. Almost all of the guys I know personally have a strong passion for the game, and take a lot of pride in it.
I watched poker on TV nonstop while I was starting to play, including every episode of Joe’s Main Event Victory. I looked up to the players I saw, and I dreamt of one day being able to compete on a big stage (In the same way that I dreamt of being in the NFL when I was in middle school).
As soon as I was making over $30/hr from poker, I took out pen and paper and created a "plan" for how much I would play, what I’d earn, and what I’d do with it (Something I’ve since learned is very ineffective due to so much being out of your control).
What was the goal of my plan?
It was to hit a certain number of hours per week (while in school), and make $x/month so that I could spend it on $10k WPT & WSOP Circuit events while still covering my (very modest) living expenses. I figured I could play four a year. I was definitely in it for the glory and the love of the game.
Just this past summer, I came 2nd in the $25k 6-max WSOP event. The difference between 1st and 2nd place was somewhere around 350k. I can’t count the number of times I’ve lost > $350k in a day, and I usually get over it the next day when it happens.
That 2nd place haunted me. I beat myself up daily over a few hands, again and again and again, for at least two months. I still get a twinge of the regret from time to time.
I wanted the bracelet 100 times more than I wanted the money.
I would view winning the Main Event bracelet as an honor and as a responsibility (for me… not for everyone). The day I bust the main event stings each and every year, just like it does for most of my peers.
I really do love the game of poker (for too many reasons to list) and I love the poker world (young and old). I want the game to be respected and to thrive.
I know that I’m far from alone in my generation with how I feel about the game of poker.
What The Old School Needs To Understand
My generation of poker players- the ones who rise to the top out of the hordes of people trying- often fit a specific mold. 90% of us are brainy introverts. Or if you prefer, I’ll let you say it: Nerds.
It's not in our nature to be outgoing and energetic and talkative, and it doesn’t come easy to a lot of us.
When you see a top internet kid sit down at a table and put his headphones in, 5 times out of 10 it’s because he’s uncomfortable, not because he doesn’t care about being there. Another 3 out of that 10 is because the boredom of 30 hands an hour is too much for his ADD.
When he plays slowly, (usually) it’s because he thinks you will get a read on him if he doesn’t.
Most importantly, when he finds another one of “us” and talks advanced strategy (I loathe this too, by the way), it’s because:
a) It’s interesting and there’s someone he can finally talk to, and
b) He has a chip on his shoulder and feels like he needs to prove himself to the table or (especially) to the cameras.
(I don't start conversations like these because I'm sensitive to making other people feel bad, but I also have trouble sometimes denying someone a response when they ask me a strategy question. I guess I could figure out a better way to brush it off.)
A lot of what you're unhappy about is not really the fault of my generation (meaning it's very hard for them to control). That doesn't mean we can’t improve it, though.
I was invited to play on High Stakes Poker for the first time many years ago. I don’t remember how old I was, but I couldn’t have been over 22 or 23.
I'm quiet by nature, but this was, in essence, a long time dream of mine that I never expected to come true. I'd played for high stakes online plenty, and even a tiny bit live, but nothing compared to this.
I didn't get a chance to speak to anyone before filming started. I had a couple friends there and I talked to them. I sat down at the table, and there I was on one of the biggest poker stages in the world, next to a table full of the guys I've watched on TV for years!
They all knew each other, of course, but none of them knew me.
Everyone talked with each other, but very few people said much to me, other than to ask me my screen name. The way I was, it would never even enter my mind to start a conversation with one of these poker celebrities. So, I kept quiet, of course.
Did I make good TV? No, I made terrible TV.
But to expect anything different of me in that situation (or the next generation of people like me) or to resent me for it, is almost ridiculous.
Being the Grown-Up
Is it the responsibility of the Old School to hold our hands and make things easier and more relaxed for us while we’re playing for hundreds of thousands of dollars?
Of course not.
But if they don’t, they can’t expect that shy intimidated kid who’s never been in the spotlight to do anything but sit there and try to play his best poker and leave.
I believe that if the Old School guys take pride in the game and want TV poker to continue to be interesting, they need to realize that they are the ones who are actually equipped to help.
Most of the Old School guys are especially personable. Using charm to entertain and hustle (I mean this in the most non-derogatory sense of the word) to continue to play in great games is a big element of live poker. It helped a lot of them survive and thrive.
They went through a different selection process where most of the "fittest" have the quality of being outgoing and likable. This is even truer because a lot of the guys who got more TV time and better sponsorship deals are the ones who are the absolute best at entertaining the table and the public.
So, in the sense that this sort of thing comes very easy for the Old School guys, I do view it as a responsibility of theirs to make an effort to put the kids at ease for the sake of a better table environment, and especially for the sake of a better TV table environment (if they care about the sport above everything else, as some claim to).
(That is, if you think the kids need to talk… there were several TV poker players 10 years ago who didn’t speak and still intrigued audiences… Ivey, Seidel, etc)
I'd have felt 20 times better on HSP if I had a half hour before filming to hang out with the guys at the table- for them to ask me where I'm from, what my parents do, what kinds of movies I like.
I also could have benefited from some Old School wisdom. Playing high stakes on TV isn't about the EV from the poker game. It was my first huge opportunity to build a brand for myself. However, I was young and naïve and I thought that I could put my best foot forward (and make the most money) by playing my best poker (which happened to be a tight game when playing at a loose, eight handed table).
Genius does not equal wisdom. (Something the New School needs to get better at is respecting the wisdom and experience of the Old School. Very smart kids with no experience tend to think they know much more than they do.)
The truth is, often times the Old School guys don’t want New School kids at their table (for EV and table vibe reasons), and I think that’s a big part of why they don’t make more of an effort.
Just like you'll see a few internet kids talking strategy or about other poker news/gossip, leaving the casual players completely out of the conversation, the outgoing Old School will usually talk amongst themselves and to the recreational players, but not to the internet kids.
Some Old School guys have always done a great job of putting everyone (shy kids included) at ease. When I played my first live poker tournament, way back when I was 21, I was lucky enough to spend all of Day 2 at the table with Daniel, who made the experience more comfortable. He’s as good as it gets in making the whole table enjoy themselves, and sets an excellent example for the rest of us.
The point I'm trying to get across here (in 3000+ words, apparently) is that you Old School guys want the New School to do something that they just aren’t capable of doing on their own, at least until they’re older, and you’re resenting them for it.
I'm 29 now. I'm extremely comfortable at a live poker table. I know most of the Old School and I'm friendly with much of the poker world. If HSP ran today, I'd be as comfortable and talkative as at least half the table. Unfortunately I didn’t get comfortable in the poker world or learn my lesson early enough.
Let’s Work Towards Some Kind of Conclusion, Phil
How can we try to fix the problems?
The first step, as I said earlier, is that there needs to be less resentment and more respect between the two generations. We can't work cooperatively for the good of the game if we don’t like each other.
Take any 21 year-old Physics major today and he’ll likely have a better understanding of Physics than Isaac Newton. Should that 21 year-old get more respect for his Physics "abilities" than Newton does? (not the perfect analogy, but good enough to make my point)
You've got a much better technical understanding of NL and PLO than the Old School.
If I dropped you into the poker world 20+ years ago, you wouldn’t have learned 1/10th as quickly as you did today. There’s a very good chance that you wouldn’t have been able to make a living off of the game and that you would have quit by now.
The pros that have survived in poker for over 20 years deserve a ton of respect for it. They are the best of the best from their generation.
If you can beat them at HU NL Hold’em- Good for you!
We've had a ridiculous advantage entering poker when we did. The foundation was already built (by the Old School) and we added to it, with a big helping hand from technology. The fact that many of them are still able to compete at a high level is a testament to their intelligence and poker prowess.
Five years ago, I was one of the top HUNL players in the world. You can take any excellent $5/$10nl regular from today, put him in a time machine, and he’d have beaten 2009 Phil (at least for a while). Does that mean I get no respect for being at top of the HUNL games back then?
I'm not saying that you shouldn’t be proud about being a strong poker player and surviving in the extremely competitive online and/or live poker world. You should be. You just shouldn’t view yourself as superior to someone just because you are better than him at a specific game - especially if you had a massive educational advantage.
The Old School helped build the game into what you excitedly watched on TV, and what you’re now making a living off of. Respect them.
Oh, and please, please stop talking strategy at the table!
Last year, I visited my sister in college. I was 28, she was 19. I couldn't get over how young everyone was! I thought I was a grown-up at 19, but I was looking at these kids thinking, "they're just babies."
I have no idea how you can be 35+ and look at that quiet 22 year-old at your table and not think to yourself, "he’s just a kid."
You're annoyed with him because he isn’t acting the way you want him to. Cut the kid some slack! For the most part, it’s not his fault. No one taught him to entertain the table- he never had to.
On top of the lack of experience, the New School kids just aren’t wired well to do what you guys are so good at. They’re a different kind of breed.
I get that a lot of you don’t like that we are even here. Poker is becoming more and more technical a game, and is getting nearer and nearer to being "solved" (still not close though).
I'm "New School" and I don’t even like it! Poker is more fun when it’s about reading people, figuring out what their betting lines mean, trying to stay a step ahead psychologically. (Many of you Old School guys aren’t as familiar with my playing and teaching style, but the young guys will tell you that my game is built on psychology and logic much more than it is on any advanced mathematics and study).
The fact of the matter is, there’s a lot of money in poker, and people will keep getting better and studying harder. That means more technical study, and it means the next generation will be significantly tougher to beat.
It's just how it is, and it’s not going to go back no matter how much you want it to. Most importantly, it’s not some nice, sweet 22 year-old kid's fault!
On top of that, you have to respect the next generation’s skill (people do much more than they did six years ago). It’s the lack of respect and recognition that makes them want to prove themselves even more, leading them to spew strategy talk whenever they get the chance.
Poker is a game full of big egos, and I think it’s going to take a lot of humility to coexist and cooperate towards a better game for all of us.
Unfortunately for you Old School guys… you’re the grown-ups here. That means you need to be the ones extending the olive branch, being humble, and making the kids feel welcome. It’s then up to the kids to follow suit.
TV, Rules, and The Powers That Be
The next step, after some mutual understanding, is looking at the way the game is played and the way it’s televised. These are things that I wouldn’t know where to begin to make changes, just little ol’ me.
I hope I can start a discussion and be included in the discussions with players and non-players who have some say over things, as a (kinda old) voice for my generation.
So, the issues:
Hachem said that poker on TV is headed in a bad direction-
He doesn’t like how many of the kids are playing slowly and silently. He thinks that it’s boring TV. (Shot Clock rule!)
He thinks that the masses don’t care about advanced strategy.
I (mostly) agree.
The challenge is balancing entertainment and honesty.
If you keep the young geniuses off TV, and lead the audience to believe they are seeing all of the best of the best, you're lying to the public, and you’re not being fair to the kids. The resentment between generations will grow.
Still, a table full of quiet kids is no good. So what are we to do?
I don’t have the answer, but I hope we can brainstorm together to come up with it.
They've tried to add some more advanced strategy to poker broadcasts, probably in an attempt to make the kid geniuses more interesting.
An audience likes a genius. They like to see spectacular talent. However, they want to see genius that they understand.
When the TV detective explains how he solved a case, the audience is excited by the detective’s genius, yet they can follow along with everything he says and not feel stupid.
(I can speak on the topic as an audience member, too. Back when I started watching poker before I played, Dutch Boyd was all-in and said something about he or the other guy having 9 outs. I was like, "wow, this guy is smart. He’s the brainy one at the table. I like him!")
I think that showing off a little bit of in depth thinking is a good thing, but it needs to be done carefully. Explaining more advanced things to beginners in a way that they can follow isn’t easy. If the guys producing the shows have it as a goal, they can curb the way we do interviews, as players.
I've been in interviews or "confessional" type settings on poker TV where I was to discuss strategy. I always asked how advanced I should be. Personally, I'm very good at speaking to beginners about advanced concepts, but each time I asked I was told to go advanced.
Now, it's been about 3 years since I was on a TV cash game, due to shows not being filmed as often anymore. I'd probably disregard those instructions now and speak to the level of the audience, but I didn’t know well enough to do that back then.
I think the keys to making the kids more interesting are-
1) Make them comfortable
Let the table of players get together and have lunch before filming. Old School- talk to the kids. Give them your lecture on how we're here for the good of the game and for entertainment. Explain why the opportunity is big for them, and how it has nothing to do with the cash they may or may not win at the table.
2) More personal interest stories on broadcasts
How in depth we wanna get with the stories, I don't know.
If you really want to try- Film the kids at their houses. Interview their families or friends. Spend a lot of time interviewing the kid, and you’ll get some good stuff out of him.
The next generation isn’t as outgoing or immediately entertaining, but they have personalities… many of them have very interesting ones. You just have to know them- or in the case of a broadcast, give them the chance to open up.
I understand that the "turned $50 into $1 million" story is an old one, but there are more stories there. I don’t remember hearing stories about how the Old School guys rose up through the stakes to get where they are. The stories about them on TV were more personal, as should the stories about the young kids be.
The next problem is keeping entertaining people on TV while making things somewhat equal opportunity.
Off the top of my head-
-Pokerstars could run a series of online tournaments (200+ events). Then have a live high buy-in ($50k+) televised “playoffs” or final tournament where the stats from the "regular season" are shown (audiences like ways to keep score), and the top 8-40 players in points qualify for the playoffs (if they want to play). 50% rake from all the online tournaments is added to the prize pool.
You could make it a hybrid and have half the field of the tournament be invite only, and the other half qualify via online tourneys. (Money added to the prize pool is extra important in this case because many of the entertaining faces might not want to buy-in against a field this tough without sponsorship money available)
-Some element of audience or player voting to incentivize and reward likability. 3 table (6 handed) shootout. Top 3 winners advance, along with the other 3 the audience votes in.
I don’t think I’ve hit it out of the park with those ideas, but I just want to explain how we should all be openly discussing things to improve the game, preferably on an organized board of representatives from different areas of the game (let us be a part of important decisions).
If only a select few like-minded people have influence, they’re often going to push their own agenda.
The point is, the young generation can and should be part of a very entertaining TV broadcast (and potentially even part of entertaining live tables) if we make an effort.
The New School is full of intelligent, quirky, kind, honest, likable kids who have integrity, good sportsmanship, crazy intelligence, and lead lives that their peers dream of. Many of them are fun, funny guys who could easily entertain an audience if given a real chance (not one intimidating, short-lived opportunity).
There really is potential here, guys.
Plus, haven’t you heard? Nerds are in style.
Agreeing with Negreanu on this one, though.
Edit: What I meant - while it is understandable how it differs from one school to other one - the old school guys are in the business longer period of time, therefore, they know what consumers pretty much are likely to buy. If it is fun at the tables - well, new school will need to take some acting classes as well.
That was an excellent article! Thanks phil
Your mind is pure gold , poker and otherwise, and as always you are able to dissect all aspects of a subject, yet, what i admire most is your heart and human approach with love of a game players and people, so you do stand out as a role model i hope other will look upon, younger and hopefully older as well
This was a great read, thanks for posting it, Phil.
I made the same mistake of being too serious and quiet when I started playing live at a friend's home game. I crushed them (almost) every time, but I don't get invited anymore because they don't think playing with me is fun.
At the end of the day, it's the amateurs that pay the poker pro's bills, and we all need to make it fun for them if we want the game to survive.
People will start doing -ev things for the sake of the games as soon as you shut down run it once ;) - tragedy of the commons
Just because your method is politically correct that doesn't make it correct
Very well written, Phil! :)
A great read~
As everything you write, it is a GREAT essay Phil.
I think the most important thing to achieve is to try finding a balance in the live poker world between both New School and Old School people.
All in all, it is excellent to have the chance to read this types of things from a New School than nowadays is also a Live Pro.
Grettins from Argentina.
Great post! :)
I may see this a bit different as a 44 year old who has play poker for a living the past 6 years. I am old guy for a "new school" player(played tons of online poker). I just don't see the need for an artificial distinction between new/old school. I also don't really care too much about what happens with MTTs on TV these days except to the extent that it brings attention to the game in a positive way.
I am surprised to say this but DN is 100% right. No matter what you think about his poker game he understands marketing better than any other poker player. While I like to hear detailed analysis by smart guys most recreational players don't and it just make poker sound confusing, intimidating, and boring to the average joe.
This is such a great post Phil.
The entire poker community is lucky to have you.
Phil, you make some good points. There's a lot to say on how poker should be promoted and which obvious mistakes the operators, primarily Pokerstars are making, too much to include in this thread.
On the old school vs new school debate it seems remarkably simple - the old school were primarily gamblers, with some thinking players who were there to make a living. In the new school the balance is reversed and the competition makes it much harder for the gamblers to survive long enough to make a mark.
In both schools there are egomaniac self-promoters (who some call "characters"), pleasant people who are "good for the game", and a majority of people who would like to play poker and have fun - some of them are winners, most aren't.
Whether you are a misogynist, a bigot, a blowhard, an entertainer or an all round good guy is not decided by whether you are old school or new school but by your character.
Kind of the post you expect to come from Phil, but nothing earth-shattering....but within it is a kernel of truth that is under-appreciated within the discussion of New VS. Old School- the widely divergent modes of "coming up" within the poker ranks between the old and new schools and how that relates to the type of person who excelled in the different eras. Because both New and Old school poker demanded different things of those who were learning the game, you got very different types of people excelling at the game.
The New school approach was/is essentially academic. You play a bit, "study", watch vids, do your "homework", and so on and so forth. Your play online can be at such low stakes that the money often times (for a set which is predominantly middle/upper middle class) is/was trivial if lost. Many did this while still under the umbrella of parental/governmental(read FAFSA) support with almost limitless free time and very limited bills to pay.
The old school had to learn by trial and error, utilizing observational skills, pattern recognition, etc. You jumped right in and played decently high stakes. You watched those who won and tried to dissect the whys of winning. You watch those who lose and vice versa. You thought about poker away from the table...you formulated your own idea of "optimal" play or at the very least optimal adjustments against different types of players. This experiential mode of learning the game demanded different skills than the academic mode...In fact the old school mode of learning the game probably demanded more-not less- raw I.Q. than the new school one bc it involved original thought much more expansively as opposed to the sort of hand fed approach many good players learn today.
Also, bc many old school players came up broke or working class (see Ivey, Negreanu, Antonius) the stakes even at relatively low limits live were very meaningful. It takes heart to watch your last dollar raked in by a fish and come back for more....at the very least, more heart than sitting in a dorm room at Brown.....well, you get the picture.
To me the old school characters are just more compelling based heavily on the type of people they are...I simply don't find moderately intelligent(Phil is a notable exception), nerdy, socially awkward, mostly upper middle class, mostly white/Azn, male 20-27 yr olds that interesting. They just aren't that compelling to watch or root for, and I am not sure any amount of encouragement from someone like Hachem, DNegs or Sexton is going to fundamentally address likability for me as a viewer.
Great post. Especially the part about whether or not advanced strategy talk should be part of the TV broadcast or not. When I first started watching poker on TV my favourite part was the players explaining their thought process in a hand, and I assume that is the case for almost anyone who became a longterm "fan" of poker, from watching it on TV.
When advanced poker strategy (if it is not too advanced) is explained well, I think it leaves recreational players thinking "I have never thought about it that way, that makes perfect sense" rather than "what is he/she talking about" (Like Phil said it is similar to a TV detective solving a mystery). And it makes it easier and more interesting for the viewer to follow the game, and makes it more likely he will start playing the game.
Of course having characters in the game is good for TV. But I think JH and DN way overvalue the importance of it. The people that only watch because someone is playing with a crocodile on is head, or because someone is likely to blowup etc. but does not care about any strategy is never going to be a longterm fan of poker on TV, or start playing the game themselves. It would be like trying to encourage more fighting in hockey, and putting all the focus on that, and leave out all the strategy talkDialingUP420
Have you ever watched Tony G? "Bring me more Russians!" Poker broadcasts these days are well above the head of anyone who doesn't take poker somewhat seriously a lot of the time. Not to mention it does even more to shortcut new players learning process. TV poker should be to draw people in, not educate them. I think about it like a "whodunit". Give the TV crown enough info to want to grasp for more but not enough to where they don't have to go out and solve the puzzle themselves.
If you for one moment think having compelling characters/character with compelling stories isn't all that important, I would refer you to the current coverage of the olympics. There is a reason the coverage is like 10-20% human interest pieces....and it isn't accidental. Outside the hardcore poker strat set **hand goes up** it is the characters which often times which are going to reel in new fans/fish.
2003's version of poker had a chunky, shaky accountant with tonnes of gamble...
A middle eastern shark with an unlit cigarette menacingly dangling from his lips....
A hip hop savant cutting through the fields in BB jerseys....
A loud mouthed Canuck with obnoxious hair who couldn't shut up about what you were holding....
An oversized Badger Brat with and ego bigger Lake Superior...
A legendary cowboy gambler who had seen it all and was still playing the biggest games in his 60s....
A Khmer prince who seemed more intent on swilling his next Michelob than playing "solid" poker....
A big mouthed LA/Vegas Jew who always seemed down on his luck and never without a stake to play in some of the world's largest games/ tournaments...
Those are/were compelling characters....
Mickey Petersen and his penpal GF he will never bang with bad hipster music in the background on a Firpo vid for P* is miles behind.
GameTheoryWho is more entertaining to watch:
Or a guy that balances his I-need-to-tank-for-several-minutes-over-this-decision range every hand?Piper420
I love to watch Sammy Farha! He is frickin awesome!Brock Thomson
Yeah, watching Doc play is absolutely brutal.mason barrell
Doc is literally my least favorite player to watch. Everything about him tilts me, especially the way he puts his chips in so slow and deliberate.MagicNinjaGod i love Farha that season of HSP was amazing with him and Gold
I agree that having characters on TV is important (especially human interest stories are a good idea, so we can an idea about who the people are). I just don´t think that it is all that matters, which Hachem and DN seem to think(I think it is around 30-40%). And I don´t think strategy talk is destructive (if its done right) which Hachem and DN seem to think. Especially for the people who potentially are going to develop an interest in poker.
NBC heads-up is a good example of this. They invite the 64 players that they think will make the best TV(which I dont have a problem with). They have relatively shallow stacks and fast blind structure, and almost no strategy talk. I can't imagine people who are new to poker, or semi pros and pros, enjoying that show. Imagine how much better that show would be for everyone if the structure was better and they had 3 or 4 segments where both the players talked about what they where thinking during interesing hands
FTR, strat talk is fine IMHO.....as long as it is accessible. This is precisely what Galfond said as well.
Not to be an ass, but you kinda just backtracked off of what you (bui) originally said- people overestimate the importance of characters in the game for T.V.
Now you are saying they are important....
I think DN and the like are a lot more savvy vis a vis T.V. and pushing poker than some of the younger generation understand or will ever acknowledge. Poker is not chess, nor do we want it to become chess. 7k people do not fly to a tropical locale to pay five figures to play in a chess donkament. As much as I enjoyed watching the 60 minutes piece on Magnus Carlsson I would take Phil Ivey going from telemarketer to craps degen legend/Poker god anytime.DialingUP420
Everything about Phil Ivey is the nuts. When I saw his ESPN piece a few years back I had just started playing and seeing this seemingly average cool as dude ball it up in a private jet definitely got me thinking it was something I could attain. Still waiting on that jet though...
I said characters are good for TV (in my first post), but that DN and JH overvalue the importance of it, because they seem to think it is everything. Maybe I understated the importance a bit, trying to make a point :)
Phil...where's your bracelet? You don't have one, and most of you don't.This post is the entire PROBLEM with the new school players. How many times did I read in this post "they don't want new school players to sit at there table because of EV", or "surpassed them in skill". Thats a joke. Online with 15 tables going at once, new school IS better. But live...at 30 hands an hour, BRING IT ON. Phil....NEW SCHOOL IS NOT NOT BETTER (at live). When guys like you continue to say how much better they are...thats the problem right there (cause you are not). If so...why aren't they winning bracelets 10/1 compared to the old school players? They're not. What about at the tables in vegas? Why aren't they busting old school players bankrolls at an astounding rate? They're not. Your post just pissed them off more. So..we'll keep winning bracelets, getting sponsorship deals, owning young punks at the live table, meeting people, getting laid, while "new school" players play 20 tables at a time...in there bed rooms...alone..with porn in the back ground, snorting about how much better at poker they are than old school players. While they watch old school players get invited to TV shows and sign autographs.GameTheory
Phil...where's your bracelet? You don't have oneAndre Bilenky
I guess that when the wsop main event was a 18man sit and go, was quite easier to capture a bracelet.bui niclassen
The last six WSOP are from the "new school".mForceXgen
Good point about hand rate tho. While you can gain as much math edge as you can - in live it just won't work as online you lose a hand - you know you will come on top after 100 more of similar hands. While in live - you lose a hand and you are DONE. It's the end, you are out. While new school relays on aggressive game play and mathematics - old school makes it all about psychology, facial and movement readings, of course there are maths included too, but let's be honest - math only is too hard for people to digest.
It is the same as talking about space. While most of people find stars, planets and other stuff interesting - start talking about numbers only and they will lose interest just like that - in one click. Make it about photos, interesting facts and discoveries, how they were made, why sky is so beatuiful - you got yourself and auditory!
That's the whole point. People need and want show. It is like NBA, NHL, NFL etc. Do people go to watch all the practices 2-3 times per day? Do they want to know strategies behind game play? Not really, they want to see a beautiful play, that they can enjoy! Beautiful plays, sick combinations - people doesn't care how team got there. They want the show and they will pay for it.
I agree Poker on TV should be way more entertaining, i dont like the commentary nowadays either. Mostly from the EPT's and stuff they talk sooo much about "range" and use strat terms that the recreatonal or TV watcher wont understand and also dont care about.
They should get the Gabe Kaplans back and more Poker fun to watch again, i havvnt watched poker on TV for years mostly because of how non entertaining it is to me.Andre Bilenky
personally, i think the mix its perfect. l really dig when vanessa selbst, ike haxton (game theory) , jason koon etc... come along to do live commentary with the charisma of good hosts that are not necessarily poker geeks.RootBeerGuy
True thats awesome and fine, but when the commentators talk about strat and use strat terms i switch the channel...stillsGabe Kaplan, best high stakes poker comentator to date!
ACK!!!! So much for my Bing search. I guess Google IS better than Bing. Kinda of like old school vs. new school. Get it? Uuuhhh...sigh. Congrats on the bracket Phil OK, heads up for Rolz against Galfond? YOU BET! MY ROLL FOR HIS?! HELL YES! I'M getting like 50 to 1! That being said, I didn't mean for my post to sound so venomous. I think Galfond is great for poker, and truly one of the best minds in the game. I was speaking more in the terms of old school VS. new school. Phil is definitely part of the new school. At 39, I'm old school. Once again..sigh. Phil's post shows the problem. They truly think they are better, even though the results aren't there to back that statement up. No no, some old school players don't play online. Why, because thats not were there edge is! There is something to be said for endurance. A 12 hour live session, and still being able to laugh...talk...AND PULL information out of people is a talent within itself. Old school doesn't like to talk advanced strategy? Well new school downplays reading ability at the table because they are introverts and can't do it. If new school would admit that old school , are dangerous players themselves ,that would go a long way for mutual respect. I have to add something here. Riess=NOT NEW SCHOOL. You guys do know Galfond isn't just talking about age right? Two people have brought up main event winners to try and prove there point. Not even JMAN28 himself would have tried to use that. You do know to win the main event is all about luck ...don't you? THERE'S 8,000 PEOPLE! If you don't believe that its luck...JUST ASK ANY NEW SCHOOL PLAYER.Mushmellow
hehe i was just playin' shane :PPhil Galfond
If you're here to argue about whether New School or Old School players are better, you've missed the point of my post.
was just about to say something rude
What is truly killing the game is the lack of a free market in online poker. The 2003 boom started as a direct result of satellite qualifiers on POKERSTARS! Take away online poker, you take away the Moneymaker story, at least any chance of it ever repeating itself. We are so busy blaming each other for poker's decline we forget who the real culprits are: our own silly government.DialingUP420
Online poker directly correlates with the success of live poker. The game isn't growing as much because the country where it is most popular in the world essentially has no "legit" way to play online and discover how great the game is. Someone who has never played a hand of poker isn't going to watch a TV program and then search out a shady offshore gambling site they think is illegal and go through the hoops to get money on.
Great post, I must say this isn't only true in poker the "new school" or the younger generation all shite!!
Poker players needs to understand that our job is to entertain casual players.
Bring back the Machismo in poker, at the end of the day THIS (image of being cool) is what brings fish to tables. No whale wants to loose to some pencilneck nerd with the aura of Steve urkel, its just too much to take for their ego. They rather loose to someone cool like Doyle, lol.
On the serious note, couple days ago I saw this TV hand which concludes what Old school guys are trying to tell us. Check it out. Pay attention to the difference in Doyles attitude to the fish in contrast to regs.
Whatever happened to being a true hustler? Talking like a fish, acting like a fish, pretending to drink. Its like that Movie Color of Money with Paul Newman. Now those were hustlers playing for cash. Everyone now a days talks strategy and has a blank stupid look on their face in the live games, it is really bad for the game. Although these new school kids with their egos is something that should be welcomed because at the end of the day it really is who is rolled and who isnt that loses in the long run.DirtyD
That's one way to go, but if you're not a great actor, it's going to come off as scummy and and manipulative. A lot of the guys I see who think they're hustling are actually just making everyone at the table really uncomfortable. I also believe how you conduct yourself at the poker tables means just as much as how you carry yourself in any other area of life. Being at the table isn't a free pass to be obnoxious or dishonest (bluffs aren't lies by the way, they're moves in a game). Speaking for myself, I rarely talk strategy at the table, I prefer to engage people in other topics, but I don't misrepresent who I am. If someone asks I'll tell them I'm a pro. In my experience this doesn't turn people off. Often, it makes them want to play with me more. A lot of the guys I play with are successful businessmen who play poker for the challenge of trying to outsmart a tough opponent.HOTSANDWICH
I feel ya, hustling just used to be more of an art to make the weak player feel like he has a chance. Its all the same kids that take 4 minutes for each decision and have that stupid look on their face. Ivey never did that gay stone face look, hes a true hustler.
I think if Phil and I ever become friends, "Where's your bracelet, Phil? You don't have one" will be a line I use a lot.
Wow congratz Phil!
The only thing that makes me sick about our generation is seeing how the bumhunting is going nowadays, thats f. sick
Didn't read everything, but just want to say that a lot of people who get good at internet poker are introverted by nature, so it's not that easy for them to talk a lot of crap at the table and it doesn't help them either when they play so much, that they don't have any hobbies to talk about either.
I am sure Negreanu can tell us about the 'old school' philosophies of theft (Lindgren); drunken abuse (Scotty M); general abuse (Phil H) and winning appalling (Mike M and Tony G do come to mind)....I haven't watched DN's piece as I was so offended by his defence of Lindgren that I just refuse to (much the same as Forrest Gump/Vote Bob Dole so offended me I refuse to watch any film with Hank's in it)..
I think Doc Sands is ridiculous in how long he takes......but he does at least seem to be honest which is a little more than we can say for some...Chael Sonnen
I did not see the video either, and I don't know anything about lindrens theft, but I will say that many online players have been caught doing something unethical, or forbidden.
Jungleman, Brian Hastings, Brian Townsend, Justin Bonomo etc. have all done stuff that was very controversial, or straight up cheating.
And in case either Brian reads this, I do not know either of you, nor know exactly what happened during the Isildur HUPLO days, so I'm not personally accusing anyone. Just going by what I've read.
Awesome post Phil. Thanks for taking out the time to type all this. Greatly appreciated. :)
Props for taking the time to write this, Phil. I mostly agree with you except for one thing.
I don't think new school necessarily has far superior poker skills than the old one at live poker. Yes, we might have played 10x more hands lifetime by massive multi-tabling, and could have improved way faster thanks to all the materials out there already, but few of us will have played as many live hands as those old school players. And not all skills from online poker directly transfer to live poker, as they are two different games, just like 6max and HU are different games.
I am not trying to belittle our generation (obviously, I'm new school too) merely for the lack of live poker experience, there are spots where old schoolers are making tons of mistake, sometimes without even realising it. But I gotta admit that there are certain aspects of live poker that will come as very "natural" to the seasoned old school players, while confusing and bothering us for days and days to come. You can chalk it up to math players vs feel players or whatever, but point is, sometimes they are just better than us. And this skill discrepancy mostly comes from tons of (or lack thereof) live poker experience. This is what I think most of us young guns tend to underestimate, and I genuinely think we should give more respect to the old school, not only for the reasons you have mentioned, but also for some skillsets that they possess and we don't.
Also, it took me a while to figure this out, but not everyone at the poker table (whether it be live or online) is there ONLY to make money. I mean, nobody wants to lose money, but some of them just won't care if they win or lose 3 BI as long as they are having a good time. It's just a matter of priority. In my humble opinion, making sure these players are having a good time at the table is just as important as making good, +EV poker decisions ourselves (actually, the former is also a poker decision too, in a broader sense).
And like you said, this is something that old school tends to do better than us. It's just the way we are. Every time I go to my local casino and sit at 2/5 table or something, I am surprised at how few of us young schoolers even try to get some conversation going on, while some 40-50 year old guys in cowboy hats are always talking about football, their trips to Vegas, telling jokes, asking me some personal questions, etc. I wouldn't go into much details, but it's obvious that one is more welcoming than another, and "good for the game."
One thing I can't agree more with you: please, please don't talk poker strategy at the tables, guys! I sometimes wanna punch these fishtank tappers in their face :(
No no, I think your missing the point Galfond. In your post, it kept bleeding through, no matter how much you tried to be fair, that you (as a new school player), think that new school players ARE better than old school players. Your post had a lot to do with, the lack of respect both sides show each other. Well....that IS the problem. Its not that the young guys have had it easier. Its not that they aren't good ambassadors for the game, we don't care. Its the fact that they sit down and claim to be better (the truth is in a lot of ways they are, but not every way) than the players that have came before them. Lets be honest, most claim they would DESTROY the old guard (so much for respect). Come on Phil, admit it, you think most new school players are way better. This is what agitates the old school guys. I'm not arguing who is better, I'm just commenting on what the problem is. Like you said in your post, young guys look for that opportunity to "show" everyone how good they are, while talking strategy during an interview or what not. Old school guys want the same respect. Once again, my a post wasn't about who is better, but an opinion of why there is such a lack of respect.DialingUP420
It is very obvious that "new school" players are far better at the mechanics of poker. You have 22 year old kids who have played 10X as many hands as 45 year old "pros". Obviously more poker experience means more poker ability. Having a better poker skill set doesn't directly translate to being a better live player. You can be the best poker player in the world (online), but if you blink twice every time you bluff you're going to get destroyed.
Live players are better at interacting with people (which is half the game live) and online players are better at making fundamentally sound poker decisions. How can you argue that? It's extremely obvious. The differences in skill set tend to offset each other though quite a bit. The best players these days aren't live or online players, they are **poker** players. It's all one in the same.
Great article! I have only been playing poker since 2010 and use training sites like this one and watch videos daily. I discuss hands in forums and online via Skype.
This all is to immuring on my skill at poker. For me this is to stay. Up with the old school players that have been playing for years.
I am one of those kids that sits with headphones on and observe and watch and not really get involved in table talk for most of it is to gain information. I guess I could use it in my favor as they will see me as a newbie and haven't played very long. Little do they know that I have studied up and daily 6 table games at home and have seen a veal load of hands and board texture and study study.
At the same time poker shouldn't all be about strategy. It is supposed to be fun and a social game. I see lots of guys and regs that know each other and are buddies on and off the felt. It makes the gam
Just saw this. Outstanding post, Phil! You are the man.Phil Galfond
No you are.
I think everyone's getting the arrow of causation wrong, or at least a little mixed up. I don't think online players are introverts, I think playing 40 hours a week of online poker makes people way more introverted.
When I'm grinding online for 10 hours straight and I go to order a sandwich, I sound like a mental patient. There's so much buzzing around in my head that my social skills are all herky-jerky and I come off like a weirdo. Ok, I'm exaggerating a little for affect, but still.
If I just wake up in the morning and have a coffee and read the paper and I'm not thinking about triple range merging, I act like a normal human being.
Ditto when I play live poker. The first week or so I'm sitting around the poker table with actual humans I'm playing as if it's an online poker game. After awhile though, that wears off, and I just talk and have a good time like everyone else. I don't see anything contradictory between being a pro and having a good time at the table, after all, gambling is fun and it's even more fun when you're +EV.Mushmellow
When I'm grinding online for 10 hours straight and I go to order a sandwich, I sound like a mental patient. There's so much buzzing around in my head that my social skills are all herky-jerky and I come off like a weirdo. Ok, I'm exaggerating a little for effect, but still.
I get this too! :DDialingUP420
Completely agree. I was the most out going person in the world until I started playing OLP. I still am, but not nearly as much.
Daniel started a discussion on 2+2 based on this discussion and this thread by Phil:
It’s been quite a while since I have posted on here, but it’s time to let bygones be bygones and move forward. I’m not sure that I will be a regular poster on here, I never really have been, but if there is something I feel the need to chime in on, I’ll do so.
There has been a lot of talk recently about the state of poker, sparked by Joe Hachem’s comments, and I think it’s great to have a healthy discussion on where we are at and what we can do collectively to help promote the game we all love. If you haven’t read Phil Galfond’s blog yet, please do, it’s extremely well written and right on point. He does a great job of illustrating the strengths and weaknesses of the old school and the new school.
It all got me to thinking about what is my vision for a poker world that works? Not to say that it doesn’t right now, but what is my vision for a poker world that works. It goes something like this:
My vision for a poker world that works is one where the professionals are aligned in their goals to work together to make sure we aren’t just taking, but also giving back for the greater good. A world where amateurs look forward to sitting at a table with the pros to both satisfy their competitive spirit as well as be entertained. A world that they feel comfortable and encouraged to join without fear of humiliation or embarrassment. A world where the game is fun first and a competitive endeavor second. A world where players think about whats best for everyone first, understanding that in the end they will benefit from that as well.
why not here? we aint contagious :S
like on the copy paste tho if can't have discussion hereDialingUP420
"Less is more my ***** there's plenty of us."
Fantastic post, Phil. I feel very blessed to have spent a lot of my beginning days live. Sure, I didn't improve as fast as I could have, but when I finally did start logging tons of hands online I was ready to take that skill to the casino without being off putting. There is a big fundamental difference between starting live and starting online. I got to watch the older, wiser players and how they acted towards the fish (which I was at the time). They never berated me, never made fun of me, and never broke down my plays to try to show me how bad I was. I didn't realize this at the time, but I quickly picked up on how to manipulate a table full of personalities and to create my own action without making people mad.
Most of my friends who started online acted like complete fools their first few times in a casino. Chants of "ship itttttttttt", "You fing donkey, how can you call my 4bet shove with that trash?", and random strategy being thrown around like the local sports scores. The tables they were at were always less profitable than my tables and a lot less fun. Having the ability to chat up a 65 year old lady makes her feel a lot better about losing her 401K pay outs to you.
There is no need to educate the fish, berate the fish, or make the fish feel like lessor players. You wouldn't call someone a fing moron for buying some overpriced TV if you worked at Best Buy. Happy customers having fun spend more money no matter what the situation is. Other players are just that, customers. There is nothing better than a table happily calling you down with 3rd pair over and over and laughing it up with you afterwards.
Thanks Phil, this all sounds good.
What's coming to my mind initially is that when poker strategy is talked about, it's usually "all about the cards". A good play is a good play based on betting strategy.
And sure, that's a big part of poker.
But what if we started talking about strategy that includes the psychological aspects? Talk about how important it is to both not give off accurate information, and talk about what can be done in certain spots if/when someone gives off info about the strength of their hand?
If people watching realized how important AND difficult it can be to be completely still to not give away information, maybe we can change the way people view those who are doing it?
As you've mentioned Phil, the "new breed" of players are different. Talking about how cool it is that someone can be perfectly still and not give off anything might just appeal to this new breed of players.
Without explicitly saying it, the people at home watching might not realize how difficult and important that can be.
So I guess my thoughts boil down to - what if we change the focus of what's talked about? Would that help "welcome in" the new school?mike
"So I guess my thoughts boil down to - what if we change the focus of what's talked about? Would that help "welcome in" the new school?"
Yes it would but who cares about welcoming the "new school" or placating the "old school" for that matter. Poker needs more recreational appeal not more sharks. We don't need people at home to appreciate poker skill(betting strategy or being read less...) we need people watching to think poker is cool, fun, and exciting enough to want to pick up the game.Michael Dolle
If what I'm saying appeals to the new generation of kids, then that's exactly how you attract more recreational players.
The concern is that the new rec players will be better than some pros... but that's going to always be a part of the evolution of poker.
Maybe Rounders 2 will make poker cool again :)
Poker needs more of these stories, and they should be marketed way better. We need a couple of Maratiks, Chris moneymakers, and whomever the next 'lucksack' might be with a strong recreational background, to make Poker vibrant again.
I obviously wholeheartedly agree with most of what's been said in this thread, but i cant emphasize enough on marketing succes of recreational players as much as possible.
Coming from a completely different track.
The real problem is how we display poker to public not old vs new school.
Currently we have people trying to ‘jazz up’ poker , ie make it look like reality TV .
Look at ‘PokerNight in America’ when Shaun Deeb slow rolled Mike Matusow.
Is this how people you want to show poker to the public , going for the lowest common dominator.
Compare that on HSP when you were bluffed by Bill Kien and well you reacted when outplayed in that hand. It’s a simple word ‘respect’ but a lot of player could learn it and that included some named pro’s when they bullied and angle shoot people on the table on television.
I also think poker personality are important but I want to see a variety of people playing poker on TV.
I love the Sam Farah ,Phil Helmut but also the quiet player such as Alien Cunningham, Erik Seidel ect as well.
I agreed with you about the shot clocks on action the endless tanking is not enjoyable to watch and that needs to down at all levels including WSOP.
IMO , even the best show on poker HSB had a problem with the players getting a hourly rate when that money should have been include as a random pot bonus keeping the poker pure.
So what can we do different.
This attacks the idea ‘ The masses don’t care about strategy’.
True but let’s try to enlighten them as well as entertain them.
I would love to see a ‘duplicate poker tournament’ televised with good commentary both funny some like Staples/ Benza and knowledgeable commentary such as Kapen / Esfandiari/ yourself included or somebody like that.
This first tournament would take the winners from the duplicate poker and then place them in a standard tournament afterwards. Maybe giving different chips stacks based on your position.
The detail can worked out.
We need to show the beauty of poker to the public where the different between players are the decisions that they make on the same hand. This would be shit scary to the current pro’s because it would up the standard poker so much higher, as people would see the different between decisions so much easier.
But in truth , this will not happen and all my writing above it is wasted of time because it poker now has lost it risk takers and I’m a nobody in the poker hierarchy.
Look at Dan Shak correct comments about (1 house $250,000) unlimited rebuy donk-feist taking media attention from the main event at the Aussie Millions. That’s what the image of poker is going to be in the future, an elite group of players gambling at higher and higher stakes where bankroll is more important than skill.
Remember a lot of the pro’s didn’t want hole cameras and look what a different that change made to the success of the game.
In regard to your duplicate broadcast idea I completely agree, but I think it should be done so with a TV cast and an internet cast. The TV version obviously needs less advanced strat talk because it's there to appeal to the masses and draw in new players. If the advanced players want to listen to a more strategy based version they can tune into the live cast.
Very good article, i really like watching Tony G or Mike the mouth among others but watching some of the younger players who are alot better does not appeal. Jungleman makes me bored when i watch him no personality and a lot of the newer players are like that. You watch Poker on TV to learn second but first be entertained , i love watching Durr even though he is quiet he has a certain presence about him. The young and old should interact better with each other as they could learn from each other , but i think the new breed think that old guy can't teach me anything he's past it well maybe he can't teach you much about how to play but he could possibly teach you how to entertain the viewers. If you are the best player in the world but you can't have a conversation with out putting people to sleep you will never make it to the very top, look at Helmuth a great player but even a greater person to watch he i entertains me more with his nonsense than he does when he outplays a player ! witch if you listen to him he does that every hand any way ??? Last thing Phil you are totally old school ? Stop trying to hang with the kids ! You do cross both sectors great to watch and entertaining but "KidPoker" (Can we still call him Kid) is still at least top 3 to watch great player great entertainment.???