A tumbleweed somehow rolls into a living room. Two gruff guys look at a bar table putting cards in each other’s hands. An ace slips from a man’s arm. They spin the table by spraying chips and beer, and the guns start to fire.
None of this ever happens. At least not anymore. It was such a time when poker legends Doyle Brunson and Amarillo Slim travel from town to town in Texas using their talents to extract a wealth of wealth from the state. Doyle told many stories of extinction outside the city and shooting him with a gun during a game of poker like normal spaghetti in the west. It was those days, right?
Today, poker’s epic duels occur in squishy chairs in front of computer monitors thousands of kilometers away, or in televised Texas Hold’em tournaments with commentators and advertising sponsors surrounding the table. As the internet continues to swirl the world, reality is getting in the way of the dinosaurs.
Not that I complain. The internet for poker has had a revolutionary impact on the game. The historical equivalent of using the industrial revolution and the first fire together. Kids in their twenties had played more poker online. Analysis, game theory, and meta-game strategy have gone from word-of-mouth conversations among live (as in brick and mortar casino poker) professionals to worldwide discussions on the internet.
Quite simply, the game has changed and it will never be the same. As a longtime online poker professional, this is my list of ways to leave an indelible mark on the beautiful poker game of the internet.
Do the words VPIP and PFR mean anything to you? Does the 70/5 ratio activate your salivary glands? If so, you’re probably smiling right now.
For those of you playing poker at a felt table in a casino, you only have two things: the hands you will play with and the hands you will not play. Depending on your competence, you will know the difference and more importantly when it changes. Other than that, just stack chips by you and your collective loneliness.
But on the Internet, these hands are numbers, not just hands. And these numbers are real, interpretable data. If you played 10 hands before the flop, you doubled 7 of them, named 2 and raised 1, your Voluntary Cash Win (VPIP) is 30 and your Pre-Flop Raise (PFR) is 10. Poker equivalent of learning first three letters of the alphabet. Every choice, every activity, you make at a poker table is a recordable statistic and reflects the quality of your game. An experienced poker player can immediately understand the weaknesses of another player’s game with a glimpse of their tricks.
At the same time, a player who keeps track of their own statistics can use them to find and correct their own mistakes. There may be only 10 numbers on my stats list, but the truth is that these are the building blocks that poker is extremely difficult to refine.
Nothing was more important to the fluid flow of strategy and ideas as an online poker forum.