I have played a great deal of poker vicariously, through my clients. They send me hands they played, and we talk about them. All clients send me hands at the beginning, and some of them send me hands for years. I ask that the hands be written up in prose form, with analysis and feelings and whatever else thrown in. I ask for hands that went well, and hands that didn’t.
I study the hands and the comments, and I make some notes. Then we go over the hands in person or on the phone. I often talk about position at some point, working from my basic outline:
LAST = GOOD
NOT LAST = NOT GOOD
Which makes it even more surprising that it took me 7 years and 80 clients to spot this pattern: When a client tells me about a betting situation that was “uncomfortable,” or “annoying,” or “without good options,” chances are very good that the hand was POOP (Played Out Of Position, as in, not last).
As it happens, I’m not playing much poker these days, so when I analyze and discuss hands with a client, it gets my poker fever up. The old love blossoms. Just one problem. When I play poker, I am accustomed to being last to act on more streets than not. That’s how I like it. It’s easier and more profitable than the other way. But when I play poker vicariously through my clients, I’m usually POOP.
Or so it seemed. Not one to trust myself on this type of pattern discernment, I went in search of certainty. I thought about researching my suspicion by trolling client files and reading old hands. Then I thought of a less cumbersome way that could be fun and maybe even helpful.
The next three times that a client was about to send me some hands, I requested three uncomfortable hands. Hands that stuck in your craw, chapped your ass, made you wonder which end is up.
Of the nine hands sent to me, six were played out of position.
The first client sent three problem hands that were all POOP. I was happy to have the supporting data, and I was delighted to deliver my prepared bla bla bombastically: “Let this fact – that your problem hands are likely to be out of position hands – be a lesson to you about the true and inescapable nature of last and not-last!”
The second client, same thing. He POOPed on all three hands.
The third client, well, all three of his problem hands were hands he played on the button. His problem, according to him, was that he had been drinking too much and too often from the last-to-act bottle, before and after the flop. This struck me as analogous to someone eating too many vegetables.
“Okay,” I said. “So you were out of line on these hands and you made some negative EV plays that you knew were bad.”
“What I want to know is… Were you uncomfortable during the play of the hands? Did these hands meet the criteria I laid out?”
“No, they didn’t.” He said. “All three hands were relatively easy to play once I decided to play them.”
“Then I’d like to thank you twice. Once for providing data that I was able to twist until it supported my little conjecture. And also for sending me some hands on the button! POOP sucks, even on the phone!”