June 12, 2004

Super System

I bought "Super System" a couple of weeks ago on sale at Sam's for about $16. It was originally published (with the title "Super/System") by the author himself, Doyle Brunson, and ran for over $50. I've heard it mentioned so many times, I figured I had to read it to see what all the fuss was about. I only read the introduction and the part about no-limit hold 'em. There are sections in the book written by contributing authors on other poker games.

Well, it was a very interesting, very quick read. Of course, I could probably gain a lot by rereading it a few times until I get Brunson's strategy down pat, but hell, I only play Hold 'Em with the kids. The thing that struck me most about this book is what a limited audience it is truly for. This book is for people who literally intend to make their fortune and spend most of their life playing poker, so they have to be very, very good. It also assumes your opponents are excellent players.

I mean, I can play Brunson's style all day, but when you're up against players like a 10-year-old who has to be told he has the nut straight when hands are shown and he's getting ready to throw his hand away as a bust, it's not really all that helpful. I can try to represent a flush all day long, but my opponents often don't even realize there's three of the same suit on the board, so as far as they're concerned, their pair of 5's is good, even though there are four overcards on the board. They won't even buy that I'm representing a higher *pair*, for crying out loud. Because of that, it is virtually impossible to "put" them on hands.

The first time I've ever seen pocket aces turn into four aces was when 10-year-old Cody did it a few days ago. He was betting pretty small, even though I was raising since I figured I had the nut flush (I had the king in the hole). On the river, when he got his fourth ace, he bet small, I raised (figuring he had three aces, probably), and then he called. He *called* my raise on the river. I lost the pot, but I was mad that he wasted such a magic opportunity! I couldn't believe he just called with four aces! He said he didn't want to scare me out of the pot. I tell you this, when I got four jacks the next day, I sure as hell cleaned *him* out! Oh, and he went all-in on that hand with King-high. Not very satisfying to win with four jacks against King-high, let me tell you.

Like most poker strategy books I've read, this one isn't really accessible to the masses, the casual players who want to enjoy a game with friends or family once in a while. Oh sure, the odds are there and some general advice, but for playing against amateurs, the only real advice given is, "Wait for the nuts, then break them." That's no fun. I don't want to sit for 5 hours and wait for AA or KK or whatever, mixing in the occasional bluff. I don't want to play every hand either. I would just like to see someone approach it with a bit more of a realistic perspective, but I'm sure that's very difficult.

Of course, this book would be more interesting had I not already pretty much read Brunson's biography in other books (which obviously stole from Brunson's story in this book), the best of which was "The Biggest Game in Town" by Alvarez. Either would make a great Father's Day gift, I would imagine, if I didn't already own them. :)

Posted by Observer at June 12, 2004 09:14 AM
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Well, it's really hard to write a better strategy for Texas No Fold'em like you play with your kids than "wait for the nuts and bust 'em". That boils down to, "They're going to play every hand on crap, so don't play on crap". There is no bluffing them.

I'd be incredibly frustrated playing players like that. I mean, I'd clean them out unless they got really lucky, but it would be boring.

Some of the people you play in Vegas forget they're not playing No Limit, and Limit Hold'Em is an entirely different game. Fold just about everything in Limit, play tight as a nun and profit. I rarely see the flop more than once a round in Limit, except when I'm small or big blind.

Posted by: Humbaba on June 12, 2004 09:58 AM

Right. The thing is, I could win every time if I were willing to sit for 4-5 hours and play tight. As it is, I play very loose and win about 75% of the time. I guess that's the frustrating thing about Hold 'Em, that to be really successful, you have to be so patient.

Posted by: Observer on June 12, 2004 11:52 AM

Incidentally, I recall Observer wishing aloud for good poker chips. At the Costco a couple of days ago they had a decent little card game set there ... 11.5 gram chips, 5 colors of them, with some other ok-looking stuff in a snazzy little aluminum case. $80.

Posted by: Feff on June 12, 2004 05:43 PM

I'm going to feel stupid if those are the same chips I have. I got some really nice heavy clay chips with six marks around the border (kind of a red-white-red-white-red-white pattern, for example, on the red chips). They were about 75 cents per chip. I now have 50 red, 50 black, 50 white. They also sell blue and other colors, and the snazzy little aluminum suitcase they can go in runs about $60. I'll have to check out Costco, I think!

Posted by: Observer on June 12, 2004 06:46 PM

Holy smokes. I was at Costco yesterday buying more milk, and saw those poker chips. Daaaaaaaamn. They are Super/Nice.

I mean, really really nice.

Posted by: Humbaba on June 14, 2004 08:21 AM

Ok, went to Costco during lunch today with Michelle, and we finally found the poker chip set. The chips aren't as heavy, and I don't like the pattern on them as much as the ones I have, but *DAMN* that's a cool set for just $80. $80 is about what I paid (a little less, actually) for the 150 chips I currently own. Hell, the little suitcase that is made for my chips only holds 6 rows of 50, not 10, and the suitcase along costs $60. Damn ripoff place, but I didn't know anyone else sold chips.

In short, I feel stupid. Now I have to decide before I splurge again on poker supplies whether I want to expand on my current set or just buy something like they're selling at Costco (or likely, soon at Sam's). I hate when that happens.

Posted by: Observer on June 14, 2004 02:33 PM

From the "ripping you off" department, here is the exact same thing they are selling at Costco, only for $200!

Posted by: Observer on June 14, 2004 03:47 PM

Yeah, they're awesome. My chips are very good, but not that good. Of course, I've got like 1000 chips. I think I paid something like $100 for them, but that was a decade ago, and they've been used heavily since then so I don't mind.

I'm wanting that Costco set.

Posted by: Humbaba on June 14, 2004 04:14 PM

How heavy are your chips? 11.5g are pretty heavy, those felt as heavy or heavier than any casino chips.

Posted by: Humbaba on June 14, 2004 04:15 PM

Well, I can't find the exact match to my chips in a 10-minute search (there's 10 minutes of my life I'm not getting back). They are "dice" chips, little transparent pictures of dice around the rim, and the white ones have grey marks on the outer rim in between the dice, six in all. Plus there are twelve little grey dashes around the inner rim, with nothing in the center of the chip.

I've seen other dice chips, but the white ones have blue marks around the edge. Otherwise, they are similar, and mine probably are 11.5g, which looks to be the standard.

What I am finding out is that I bought my poker chips (well, 50 of them) at perhaps one of the most expensive places you could imagine, plus I paid sales tax. I don't know why I didn't think to look online. I could even beat Costco's deal at a few of those sites, plus have a much larger selection of chip types. Just do a google search on clay poker chips or something like that. Father's Day is getting very close, so hurry! :)

Posted by: Observer on June 14, 2004 05:35 PM

I don't feel bad about my chip purchase 10 years ago, that was back when I could check NCSA's "What's New On the Web" page and visit every new web page... heh.

See:

http://archive.ncsa.uiuc.edu/SDG/Software/Mosaic/Docs/whats-new.html

Posted by: Humbaba on June 14, 2004 05:56 PM

I may be having delusions of what it was like to be gainfully employed, but $80 is pretty close to just beer money. Buy yourself the Costco chips, keep the others in reserve, tell the kids that's what they gave you for Father's Day, and be done and happy! This seems a no-brainer.

Posted by: Feff on June 14, 2004 11:28 PM

$80 was beer money when I was gainfully single, and especially when I was gainfully childfree and my wife worked, but nowadays, not so much.

Mind you, I'm having way more than $80 worth of fun with the kids now that they can talk.

Posted by: Humbaba on June 15, 2004 08:48 AM

Gah, Feff, don't help me rationalize it! I'm bad enough as it is. :)

Posted by: Observer on June 15, 2004 08:53 AM

Another quote from long ago...

Feff(EOA/Pac) feels like Mephistopheles on a good day.

Posted by: Feff on June 15, 2004 05:01 PM

Look for the new set at Costco, it is in a GREEN box and has great chips!! Don't buy the one in the orange box, you'll be very disappointed...

Posted by: on October 4, 2004 06:28 PM