Note: I have started posted my blog entries on my website (http://www.spartanfox.com) and will probably do so mostly from here on out. For the time being though I will be happy to cross-post to my CR blog, since some of you seem to read it when I do post something. Enjoy!
Just the other day a professional poker player wrote up a blog on Cardplayer denouncing Vanessa Selbst as a poster child for poker being a luck-based game and not a skill-based one.
(Note: Believe me the only thing that stopped me from using airquotes
there was the fear one could use one on me when I describe myself as
poker media.) The argument stated that if people who employ a
hyper-aggressive style continue to get rewarded on tournament circuit,
then detractors of online poker can point to people like Vanessa as an
example of poker being based primarily on luck. That...by itself, might
have not been so bad, but the fact that the post was laden with so much
crap about Vanessa that you would have though this was going to be
accompanied by a bad beat story. And while attacking this guy's
credentials is, again, slightly hypocritical on my part, I will say that
attributing her success to a "Donkey's lifetime heater" (paraphrased)
is laughable at best.
Now I had the good sense to postpone any sort of response until after she had won or lost so now I can say this definitively -- Vanessa Selbst most certainly does not suck.
Not even a luckbox can win the same tournament twice in a year, and it
would be so outside the SD that statisticians would laugh at you for
even considering it. Now, at the same time winning as many major
tournaments as Vanessa (or Erik Seidel for that matter) have is probably
laughably out of range as well, but usually winning isn't attributed to
donk play. Certainly not over the course of a year, despite what the
blogger may have claimed. Hell, even if she had lost the event and was
the first to get knocked out in the final table I wouldn't have been
able to say that she was a bad player. (Note: I also will note that
in the same paragraph on the subject of standard deviation he talks
about a player who does everything right and never wins a tournament.
I think the problem this poster and others may have about Vanessa is
that she breaks the mold of the "degen gambler" who dropped out of high
school/college to persue the dream of being a professional poker player.
She actually already gradutated from college, is an on-again-off-again
law student, and by all account is an incredibly intelligent person. I
think its that that rubs some people the wrong way. After all, you aren't really
a poker player if you have anything else going for you right? Maybe
that's a little harsh, but I think its quite possible that on top of
being fearless, Selbst may have the best thing a poker player could have
-- life outs. Poker doesnt work out? She could become a lawyer...which
isn't exactly the worst paying job in the world. Does that partially
explain why she'll 5-bet shove with 84o and grin when she's up against
AA? (Yes I didn't forget that picture you removed, sir.) I have no idea.
But when you have something else going for you, why not go for the
strategy that ends up being the wildly-unpredictable, albeit wildly
variance-based one. Sorry, but that takes skill to develop and figure
out, not luck.
And yes, I realize with that last paragraph that I was the one projecting. It goes both ways.