If You're a Winning Poker Player and a Jerk, Don't Expect Game Invites
Some of you may have been following Daniel Negreanu’s posts over on Full Contact Poker about his recent high-stakes poker escapades in Las Vegas.
A point I wanted to talk about is when he mentioned building relationships in order to get a seat in some of poker’s top cash games.
Negreanu revealed that if you’re a winning player and a bit of a jerk, you probably won’t get invited to many of these games.
Instead, relationship building is key to getting into these games. His point isn’t just applicable to high-stakes poker but all poker games.
Poker is a game of relationships and sometimes it is those relationships that get you into the best games.
If You Win Too Much, Don’t Expect Fish to Come Callin'
It has been my personal experience and the experience of others that being a winning player is a detriment if you like to frequent private and home games.
Early on you might get invited to a few games but as time passes the word will get out if you're a consistent winner. Poker players want to win and private game hosts want players they can beat -- or at least feel they have a chance to beat.
Back when I still regularly played home games, there was one game that I frequented but for the life of me I couldn’t seem to get an invite to any of the other games that I knew were out there.
Ultimately, it was suggested that the reason was that I “didn’t give enough money back.” In essence I was winning too often.
I pretty much gave up on getting into additional home games after a certain incident.
One of my best buddies called me up one night saying that there was a NL Omaha tournament going on and asked if I wanted to play. I was “ok” at Omaha but never played NL Omaha.
The buy-in was reasonable so I said I’d come play. What I wasn’t told was that this group had never played Omaha and my friend had talked them into playing the game that night.
I get there and just applied standard Omaha strategy and was doing ok but then I went on a rush of cards and built up such a monster stack that nobody had a chance.
Ultimately, I cleaned out the table for a good $250 to $300. That’s not a lot but the average win in that group’s home game was about $50 to $75.
Afterwards my friend called me and politely told me they never wanted to play with me again because they had “heard things” and thought I was a ringer.
Relationships Are Important
Finally, I was only ever able to regularly play in one particular game. The only reason that happened is because these people were a bunch of folks that I had met in a bar league.
Yes, I was a consistent winner in that home game. We held a weekly tournament and I can’t tell you how many times I cashed in that thing. But this was one of those groups where the social interaction was more important than the poker.
This was evidenced by one guy that was one of the most likable players in the game but he never won. Not one time. However, his wife was one of the best players there. They were a lot of fun.
Ultimately the relationship between some of the group and the host of the game fell apart and many of players that made up its core left.
Unfortunately, the host was also part of some of the other games in town and it made it nearly impossible for them to play in those other games.
Presenting the Right Image
If you can take anything away from my stories and from Negreanu’s blogs, it's that you need the right image to get into the private games you want to play.
You don’t want to be perceived as a ringer and you don’t want to be an ass to the other players.
Think about it. Do you want to play with unpleasant people or with those you can never beat?
Of course you don’t. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that you should start throwing games for the sake of staying in the game.
Your best bet is to build an image that makes you seem like a bit of loose cannon that is the life of the game, or at least someone that everyone likes to have around.
Yes, this is a lot of work. But the benefits will be worth it provided that playing in private games is your goal.