There's a long story behind my latest google search and it taught me a bit about myself and my poker problem. It goes something like this:
I've spent the past 10 minutes trying to find out what the hell happened to Steve Guttenberg.
He was big cheese back in the day, like a sort of Owen Wilson guy with a specific 80's spin. I'd say his career was derailed, as much as anything, by his inability to steer clear of bad sequels.
1984 - Police Academy (Cadet Mahoney)
Steve is a total badass with a long record. His punishment: Join the police force. This was a brilliant explaination of the LA Police Department pre-Rodeny King. Plus, there were hot girls at the academy.
1985 - Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (Officer Mahoney)
At this point the guy who does sound effects was still funny. The rest of the movie was not.
1986 - Police Academy 3: Back in Training (Sgt. Mahoney)
Still not funny, but working closer to the unfunny/funny split.
1987 - Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (Sgt. Mahoney)
I saw this movie AT an actual honest-to God movie theater. I kid you not.
Steve had the good sense to steer clear of Police Academy 5, 6, and 7. The damage was already done. By the time he did "Three Men and a Little Lady" his sequel problems had killed his career.
BadBlood, good friend that he is, hosted a homegame just for me last night. I missed Thurday's game because the wife went to see "The Vagina Monologues" (This is another good place for the phrase "I kid you not" but I'm trying not to overuse it). In the wake of my last, admittedly whiny post, I was determined to stay focused, play good poker, and PAY ATTENTION for the duration. I semi-pulled it off.
Shep "8 Ball" Tiltstien
Frankleberry (now named after Tackleberry from the aforementioned "Police Academy" and NOT FrankENberry the delicious breakfast cereal.)
I managed double up early after sucking out a set of Jacks on Frankleberry's Kings but then donked most of the profit off by "creatively" CALLING a $15 pre-flop raise from Otis and a Call from BadBlood. I was in early position and determined to Push on the flop regardless. I did. Otis folded. BadBlood double up.
C'est la vie. That's how I roll.
After that I played pretty good poker with one very notable exception.
When my game is working well, I'm a small baller to the core. That is, I play hundreds of little hands and hope my ability to read opponents informs me as to when I can make money and when I can bail.
It's a fine line, but it's turned a good profit margin the past 2 years.
I'm not an excellent mathmatician and have no great talent for, well, anything... except people. I have a decent instinct for when people are acting or being straight. If that fails, I have a fair track record of knocking others OFF their preferred game, and forcing them into something I can easily recognize.
That's "when my game is working well." It isn't always.
Here are the Chief Problems:
1) Ego- In those happy moments when I'm on my game, I like to think of myself as a pretty good player. It's a silly thing to do in poker and it hurts in several ways.
First, I tend to think my game is good enough that I can concentrate on the moves of only the best players at the table and spend less time on others. That's dumb. It does no good to find a reliable tell on a player if you're too damn lazy to look for it.
Second, because my style of play skates such a fine line between good and awful, I have to PAY VERY CLOSE ATTENTION AT ALL TIMES. The slightest lapse in focus turns "small ball" into pure donkey behavior. If I allow myself to believe that I'm just as good as the better players at the table I lose my abilty to at least COMPETE with them.
2) Devotion- One night at Blood's homegame I killed the night with THE SAME horrible cards... small ball at its best. On some nights, as we've all seen, there are certain combinations of horrible cards that run in statistically bizarre ways.
That's how the JACKHAMMER (J4o) was born. CJ still loves that hand.
The HAMMER is somewhat similar, although distinct for a variety of reasons.
So, this one night at Blood's, I won REPEATEDLY with 36o. A crappy hand that won me several large pots. I fell in love with that stupid hand. Likewise I started making moves with 92o, regardless of position, simply because one night Mrs. Blood said to her husband, "You folded that? G-Rob would play 92o... and he'd win with it." I spent several homegames working to prove her right.
Now before you criticize the actual HANDS, don't miss the small ball point. To play effectively, THE STARTING HANDS ARE GENERALLY IRRELEVANT.
That is, the hand I hold is far less important than everything else at the table. The opponents, my position, the board... etc.
If you can put your opponent on overs, for example, you can call a pre-flop raise with almost any two cards. If the flop is lousy, and you're in EARLY position, there are thousands of people that will... a) call the flop bet hoping to catch on the turn and then fold to a bet there giving you a nice medium size pot... or b) fold instantly. Beware of players good enough to c) make you pay dearly for that basic move and next time you do it... HAVE A HAND... you'll be paid like a king.
3) Fear- I have a tendancy to clam up and shut down if the tables been killing me that night. That means I revert to simple ABC poker and become, at best, a mediocre player. Most likely, I become a really lousy tight/passive donkey with no chance at profit.
It takes a certain amount of guts to consisently call raises and bet hard with crap. If I lose the nerve to do it, it kills my focus. That, in turn, kills my ability to actually make money when I DO have a made hand.
Profit is Good.
Focus is essential to Profit.
Fear kills focus.
HAVE YOU SEEN "THE APPLE"?
I downloaded a podcast from SLATE about the worst movies of all time, designed to coincide with Oscar season. In the category "Worst Musical" the reviewer mentioned two gems from the 1980s.
1) Xanadu (Olivia Newton John, a favorite of BadBlood be the way)
2) The Apple
The musical clip of THE APPLE was so GOD-AWFUL that I had to know more. The premise of the movie is this sorta Biblical tale about two youngsters mixed up in the temptation of the music industry... shot in 1980 but set in the "future"... 1984!
It's an astounding bit of fimmaking. I immediately wanted to own it.
Back when CJ still LIVED in G-Vegas, we'd have these nights of TV idiocy where I'd invite friends over... we'd have a few drinks... and then watch HOURS of infomercials. To date, my reigning favorite is the "Ultimate Chopper."
We'd make fun of every shot, sentence, and feature. Folks, we're pretty freakin' hilarious people.
So, I figured, I'll just look it up at find a copy.
That search led me to the IMDB site... which mentioned three things:
1) This movie came out the same year as "Can't Stop the Music" which is the musical version of the story of the Village People. Again... I kid you not.
2) At the premier of "The Apple" people threw their souvenier soundtracks at the screen... causing damage to the theater.
3) This movie is still very popular... with gay people.
That led me to a crisis of ego. I wondered if my enjoyment of camp movies made me just a little bit gay. (another aside: I have a very close gay friend, and one night while he, Otis and I wondered which... seemingly innocent... activities made you gay... he declared "I have sex with men, does that make me gay?" That should've shut the door on wondering what OTHER activities are "gay"... but we all have weird ego things about our sexuality.)
I decided ego would NOT interfere with an otherwise good time... so... I also looked up the Villiage People movie.
It stars Steve Guttenberg.
Steve was actually a star at one point. Cocoon was a big hit. So were "Three Men and a Baby," "Police Academy" and the unwatchable but popular "Short Circuit." What happened?
I made up my mind, and that's what matters at this point, that Steve was too fearful to try truly interesting work and became devoted to shitty sequels.
He turned down the role of Josh in "Big" and Tom Hanks has been forever grateful.
He turned down Bill Murray's role in "Ghostbusters" too.
I'm becoming the Steve Guttenberg of poker, and I need to get right.
Not all of us are lucky to make a correction in time. As I write, this is the top credit in Steve's IMDB profile:
"Police Academy (2007) (pre-production) .... Carey Mahoney"
I had a winning session Friday.