I don’t know why Vanessa Rousso was a second round draft pick in the PPL. Don’t get me wrong… Vanessa Rousso was an excellent pick. There is no doubt about it. The girl has game.
I’ve been listening to the circuit lately… working on my own game, trying to get ready for the next tournament series I play. Even been reading some non-poker stuff related to game theory and what not. If anybody doesn’t listen to The Circuit, they are missing out on the most advanced free lessons in poker. The show rocks. I just wish more time was spent on interviews and news than Scott Huff responding to some random question sent in by a listener. Don’t get me wrong… all three of them I’m sure can play. And I think that they do great radio together. Especially Gavin. But seriously, guys… if I click on The Circuit w/ Special Guest Vanessa Rousso, how long am I supposed to have to wait until I get to hear what I wanted to hear?
Assim, back to Vanessa… the girl sounds really smart on radio. Wicked smart. And she’s been on a tear all year. Basically her rookie year, she enters the poker world and rocks it. She’s one of the few name females who actually have a significant win under their belt.
I played with Vanessa in the 6-handed no-limit event. The table lightened up a bit when she sat down. All of the sudden, the table was a lot more colorful. All sorts of new motivations started forming between the five guys who are playing with her. And then she made this incredible fold that had me really scratching my head wondering if I was overestimating her or underestimating her. Or maybe the question was whether she was overestimating or underestimating me. She raised pre-flop with JJ. The big-stack, who she didn’t know, I think made the call. I raised in the BB with 99. My memory is really bad, so I can’t remember if I raised enough to put her all-in or just enough to commit myself to a preflop reraise by her. It doesn’t matter. She agonized over it and folded. She showed it. Why did she show it?
What Vanessa didn’t know at the time (because she had just been moved to the table) was that the other big stack was a donkey. He had gotten his stack by spending a few minutes with Daniel Negreanu and getting a decent strategy. I think it was his first poker tournament. He was just some rich guy who much have been well-connected because how else would he get that kind of one-on-one time with Daniel? And his strategy worked. It worked even better when he busted Tuan Le with a stupid badbeat. And even better still when he busted my QQ with a KT, most of it getting in after the T hit on the flop. That one left a scar. He was clueless though about how to actually adapt his strategy to the strategies of the players around him… and that point was obvious to everyone else at the table. Except Vanessa. So she’s not only worried about my hand at this point when she folds her pocket Jacks. She’s worried about this guy calling behind her. But she doesn’t know that he probably only has some low suited connector and there is no way he’s going to call me.
So she layed the better hand down and then a few rounds later I busted her out. She had QQ and raised in the same position… I reraised all-in with AK (I’m pretty sure it was all-in this time). She called fairly quickly.
This would be dangerous. She’d be out if she lost. She had enough chips to give me a big scar if she doubled through me. I’d be dangerously short-stacked. I’m talking M around 5. That’s a bad place to be. Not to mention I’d be dumping my chips to the only other player in contention at our current table for the “best out of 6″ spot. David Soloman, who also was at the table would later come in 6th, so maybe that wouldn’t be fair to say… but at the time, that is what it looked like to me.
The board was favorable for me. It reminded me of an old poker joke I heard once that I someone told me when “It’s a Man’s World” was playing on the radio. He said, “It’s like we were all born all-in, seeing the flop with AK vs. QQs… and gentlemen… we won.”
I didn’t give it that much thought until I heard her on the circuit. Now here is a girl who is in love with game theory. Not like most of the other pros who talk about game-theory are, qualquer. Most people don’t really know what it is. I’ll be honest with you. I don’t.
But I have been interested in it for awhile. Pretty much since I first fell in love with poker. The movie A Beautiful Mind seemed to make a big deal about it. And it won best picture so it has to be good. But I had never of Nash. I checked out a few books from the library on game-theory. I had heard of John Von Neumann, who is credited with inventing game theory in his book “Game Theory and Economic Behavior”. Don’t bother picking it up. The thing is 10x as tough a read as the bible. I tried… made it to about page six. Way too much math, and I had skipped way too many Calculus 2 classes back in school (which is about the time I changed my major from Computer Science to Sociology). So I stuck to other people’s summaries. Real basic stuff. They all talked about the prisoner’s dilemna. Just seemed like some sort of scientific attempt at explaining karma to me. But I still failed to see why all these supposedly smart people thought Game Theory was relevant to Economic Behavior. Or even better for my purposes, how is knowing about game theory supposed to make me a good poker player? And why the hell is some young, gorgeous, intelligent girl who can seemingly be doing whatever she wanted to be doing with her life… why was she all into game theory? People are motivated by all sorts of things.
I think the answer may be because the theory goes deep. It’s not really about economic behavior at all… or about games. It’s about how to make the right moves. Not just in poker. In all of life. And someone could spend their whole lifetime studying about how game theory applies just in poker. Or mating rituals of chimpanzees. Or the six-celled organisms all existing together in the tournament that was Event #5.
Being in the poker world is kind of crazy sometimes. You get the opportunity to watch people rise and fall. There seems to be two types of players who are successful in the very long run. There are poker players, who for whatever reason have devoted a good deal of time on their art and have gotten good at it. Then there are players who play poker. These guys come in and seem to just have a knack at it. Just like they did with backgammon, or magic, or gin, or whatever it was that they were doing at the time. These are the types of players that become the superstars in poker. So many of them have risen to the top of the poker food-chain without ever having to win a major tournament. It’s amazing watching these players at work. Social engineers when they’re not at the table getting better. And then a bunch of them those guys actually end up to win a bunch of bracelets.
Poker goes deep too. Poker is a metagame. I’m not sure if that’s the right word for it. But it goes deep. It’s not all about making sure you play each hand correctly at all… because what is correct in a given situation has to do with variables that have absolutely nothing to do with the cards, or the flop, or the percentages. Or the psychology of other players. Or your own subconscious. Yeah… the poker economy is every bit as subtle and deep as any other economy.
I remember one time Joey said that he wanted to start treating his own life more like a poker table. I don’t know exactly what he meant. Still don’t. But he won the WPT championship very shorty after that. He changed a little after… it was amazing seeing him splurge, spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on the people he cared about trying to make them all happy. But when they asked for a stake or a loan, forget about it. One time we were all having sushi, along with some very good conversation by Bobby. His theory was that eventually, we’d create robots to do all the world’s manual labor and then we can all just play poker… and then we can teach the robots to play poker and then we don’t have to do ANYTHING.
I remember we were all having a good time… and there was a little tension between Joey and me. The whole honeymoon period, he had been asking if I wanted something… everytime he’d go buy everyone new cell phones, he’d ask what I wanted. “I’m ok… got a cell phone.” New clothes. “I’m ok. Thanks though man.” New Heelies. “Razoável. that sounds cools. ” But I didn’t ask him for anything. So then right in the middle of dinner… right in front of everyone… he looks at me and goes “What do YOU want, Holandês?”
I thought about it for a long time. I looked at him and smiled, nodding my head… knowing that he was granting wishes and he owed me a big one. I would have backed him in that tournament if I had done better earlier that year. And we both knew it. My grin got bigger.
Everybody laughed… but nobody harder than Joey. I later asked him if he could help me out with a stake. I wanted to try to play the big game at the Bellagio and see if I could set some records. I didn’t want to worry about makeup in the future. I asked him for $50k and he handed it over like it was nothing. A week later I was back to near-broke and close to being psycho-manic. Even had to go into the hospital overnight for a Haldol shot (after causing quite a bit of embarassment to myself in that game… and making a pretty stupid latenight call). But I was back out the next day… and honestly, I felt better than I had in a long time. On some crazy level, it all seemed like I had made the right move (except for the fact that I was I coming out of a mental hospital). A few weeks later I won my own bracelet.
Vanessa alter went on to go a lot deeper than I did in the $5k six-handed tournament. I’d venture to say she went deeper in EVERY tournament after that in the series. I didn’t even cash again. Tons of tournaments (including the $50k HORSE), a lot of them now played on my own resurrected bankroll… didn’t even cash after that win. Can’t explain it. I had stepped out of the zone the minute I felt my friends lift me into the air and I wouldn’t get it back. At least, not until after the series (I feel like I was definitely in the zone during the $40 tournament I played yesterday at The Bike).
Razoável… enough of all that. The shit gives me a headache and that’s about as far as I’m willing to go to figure out game theory. I don’t really care about it that much. I’m a lot more interested in sociology and playing games.