Tommy Angelo’s Elements of Poker
December has been a pretty shitty month thus far. I moved up, played a ton, and proceeded to drop 60 buyins at the super turbos, which is like 100 of my previous average buyins. Despite all this, according to an EV analyzing program (which I may talk about in more detail as well as some of the caveats of using it in a future post) I’m playing just fine. In my last 1000 or so I’m down almost $4000 in EV, which is irritating as hell.
My main problem with losing is it causes me to not want to play. I don’t ever tilt in the sense of changing the way I play based on how I’m feeling, but I may sit down to play X hours and then end up quitting because I take a lot of beats. After that I usually won’t play for several hours or even the rest of the day. I absolutely have to get in the habit of making myself play something like 6 hours a day at least. This was never a problem when playing NL cash. There I did actually tilt and go nuts at times, but I’d be back at it again like nothing happened within an hour.
I had been meaning to get Tommy Angelo’s Elements of Poker book for some time. I knew it was a book about the meta aspects of poker — controlling emotions and such. It’s an interesting read and surprised me in a few spots. For those that don’t know, Tommy Angelo is a poker player, author, and coach. He has a penchant for mixing personal anecdotes with bits of Zen-like wisdom, such as the betting decisions that trouble us most are the ones that matter least and to win at poker you have to be very good at losing.
Tommy breaks Elements of Poker down into 4 major sections: real life poker, internet poker, tournament poker, and cash games. Obviously there is some overlap and there is a lengthy general section at the beginning of the book called Universal Elements that covers mostly metagame aspects such as how to deal with losses, how to control yourself, how to reduce tilt, etc. Most of this is stuff that readers probably already know implicitly but it definitely helps to see it in writing and it is definitely the strongest point of the book. Rereading it regularly is probably a good idea, and I hope it helps me with the aforementioned problems I’ve been having. As Tommy comes from a live poker background, nearly all of the specific anecdotes come from live play. The sections on real life poker, tournament poker, and cash games are quite lengthy. The section dedicated solely to internet poker is just 2 pages, but that shouldn’t dissuade internet-only players from reading the whole book.
There is actual strategic content in the book, some of which is questionable and presented oddly. Even if you don’t agree with some minor things, the method of thinking he uses to arrive at his conclusions is sound. For instance, there is a very long section on what basically amounts to ICM. But rather than just present the real math behind it, he takes a dozen pages of presents all kinds of examples to get through to the reader. Beginners and advanced players alike will benefit from following Angelo’s thought process as he explains concepts, even if said explanations are long-winded.
It’s a good read, but only time will tell how useful it truly is. I think it will be. I think if Tommy read this post he would probably say I haven’t learned much since the first part of it is me complaining and as he says:
- The Professional does not run good or run bad. He does not pleasure himself or torture himself with arbitrary time frames and accounting. He just plays.
Oh well… can’t I sin one last time?