I recently learned about the death of Barry Tanenbaum. I assume you have never heard of him, as that is usually the case with even the most successful of “cash game” poker players (cash games, or “ring games,” as in playing for real money and risking your money you have in front of you via casino chips, instead of a fixed tournament structure with tournament chips). Barry was an old school Texas Limit Hold ‘em poker player, grinding out the profits year after year in Las Vegas, the city where so many celebrity/famous “tournament players” quickly ascend to fame, only to stumble over to successful cash game players to ask for money when they soon go broke. He had made some money early in his life in the pre-Sicilon Valley days in Cupertino, California, before moving to Vegas with his wife.
I played against Barry many times when I lived out in Vegas several years back, when he was a regular in the cash games around town. He was a fixture in the Bellagio poker room, $30/$60 Limit Hold ‘em game, where the average buy-in to sit down was about $1,000, and the volatility you endured as a player could be up to several thousand dollars per session. He was a very solid player and clearly a winner. Unlike many crybaby “pros” who berate bad players at the table when they lose a hand, Barry was a total pro, maintaing a sense of humor and not going on tilt, while keeping the bad players happy and playing longer, thus giving him an edge over the long run.
A few summers ago, during the hot cash game action that takes place when the World Series of Poker (“WSOP”) comes to town, Barry and I squared off in a $100/$200 limit hold ‘em game at the Bellagio which is, generally speaking, one of the bigger limit games you can find in any brick and mortar casino in Vegas or on the east coast.
I was honored to read him blog about a particular hand the next day, referring to me as an “excellent player.” It was rewarding for me to get that kind of respect from an older, accomplished player. The hand went exactly as he recalled, and I found it quite entertaining to experience and then read about the other two players in the hand. Even if you are not a poker player, I still recommend watching the speech he gave in the video above. Mike “the mad genius of poker” Caro gave the introduction. Barry discusses patience and grinding out “one big bet per hour,” which means, as an example, earning $60 per hour in the $30/$60 Limit Hold ‘em game. The parallels to disciplined stock trading are plentiful.
Here is Barry’s blog post, told in first person, from July 2007 detailing a hand played against yours truly. The “UTG” player was actually a friend of mine and the “cute girl” was indeed a cute girl and very aggressive player. I included the other portion of his blog about those two after the hand that I was in, for entertainment value. Click here for the full post and his blog as well. (“UTG” refers to “under the gun,” the player at the poker table first to act in a Texas Hold’ em game, to the left of the small and big blind, “BB” refers to big blind, “JJ” refers to pocket Jacks, “late-middle” refers to my position at the table when I re-raised or “three bet,” as he says, with pocket kings before the flop).
I played some sessions of $100-$200 recently. With the WSOP in town, the game is better than usual.
Perhaps you would be interested in some laydowns I made. Here are a couple:
UTG (average player, not especially tight) raises. Excellent player three-bets from late middle. I have J-J in the BB and make a marginal call. Flop is 7-6-6. I check, UTG bets, good player calls, I call. Turn is a 7. UTG bets, good player raises, I fold. Probably should have folded earlier, but there it is. Oh, on the river, check-bet-call, good player shows down kings, and UTG confides to cute girl player on his left (these two will be back in this post) that he had J-J! At least I put in $400 less than he did.
They were not all laydowns. Here is a play I picked off because of table talk. I have the button and a new player posts. Everyone folds to the new player, who checks (though the book says raise). I have 9-7 and do not wish to get involved. so I fold. SB (guy on my left again) completes, and cute girl (who is wildly aggressive, and gets way too much respect from the others) raises. Poster calls. SB folds. Flop is something, She bets-he folds. Fine. But now guy on left says to girl, “Nice play. I was thinking of doing that.” She rewards him with Mona Lisa smile.