In the June 28th issue of Time Magazine, author Dan Kadlec chronicles the “Attack of the Math Brats.” Using a defining image of five young guns – including Jason Lee – reclining on a couch playing online poker on their laptops, Kadlec reviews how the age-old game has been uprooted in recent years.
The four-page article begins with UB.com pro and 11-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth representing the old guard of poker. On “The Poker Brat’s” losing year in 2009, Kadlec narrates, “He blames the new breed of math nerd, those guys using a mountain of sortable data from the millions of hands played online to dominate the game.” Hellmuth explained, “The reason I won 11 bracelets is my ability to read opponents. These new guys are focused on the math. And they are changing everything.” Also profiled is 10-time bracelet winner Doyle Brunson.
Kadlec then dives into how the online poker world and Chris Moneymaker’s epic win in the 2003 WSOP Main Event changed the industry forever. Revenues from online poker sites nearly topped $5 billion worldwide last year. In addition, the Time Magazine article cites data from PokerAnalytics noting that Texas Hold’em, the “Cadillac of Poker,” accounts for 87% of all online play.
Kadlec even dives into the rules of Texas Hold’em, which take the author just seven sentences to explain: “There are perhaps 20 key probabilities… that have guided every serious player for generations. The odds of hitting your hand haven’t changed; that won’t happen as long as a deck consists of 52 cards.” Successful coach David “The Maven” Chicotsky, who operates a Las Vegas poker school, candidly admitted, “If you’re not willing to go all-in with bad cards, you’ll never win.”
The ability of online poker players to decrease their learning curves drastically was then highlighted. Kadlec remarked, “If the long term is defined by, say, a thousand tournaments, that was a lifetime for pros, who could compete in maybe 30 live tournaments in a year. But when you play online, you can play 30 tournaments a night.” He added that the online superstars of today employ a wide variety of poker software tools to excel, noting, “Old pros like Hellmuth and Brunson have been caught off guard.”
Not everyone is a believer in the internet generation, however. Poker author Mike Caro, who makes his home on the USA-friendly online poker site DoylesRoom, told Kadlec, “I know I’m pretty much alone in this view. But I actually think these internet kids are easier to read.” Caro published his acclaimed “Book of Poker Tells” in 2003. “The Mad Genius of Poker” has also authored “Caro’s Most Profitable Hold’em Advice” and “Caro’s Fundamental Secrets of Winning Poker,” among other periodicals. You can get “Poker Tells” on Amazon for less than $20.
Brunson called today’s poker tournaments a “crapshoot” and revealed that he plays Hold’em only 10% of the time. Despite Brunson’s less-than-optimistic remarks, Kadlec explained that the old guard isn’t going quietly. Hellmuth hired mindset coach Sam Chauhan and has also been conversing with fellow UB.com pro Brandon Cantu, who is just 29 years-old. To put that relationship into perspective, when Hellmuth won the WSOP Main Event in 1989, Cantu was eight.
Despite Hellmuth’s preparation, Kadlec provided an important reminder: “When Hellmuth enters the Rio this year decked out as a mixed martial arts fighter – his latest in a string of Main Event grand entrances – the math brats will be waiting.” Hellmuth already has two cashes in the 2010 WSOP Main Event, including a 15th place showing in a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em tournament. However, Hellmuth hasn’t made a final table in a bracelet event in two years and has been shut out of the winner’s circle since 2007.
Check out the June 28th edition of Time Magazine for more information on the math brats.