Stern’s Poker Star
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2012 17:02
Cam Crews, SCorp President and Langone student, was a winner at the annual MBA Poker Tournament 2012 at Caesar's Palace. He shares insights from this year's game.
How was your experience at the MBA Poker tournament?
It was the biggest poker event I'd been a part of, so I was relieved to not be as nervous as I thought I might be. It was great to be there representing Stern along with Zoe Feldman, Gerald Di Chiara, Matt Warshay, Michael Arguello, James Fischer, Gene, and Professor Chernoff. I played in both the big 180-person event on Saturday and the smaller 54-person event on Sunday, which I managed to win.
Can you share the secret to success in poker?
There's no "formula for victory," but awareness is key.
There's a myriad of factors to consider in poker such as weighing your stack size relative to that of your opponents and the pot, speculating on the number of players in a hand, your relative seat location and betting position, the blind and ante size, any patterns demonstrated by opponents or behavioral cues, the probabilistic strength of your hand relative to your opponents' hands, and the likelihood of your hand strengthening or weakening along the way to the river.
Being conscious of the signals you're sending out is equally important – I made an effort to act consistently in my mechanics of playing while applying different strategies to any given hand.
What are some tactics you used?
When I was dealt strong hands, I was able to take full advantage of them – often by leading out with bets, but sometimes by slow-playing. You don't want to be consistently leading out with bets representing your full strength, or you can be easily put on a hand, allowing your opponents to either escape before paying into the pot or to bluff you off of your hand.
This is related to managing the pot size. If you allow a pot to snowball, you may wind up with too many people being priced into a hand and calling your bets, meaning you'll be relying upon luck to survive. Luck is certainly a large part of poker, but part of the goal is to minimize your reliance upon it. In tournament play, a 100% chance of winning $50 is better than a 50% chance of winning $100.
What were some interesting things you noticed?
A surprising number of players stayed quiet and concentrated on the game, which looked like a lousy time. Just because you have competing interests doesn't mean it's not worthwhile getting to know your peers – even in the context of a mutually exclusive survival game like poker. I consistently made an effort to talk to the other players at the table, which made the game more fun. I'm a believer that having fun is positively correlated with performance. There were some awesome folks from Booth and Haas playing with me on Sunday that had fun with the game and we all made it to the final table.