Brunson’s Twitter, Grinders Bitter, Railbirds Titter

June 21, 2011, Posted by Pokerfarm

Brunson’s Twitter, Grinders Bitter, Railbirds Titter

Septuagenarian and bona fide poker legend Doyle 'Texas Dolly' Brunson is having a turbulent year.

In the days following Black Friday, he made a now-infamous joke on Twitter - 'Now maybe we will see if these online 'superstars' can play real poker. Ante up suckers!'. Reaction was mixed, and fell mainly into one of three camps.

The first was that Doyle made light of a dark situation, poking gentle fun at internet players while lifting the mood during a very uncertain and worrisome time.

The second was Doyle’s joke was inappropriate, on the grounds that many people’s livelihoods were at stake, and that Doyle himself sold his name to an online poker room and collected a paycheck for doing so.

The third, as seen in messages Doyle himself retweeted (with admirable good humour) was that he was a “bitter” “retard”, that “the game has passed [him] by” and that “any online player” would “crush” him (and those are some of the politer responses.)

While (hopefully) most online players have enough self-control to resist spewing venom at a seventy-seven year-old man over the internet, the abuse directed at Brunson in the aftermath of his joke mirrors the commonly-held belief that the standard of play online is orders of magnitude higher than in brick-and-mortar casinos and card-rooms.

The issue was brought up again when Daniel “jungleman12” Cates suggested to Brunson “how about instead of a durrrr challenge we do a Doyle challenge?” Dwan’s original “durrrr challenge” was that he could beat any player in the world (save Phil "OMGClayAiken" Galfond) over 50k hands of head-up NLHE or PLO.

Given that Doyle isn’t likely to set aside, say, sixty hours a week, every week, for the next six months to play 50k live hands against anyone, we’ll never find out for sure how Brunson would fare in such a contest. It’s a safe bet that Doyle is no longer among the world’s greatest poker players, but is it really true that the average small- or medium-stakes online grinder could take on a central figure of the old guard?

The common wisdom certainly holds so. On strategy forums, the usual advice given to online players looking to make the transition to live makes it sound as if live games are populated by craven degenerates and mouth-breathing donkeys who are not so much calling stations as calling terminals, barely able to hold onto their cards long enough to shove their chips into the middle when facing a bet. Reading descriptions of typical casino play for the first time, you might be forgiven for thinking that live poker was an elaborate adult-learning environment set up for those with incurably low IQs yet high disposable incomes.

The reality, of course, is not quite so simple. While there is an undeniable, and large, skill difference between a typical live game and the equivalent stakes online, veterans like Brunson have demonstrated a set of skills particular to live poker - the ability to get through downswings that would last a month online but last ten times as long in live play; being able to stay cool-headed and focused when tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars change hands directly in front of you; keeping pace with the game over the years while it changes almost beyond recognition.

And through it all, to maintain a good sense of humour and class. As Doyle recently posted: “No I have never played in the seniors event. Maybe when I get old enough.”


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