When poker reached the internet a decade ago the gamers and maths whizzes that began turning their new found talents into careers raised a few eyebrows among the existing poker fraternity.
These players had learned their trade over years of hard work in live card rooms (paying significant amounts of money on their “education” in the process), and were suspicious of these new internet geeks who were competing against them in high stakes events having paid only a few dollars for their seat in an online satellite. They were clever, talented, a little socially awkward, and completely different to the old guard.
But these new pioneers had crammed in the equivalent apprenticeship playing online; on multiple tables, playing thousands of hands each day. They were often derided and exploited in a live poker environment (the term “internet qualifier” was almost an insult before it became simply cost effective), unable to compete when face to face with an old-timer who had been playing poker before they were born (something they would point out to the 21 year old who had just eliminated them).
But these geeks were about to change the very nature of poker, a new generation that used their minds in ways that turned words, previously reserved for insult, into new terms of endearment.
It’s not just in poker.
On television, geeks have been in the ascendant on both sides of the Atlantic. In the United States shows such as The Big Bang Theory tell the geek’s side of the story, reshaping the cool, good looking poster boys of yesteryear. In the United Kingdom, Sherlock made logic and mental dexterity into the stuff of popular culture, although some may lay the credit at the feet of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.All share the same winning trait; heroes characterised above all by their intelligence, and if that means they do extremely well at school, talk about Battlestar Gallactica and implied odds all the time, then so be it. Either way, suddenly it was cool to be clever.
It’s worth pointing out that geeks have perhaps been with us for generations. The older generations of players didn’t simply fade away, in fact many of the pre-internet players kept their seat at the top table; adapting their game, just as the internet players had.
The world of Mind Sports is one that the intellect will thrive in, and that means poker, where new players brought to the game find the mental challenge appealing, a task that with the right application can be conquered.