The Nature of Poker (Week #3) – Peripheral Vision

Andy Black

This is one of my favourite times of the year for watching sports. As time has passed I have come to regard the American Football playoffs season with its “win or go home” cliff edge as riveting viewing.

As an 11-year-old I was introduced to “British Bulldog “ at school.

A brilliant game that starts with one person trying to stop everyone else from getting from one side of the playground to the other. Each person that was captured joined the defenders. Eventually, more and more people would be stopped and grounded until there was just one person left as a runner with everyone else trying to stop them. The acknowledged Master of this game in my school was a guy called John Toal who would just keep going with loads of people hanging onto him. He did have an advantage though; he had an artificial leg that would never bend or break and he would simply push himself along with the other leg.

American football combines British Bulldog with throwing and catching the ball as it’s main core. Then there is the Quarterback; the guy who distributes the ball at the beginning before the opposing team flattens him.

Apart from all the technical ability and physical attributes, the great quarterbacks distinguish themselves from the rest with two extra qualities; knowing when a throw is on and using their vision to be able to change a throw(play)  in a split second as they look up the field.

Sometimes they can only possibly see the option out of the corner of their eye right at the limit of their peripheral vision.

Live Poker presents us with a similar challenge. The poker table we are sitting at is our playing field. Things are happening at a dizzying speed as people express themselves in countless ways, along with all the other variables such as differing chip stacks and cards and seat positions. Players come on and off the table with the pressure rising relentlessly.

When people play Phil Ivey they often remark on how he is taking everything in and that that is what puts him aside from the rest in quality.

Just look, listen and feel what is happening all the time it will inevitably come in useful at some point and may result in a seemingly easy opportunity that makes you look like a genius quarterback.

Or you could just coast, rely on your “game” as it is, and look forward to being consistently crushed by your opponents and getting used to the sweet smell of BO rather than that of victory.

John Toal is somewhere laughing at you and still inching forward.

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Born in Belfast and resident in Dublin, Andy Black is probably Ireland's most famous poker player on the world scene.

Currently sitting 2nd on the Hendon Mob for Irish players with €4.9 million in live earnings, his largest scoring coming from a 5th place in the 2005 WSOP Main Event.

A regular supporter of all IPT live events for many years, Andy will be attending all future Irish Poker Tour festivals providing support and in-person training to players.

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