(This article is not only about the poker part, but also about some attitudes in life that mirror bumhunting)
The term “bumhunter”
For those of you who haven´t heard of it, a bumhunter is a player that only plays against the weakest competition and avoids playing at all against competition that knows basic poker strategy.
History of “bumhunting”
I remember 3 years ago when I learnt the rules, this is what I was taught. GAME SELECTION, GAME SELECTION and GAME SELECTION. Now in the last few years, due to increased competition, lower winrates and a tougher environment, players started to be more and more aware of where their edges come from (or maybe they HAD TO). This lead to some folks having a zero tolerance strategy about which games they are playing and which not. There were players who didn’t like this and they started calling players who were very professional, disciplined and not ego-motivated, Bumhunters.
My take on “bumhunting”
– The way of thinking about edges –
I encourage the way of thinking “where does your edge comes from”. I’ve already written articles that are not about bumhunting, but rather about finding out where you win your money from. One way is to look at from which kind of opponents, and another is, in which situations. The articles cover more the “situational part”, since the “opponent part” is rather obvious and self evident. For more about the situational part, read in this article and another one.
– Mindset & professional attitude –
In a way all of us are “bumhunters”, just to varying degrees. When to draw the line between a game selector and a bumhunter?! It’s a hard thing to do, since it’s all relative to our own skill, opponents’ skills, our daily mood and bankroll. One other thing that is great about “bumhunters” is their lack of ego. They don´t care to be the world’s best. They don´t care about their fame. They may not have tested their boundaries, but they stay within what they know to be working. This enables them to concentrate extremely well without having interwoven ego struggles and emotional ups & downs. In a way they are like a little tax. Slowly, quietly eating up some bites of the big cake.
– Easy money with little effort –
I am a proud coach of bumhunters. My students at that time were not good enough to battle with the best. So my best advice for them was to set up a system and exploit it to the maximum. Funnily enough, isn´t that what everybody in poker is (or should be) trying to do? Should I have told them to go out and get beaten up? In a way this is actually not that bad of a strategy (will come to that later in the cons part), but a solution has to fit the clients’ needs. And my clients’ need was to make decent money, with little effort in a short amount of time. People give it bad words, but mostly it’s jealousy and stupid complaints.
– Staying mediocre & not living up to your full potential-
There is something to be said about this. Yes, it can be smart to stay within your limits. You know what you´re good at, but what if you could be doing way better? This doesn´t even have to be in poker only. People with a bumhunting mentality tend to use the minimalistic approach (least effort, max outcome) for other things. It is very suitable for many situations in my opinion and I have used this approach very often myself. Some of the time I have regretted it. Other times I was glad for it. To cut it short to one sentence: It would be pretty sad if you had the potential to become excellent at something, but missed the chance, because you went for the low hanging fruits and quick cash.
– It’s a short term solution only –
Right now, at most online poker sites you will find at least 30 heads up tables per limit with only one player sitting and waiting for a fish. In general a bad player looses his money quicker the more hands he plays. At heads up poker, we meet the extreme. One shark, one fish. The fish loses its money rather fast, without much rake going to feed the poker site. I think it’s a question of time when heads up poker will be completely modified. I have no idea when and how, but the way things are run at the moment, it can´t hold up long term.
We will see a big increase in bumhunting, leading to playing HU ad absurdum (one might argue that’s already the case). Or the sites will take care of the problem. Most likely it will be a solution similar to the one that party poker already has. A very limited amount of empty tables and new tables only opened if there is enough action. Long story short, being a HU bumhunter is a short term operation. A very good and profitable one, but be aware that this is not going to work forever. Same can be said about bumhunting in general, just to a different degree. Be prepared.
– You don’t improve & evolve as a player and person-
If you have the mindset of $str8 Ca$$$h now, whatever I will write now will sound like a big blasted portion of fluff. If you´re one of the players who can win & lose more in a day than your parents in a year and doesn´t feel fulfilled, chances are that you´re infected by the bumhunter virus. If you are not fulfilled in some way and don´t even get paid a royalty for it, I´d advise you to change S O M E T H I N G. You know this anyways, it’s just a matter of if you´re the type to do it or not. No matter on which level of bumhunting you are, you´re putting up a significant amount of your time and energy into this. I have found out for myself that poker has taught me lessons in the most brutal (read AWESOME and TOUGH) way. Had the luck to experience situations in a very short amount of time that people with a “normal” curriculum vitae will experience some point later without expecting it. To name some: Being broke, dealing with big sums without shaking all over and losing your mind, being responsible for yourself, being accountable for what you do, relying on yourself, being hated by others, others wishing you death/AIDS … this list can go on forever. If you´re an outside poker reader and think this is arrogant, well, let me say it’s not meant to be that way. But I can understand if it comes across like that.
Most of my school mates play it safe. And when meeting and talking to them I feel like we´re living in completely different realities. Note the word DIFFERENT. Of course you know what I prefer, but each to their own. After reading Rich Dad Poor Dad I was able to better verbalize what most of “us” (poker players & entrepreneurs) have always felt.
If you have the mentality of a bumhunter, you will miss out on a lot of healthy and awesome experiences. Bumhunting is very similar to “playing it safe”. By trying out other things and testing your boundaries, you will encounter more enriching experiences. Could write more, but I feel that we´re getting too much off-topic already…
– People dislike other people with bumhunter mentality –
If you´re a socially versatile bumhunter, nobody will care and you´re fine. Now that I don´t play professionally (= mostly for the money) anymore, it is interesting to see how my perspective adapted to a new situation. Now I don´t have to put myself into the shoes of others, now I AM “others”. Soon, hopefully not too soon, I will be the scout, noataima and nawtstr8 that everybody will be waiting in line for (ok, in a way, this would assume that I got millions to burn, not too bad after all! ).
I don´t like to have nits in games when I´m out for fun. There is a natural disgust against people who are just there to spank you with Aces, Kings and sets. They don´t challenge you. They just sit and wait to bring home their little EV edge. Nobody likes them. They offer no value. Ironically, somebody like durrrr takes way more money out of the games, but is infinitely more liked. Not only because he is extremely polite and concerned about the game, but also because everybody knows he´s not a nit and also there for the challenge.
Yadda yadda… you probably know all of this, so I´m not going to repeat it all over. Just keep in mind, if you offer more value and give the other people more genuine fun, you´re automatically profiting more. Funnily enough, you can only realize this to the full extent once you don´t care about it anymore. Similar analogy with girls. If you´re badly after hooking up, girls can literally see that and get turned off (not because they don’t like sex). The moment you don´t give a **** and genuinely don´t care, they run after you like you´ve just won the lottery. Let’s call it “ironic magnetism of life”.