Saturday, January 09, 2010

Jeff Sarwer Interview: Poker and Chess

Jennifer Shahade's "Lost and Found: An Interview with Jeff Sarwer" at the USCF website is worth a read, especially if you are among those numerous chess players with an interest in poker. I have made mention of Sarwer before on this blog ("Jeff Sarwer, Chess Prodigy Turned Poker Star" and "Jeff Sarwer - Josh Waitzkin, National Primary Championship 1986") and his story is worthy of full Hollywood treatment, especially now that he has reached what seems the sort of happy place where the film might end (though his life seems just getting interesting again).  I am still waiting for the full story, but I liked his reflections on the difference between poker and chess:

Shahade: How do you compare the wrenching feeling of blundering in chess to the wrenching feeling of getting knocked out of a poker tournament?

Sarwer:  Can't compare, blundering in chess feels much worse for me. In poker getting knocked out usually doesn't hurt as much because you lose a coin-flip that was out of your control or someone sucks out on you, things like that. Those type of things tend to effect me very little these days, simply because they have nothing to do with myself, it's just life playing variance with me. Occasionally in poker you feel bad when you do make a mistake, like a bad read, but since it is a game of incomplete information usually it doesn't feel that bad. It's more like a "hmmm got it wrong this time". Not a "how could I miss this? I just missed this stupid knight fork?"

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