You've heard the 1980s hit by the Clash, "Should I stay or should I go?" It's not a great song, but it poses a great question for the poker player. When should you leave the game? Understanding the answer to this question is a major factor in determining whether a player is a long term winner or a loser for life.
Many players and writers have a gambler's approach to the question. It goes something like this.
Minneapolis and the surrounding area are known for many things: lakes, butter, the Twins, Vikings, Scandinavians, and for the politically inclined, Hubert Humphrey and the Farmer Labor Party. It is not generally known as a poker hub. That may all be about to change.
We poker players can usually think of many reasons for performing poorly. I find it instructive to look at many of these excuses for losing, and understand the sometimes humorous, if tortured logic, that justifies them. Even if this list doesn't help with your game-although it should-it will help you explain away your losses to people who have no business knowing about them anyway.
I flew to Las Vegas and entered the World Series of Poker in pursuit of poker glory. I left utterly defeated, literally sick and tired of poker. Here's the story.
I arrived in Las Vegas on Saturday, June 27, scheduled to play in the WSOP's $1,500 7-stud/8 event the following evening. I planned to stay two weeks and play in card rooms around the city. I knew that stud cash games were virtually extinct in Las Vegas. So I was looking forward to working on my no-limit hold 'em.
I'm normally very level-headed when it comes to poker. I recognize that my profit in the game comes from the difference between my skill level and the average level of skill of my opponents. I seek out games where I am better than my opponents. It's all very logical. I play for money-period.
Well, not quite. I make at least one exception to that rule. Once a year, at least, I play in a tournament that is, quite honestly, probably over my head. I play in the World Series of Poker. I play for glory.
I know a lot of smart players. By "smart" I don't mean, necessarily "good." I mean "smart" as in book smart. They got good grades in school. Maybe that's you. If it is, this article may help you see some inherent weaknesses in your game. But even if that doesn't describe you-even if you weren't a good student-this article should strengthen your game by showing you some of the weaknesses in the game of smart players that you can exploit.
I've changed the name of the column to embrace players of all poker games-not just stud. Accordingly, here's a column that applies to good poker players of all games, at all levels.
Good players lose money playing poker. Often. And I'm not talking about variance-the natural swings of profit and loss that cannot be avoided due to the vagaries of chance. Good players lose money because of avoidable and therefore correctable mistakes in judgment. Let me highlight the five biggest reasons good players lose and provide some suggestions for remediation.
In my last column I reported on some of the many poker rooms in Southern California that I played in during a recent visit. Here is the report of the remaining two poker rooms in LA as well as a summary of five other rooms south toward San Diego.
One of the keys to successful stud play is knowing when to be aggressive without having the best hand. Consider the following:
You have (Jd-Ah) Jh. A wild player at the table who nearly always raises when he has the high card showing is to your right. He shows a king. The bring-in is two players to his right. Sure enough, the wild man with the king completes the bet. It's now up to you. What's your proper action?
I've just experienced the most extraordinary combination of hands at the poker table. I'm not sure what lesson this experience will impart. But I'm sure it will amuse you.
It started innocently enough. I was at Foxwoods, as I often am, playing $20 - $40 stud. I had been playing for a few hours and was stuck about $500. I recently moved to a new table and was still figuring out my opponents. An aggressive and experienced player-the type that flicks in his bet expertly-sat down opposite me.