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.
I continued my Florida poker odyssey-with stops in Melbourne and Daytona Beach. I arrived at "Club 52," the Melbourne poker room, at 1:30.
I flew from Boston to Florida filled with anxiety. My dad was having surgery to repair some damaged arteries-a tricky operation involving the insertion of three stents. Though the surgeon insisted it wasn't risky, it was still stressing him, his wife, and me.
Even so, I was glad to be there to help shepherd him through the testing, hospital admission, surgery, and recovery.
I love poker adventures-finding and playing the game in unusual places. I don't like to boast, but I may have played poker in more places than anyone else except, perhaps, perpetual poker cruisers Jan Fisher and Linda Johnson.
I started an article two issues ago about this lovely lady at Foxwoods who played too tightly. I ended by noting that when playing past third street she exhibited another serious problem that I'll get to here.
There's a poker lesson here. Trust and stay with me for a few paragraphs. As a Jew, I used to have a really hard time with Christmas. There was Christmas music and decorations everywhere, Christmas parties for a solid month, and Christmas specials on TV. I didn't like everyone assuming that I celebrated it-and I wanted to prove myself different.
I visited Foxwoods over the Thanksgiving weekend with my buddies Jim and Andre and spent much of my time playing $20-$40 limit stud. But after a while I realized that I was up against a table of very good stud players who were unlikely to be replaced by mediocre or poor players. So I dropped down a level to $10-$20.
I'm not one to fret about dealer errors. They make them-usually to other people. They correct them or the floor corrects them. Someone invariably is pissed off. Big whoop. Deal the next hand.
But I was subject to one at Foxwoods. A huge pot was on the line. And I thought I might lose it all because of what the dealer did. For a change it was my ox that was being gored. That made all the difference.
You can decide for yourself if the floor made the right call. This was a $20-$40 limit stud game with some very loose and wild players. See what you think.
When I'm not playing poker I'm a professional union negotiator and have been for 25 years. So when I write about bargaining, I know of what I speak. Let me tell you about a bargaining strategy that many of us apply, with disastrous results, at the poker table. Understand it, recognize it in yourself, and avoid it.