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Barbara Connors

Unclaimed Swaggage

by Barbara Connors
It’s an unusual concept in a poker game: money that isn’t wanted. Poker players have a reputation as being ruthless sharks who would sell out their own grandmothers for a little extra profit. But watch any given poker game and inevitably it happens, the bizarre spectacle of a pot surrounded by apathetic players who check, check, check. These unwanted pots—where nobody has flopped much of a hand or shows any real interest in winning—are commonly known as orphan pots.

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The Sweet Spell of Success

by Barbara Connors
Everybody knows about tilt. You’re playing poker, doing fine, winning at your usual rate— and then trouble rears its ugly head in the form of bad luck. A series of tough losses or one soul-crushing loss at the hands of an obnoxious moron can be enough to make the wheels come off. Desperate to win back what was so unjustly taken away, you begin to make impetuous calls and hopeless raises. Whatever the original trigger that brought it about, a bad case of tilt is powerful enough to wipe out years of hard-won poker skill and knowledge—not to mention a good-sized chunk of your bankroll.

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Tripped Up

by Barbara Connors
Tripped Up Flops that contain a pair are always tricky to play. Assuming you weren’t fortunate enough to match one of your hole cards with the pair showing in the middle of the table, what do you see when you look at a paired board? Do you see a great opportunity to bluff because you know how unlikely it is that any single opponent holds one of the two matching cards that remains in the deck? Or do you see impending doom, feeling certain that one of your opponents must have flopped trips or a full house, and whatever meager hand you hold cannot possibly still be good?

 When the flop comes with a pair, is the poker glass halffull or half-empty? The answer, of course, is “it depends.” Like most everything in poker, the correct way to play a paired board is highly situational. This is true whether you flopped trips or didn’t—but for the sake of this discussion let’s say you didn’t make trips. All things being equal, tripless poker players will typically view a paired board as either a prime bluffing opportunity or a reason to fold. To navigate the path between foolhardy bluffing and imagining monsters under the bed is mainly a matter of thinking things through.

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The True Continuum

by Barbara Connors
Defending against a continuation bet is a tricky proposition. The c-bet is a powerful play because it tells a good story. By raising before the flop and then leading out on the flop, the bettor consistently represents a strong hand across two separate betting rounds. Problem is, we all know (or we should know) that the flop will usually miss any two starting cards, and since premium pairs are rare that means the c-bettor must be betting with air a goodly portion of the time. So how do you know when to play back at the c-bet, and when to give it some respect?

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by Barbara Connors
If ever a concept appeared to be a perfect fit for the game of poker, it’s schadenfreude. A German word now commonly used in English, there’s no precise translation but essentially it refers to feeling pleasure from the misfortune of others. Schadenfreude is the opposite of compassion—instead of experiencing pity and a desire to help when we witness a fellow human in distress, we feel a secret (or not-so-secret) sense of delight.

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Dark Matters - Players Who Act in the Dark

by Barbara Connors

In a game where we strive to misdirect, obfuscate, and confuse the players on the other side of the table, few things can cause an opponent to knit his brow in befuddlement like acting in the dark. Simply put, acting in the dark means you commit to your next action—be it a check, bet, or even shoving all in—without the benefit of actually seeing the next card dealt. And while it is technically possible to make the move preflop, practically speaking players who act in the dark almost always do so on the flop or later, and the dark action is almost always destined to be a check.

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Pay it Sideways

by Barbara Connors
Not all battlefields are created equal. The combatants who come to a poker tournament hoping for fortune and glory must consider the landscape before deciding on a battle plan. In short, they must consider the payout structure. Traditionally, poker tournaments have favored a very top-heavy payoff scheme that awards about 70 percent of the total prize pool to the top three finishers, with the lion’s share going to the champion. However, many tournaments feature a flatter payout structure, one that spreads the prize money out more evenly among all those players who are skilled enough—or lucky enough—to make it into the money.

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The Post-Oak Always Rings Twice

by Barbara  Connors
 For aggressive poker players who love to steamroll over the competition, nothing is quite so satisfying as a big bluff. Pushing a mountain of chips into the middle of the table, then watching with quiet satisfaction as your opponent agonizes over the decision, hems and haws, tries to work up the nerve to make the call—only to fold the best hand in the end. It’s a classic form of poker warfare that never gets old.

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Lights... Camera... Reaction!

When the Nine meet at the Rio on November 5,   poker’s ultimate final table will also be its ultimate feature table, watched by millions of viewers around the globe. Ever since the invention of the “holecard cam,” televised poker has been hugely popular, but what exactly are we seeing when we watch a televised poker game?

Is it just like any other sporting event on TV, with the camera as passive observer clinically recording each play but rarely having an effect on the players themselves? Or is it more like a sedentary, hoodie-drenched reality show, featuring a cast of characters who can’t help playing to the cameras—even if they’re not consciously aware of it?

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Playing it Cooler: The Bad Beat on Steroids

by Barbara Connors
Poker players put up with a lot. Obnoxious opponents, unhealthful food, and the ever present threat of bad luck. No matter how skilled you are or how hard you work at making the correct decisions, you’re always at the mercy of cold cards and cruel suckouts. You can play your heart out and still go broke. But for all the slings and arrows we endure at the poker table, perhaps no single blow is more crushing than the cooler.

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