Years ago, I developed a special Lessons Learned program for the Air Force Space & Missile Systems Center. The idea was to help Air Force contractors and major subcontractors avoid errors that had previously occurred on other programs, to prevent costly program/mission losses, plus subsequent corrective actions. The Air Force Manufacturing Problem Prevention Program (MP3) has saved literally billions of tax-payer dollars. (I received an award from a professional engineering society for this contribution.)
Would you ever play 5-6 offsuit? Generally speaking, that's a "garbage" hand and deserves being thrown into the muck. But if you are in the big blind, and there has been no raise, then you can see the flop without any further investment. Never pass up a free shot at the flop. You never can guess what might fall on the flop. . .
But, what if the pot has been raised preflop? Is there ever an occasion with 5-6 offsuit in the hole that would warrant your calling to see the flop? I'll share a recent experience with you. . .
In the first two parts of this series, we told you how the course came to be and how it evolved; why the classroom environment is ideal for teaching the game of poker; and the course content leading to the students being ready to go out into the real world of poker playing. This final part of the series will discuss teaching philosophy, teaching advanced concepts to the more experienced students; practice playing; and what does the future hold?
In the first part of this series, we told you how the course came to be and how it evolved; and why the classroom environment is ideal for teaching the game of poker.
About the course. In all, the course consisted of seven sessions, each 1 and a half hours long. The first hour was spent on lecture and class discussion. The last part of each session was devoted to actually dealing and playing hands of hold'em. That gave the students hands-on experience and an opportunity to ask questions in real time. We played only with chips. No money was involved.
The Poker gods had not been good to me. Playing $4-$8 hold'em at the Normandie Casino in Gardena, Calif., I was losing. Then, in an early position, I was dealt A-10 offsuit. With several players in, the flop brought me what looked like the solution to my problem, [10c] [10h] [4s].
This is especially for senior citizens, but even baby boomers and younger people can benefit from our message here. . .
It was George Bernard Shaw who said: "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." Think about it. . . Have you ever wondered why this is so? And what does this have to do with playing poker?
As I entered the Hustler Casino the other evening, a player who recognized me from my column in Poker Player stopped me to bemoan his fate. Tom told me that he was playing no-limit hold'em and had made the nut flush on the turn only to lose to a full house on the river. "I was rivered," Tom complained. I commiserated with him. Acting paternally, I put my hand on his shoulder. I looked into his eyes and said, "I understand. Next time you will have better luck." I gave him a good-luck pat on the back, and we went our own ways.
"I'm sorry," she said, "really sorry," as she racked up the mountain of chips she had just scooped in. I smiled back, understanding her meaning, and replied, "And I am even more sorry."
She was a solid poker player and a pleasant person. It was an exciting $4-$8 hold'em game at the Normandie Casino in Gardena, Calif. The hand she won wasn't a bad beat by any stretch of the imagination; it was just one of those things that is bound to happen if you play much poker.
Like most hold'em players -- young and old, I always raised pre-flop whenever I was dealt an A-K, but now I have changed my ways. (Note: This strategy is bound to be controversial.) A-K is one of the best starting hands, especially if suited. But A-K is a drawing hand. Usually you need to improve to have a decent shot at the pot. If you catch an ace on the flop, your pair of aces with the king kicker is the best hand -- unless someone has caught a set. The same applies if a king flops.
It helps to understand the kind of opponents you are facing when playing winning poker. (That's the only kind of poker we want to play!) We are all familiar with tight and loose players, timid, passive and aggressive players; often there are deceptive players (you may be one yourself); and, of course, we love "calling stations" - opponents we can count on to call our bets when we hold the nuts. Depending on the kind of players in the hand, we can adjust our strategy so that we have the best chance of winning as large a pot as possible - or avoiding calling bets doomed to be losers.