In the January 12, 2004, issue of Poker Player, I commented on a recent column by Oklahoma Johnny Hale in which he had expressed his opinion that "senior poker players are really not playing . . . to win money. They are playing for the fun and/or sociability of the game." I had disagreed with that statement. And OK Johnny replied in his column. But something he said made me think: Why do we really play poker?
The "Esther Bluff" - What's that? Let me explain. . .
A year ago, I introduced you to my then 8-year-old granddaughter, Esther Fayla Epstein, and her almost incredible, innate talent for playing poker. She has an instinctive flair for the game; she's a natural winner. .
Well, Esther is now 9 years old and is away at overnight camp for two weeks - her first time away from home without her Mom. Before she left, she made a button for me with her picture on it, so I could remember her while she was away.
Many years ago, as I was advancing in my engineering and business career, a friend recommended I read a book entitled The Art of War by an ancient Chinese general named Sun Tzu. Indeed, I found his teachings very useful during my career. (So too was Dale Carnegies' book on How to Win Friends and Influence People.) Recently, while reading about a fierce high-school class election competition, I was reminded of Sun Tzu's teachings on how to win a war.
Was it a mere coincidence - or what? Was it a self-fullfilling or pre-ordained prophesy? Whatever. . . It was almost eerie! Could the fact that it was Friday the thirteenth have anything to do with it?
In poker it is legal to steal. If you can steal two or three pots during the course of a session, that may well be the margin of victory for you. "Making your move" is a super strategy to help you win the pot without holding the best hand. Like other bluffing strategies, there is a right time and a right way to make such a move successfully. Otherwise you would be wasting your hard-earned money ($$$).
Reading Nick Christenson's review of the new DVD, Texas Hold'em: The Winning Strategy with Mike Caro (Poker Player, June 13, 2005), caused me to contemplate that question. Since I have been teaching poker classes at a senior citizens center for three semesters, I now have a basis for addressing that question.
A drawing hand must connect to become a likely winner at the showdown. Examples are four cards to a flush or an open-ended straight. You need just one more card to make your hand. Certainly, there are hands that opponents might catch that will beat your flush or straight, but those are relatively rare. Most often, your flush or straight will be the best hand.
Our question today: When should you raise after flopping such a drawing hand?
It was a blast! Sunday, May 15; Gardena, Calif.- The ESPN Radio 710 Mason & Ireland Big Show Poker Tournament was held at the Normandie Casino; and I was privileged to be among the 200 participants in the no-limit hold'em tournament. With a $25,000-guaranteed first prize, the no-limit hold'em event was held to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a large portion of the prize pool being donated to help those living with the crippling disease. Sponsored by Newcastle Brown Ale. the event was organized by VIPPoker. (ESPN Radio 710 is also the "Home of Angels Baseball.")
I have utmost respect for Roy Cooke, the erudite Senior Columnist for Card Player magazine. And I appreciated his comments when we served sidebyside as panelists at the World Poker Players Conference last November at the Bellagio/Las Vegas. Furthermore, I treasured his advice in his column,"Hold'em StartingHand Basics," in the June 18, 2004 issue of Card Player. He wrote:"The biggest moneylosing mistake . . .
I regard highly skilled poker players as PokerSharks; but most players are PokerPigeons. Among the latter are two categories that stand out: maniacs and calling-stations. The latter are players who call all bets no matter what. . . They rarely raise but they hate to fold - ideal opponents if your goal is to win money ($$$), although you should never try to bluff out a calling-station. Maniacs go one step beyond.