Marcus Tullius Cicero, the ancient Roman statesman and philosopher who died in 43 BC, is credited with introducing the concept:“Cuiusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare.” Translation from the Latin: “Anyone can err, but only the fool persists in his fault.”
We all make mistakes now and then. Usually they are inadvertent. Hopefully we will learn from these mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are surprising—unexpected—and should not have happened. Byron Ziman, one of the members of our Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group (who is credited for introducing us to the idea of “tainted outs”) brought to my attention a conspicuous error by a top-rated poker celebrity, published in a column in a poker magazine. Apparently, the celebrity, who has won many poker bracelets in tournaments and often has been said to claim he is the best poker player in the world, made an eye-catching error. Oh, well, we are only human.
Have you ever asked yourself: ‘Why do I play poker?” Whether or not we admit it, most play the game for recreation, with the money we win as a measure of success. But there is more to it than that.
Hands like these don’t happen often; that makes them all the more significant and memorable, especially when you are on the winning end of a HUGE pot.
The meeting of the Board of Directors of our engineering society finished early so I decided to drive over to the Hollywood Park Casino, just a few miles away. The first table was not to my liking, so I changed tables. Nevertheless, despite having been successful with several Esther Bluffs where I won four and lost 1, I was a bit behind when I was dealt K-Q of hearts in the hole:
In a horse race, every horse is rated based on its chance of coming in first in competition with other horses in that race. The favorite is the horse with the lowest odds against it. So a 2-to-1 shot is a big favorite over a long shot that’s 10-to-1. This is reflected in the payoff. That’s why many who gamble on the horse races prefer to bet on long shots. The payoff is greater. The more horses in the race, the less likely it is that the favorite crosses the finish line ahead of its opponents. It’s similar in poker. Your hand may be favored before the flop against each of your opponents individually, but the more opponents involved in the hand, the less likely you are to win. It’s common, in fact, for a hand to be favored over every other hand individually, yet be an underdog when considered against a full field of opponents collectively.
Believing I had created the Poker Labs concept, I was surprised to read that the WPT Boot Camp includes “hands-on labs.” Why did I introduce the Poker Labs into my poker classes at the Claude Pepper Senior Center in Los Angeles?
If you never use deception in playing poker, you are not likely to be a winner. Without deception, your opponents are better able to read you. They soon learn that you hold a strong hand whenever you bet or raise. With that information, it is easier for them to make wise decisions about betting, folding, or raising against you.
Bluffing is the most common form of deception. The idea, of course, is to convince your opponents that you hold the best hand so they fold hands that likely were better than yours, or release drawing hands that might have improved enough to win the pot if you hadn’t bluffed them out. How often you bluff is a matter of judgment and depends on your assessment of your opponents and the immediate situation.
“Tricky!” was the title of my column in the August 30, 2010 issue of Poker Player Newspaper. We received many comments from readers about that column. And there were a number of clever names for the “tricky” play described in the column.
It’s always rewarding to get well thought out comments on my columns in Poker Player Newspaper. There were several good comments from readers about my column on “Losing With the Second-Nut Flush” in the October 25 issue. Most noteworthy was the e-mail from Tony Townsend of Lakewood, Colorado. He goes by the tag “Sizz in Blackhawk,” where he plays most of his poker. Judging from his comments, I’ll bet Tony is a winner.
The game of poker is much like a play performed on a stage. There are many analogies between performing in a play in a theater and playing poker.
The king-high flush is often referred to as the second-nut flush. Assuming a straight flush isn’t possible, and there is no pair on the board, only the ace-high flush can top it. It is a powerful hand but can lose more often than you might think.
We’ve all been exposed to foolish arguments about what percentage of poker is skill versus luck? Frankly, that discussion has no real meaning. It’s a waste of time. More important is to understand that poker skill—proficiency and talent—can help you to get luckier.