While playing low-limit hold 'em at the Hustler Casino, it seemed that most players did not use the concept of pot odds and card odds in making key decisions. Perhaps as a consequence, most of them went home losers, so I thought it appropriate to share my perception of this important-and somewhat confusing-concept with you.
I don't blame you if you doubted my claim that you can successfully bluff in low-limit games. After all, so many poker experts have shouted loud and clear: "You can't bluff in low-limit games!" Well, I told you that these experts were dead wrong. My bluffs succeed in games as low as $3-$6 limit, and work for me more than 60 percent of the time-where break-even is 20-30 percent. So bluffing is a significant part of my winnings.
Wow! was my reaction while reading the Sept. 14 issue of Poker Player Newspaper. No wonder PPN is the most widely read poker publication. (This is proven by the fact that, of the many poker publications for which I have written over the years, the responses from readers to my columns in PPN far exceed all the others!)
Each column had important information that most poker players seek: How to be a better, more profitable player. Here's my comments on some of the columns that make the issue so WOW!!!
My first book, The Greatest Book of Poker for WINNERS!, explains four basic rules for winning at poker. Rule No. 1 deals with goals and money management-tactics for preserving your winnings at each session. Certainly if you win every session, you will be a winner over the long run. Besides, it's always more fun going home a winner. My book describes two money management techniques-one that I use and one that my co-author Dr. Dan Abrams prefers. Both are similar and can help you to avoid losing back all your winnings when you are ahead.
All games of poker are not alike. At our Claude Pepper Senior Center Poker Lab, we were discussing the Four Basic Rules for Winning at the Game of Poker (reference: The Greatest Book of Poker for WINNERS) that distinguish consistent winners from losers. Basic Poker Rule No. 2, concerning game selection, led to some lively discussion.
For several hours, you have been playing limit hold 'em in your friendly neighborhood casino. It's a good game, with lots of loose players and not too much pre-flop raising. That's what you like. But you have been losing. You took a nice pot on your second hand at the table when you caught a straight flush against another player who made an ace-high flush. Wow! You thought. This is going to be a winning night.
Poker players love to see an ace in the hole. Any ace is good! Well, not really. The ace is the top card in the deck; no card is higher. So it's understandable that a poker player gets a warm, fuzzy feeling when he turns up the corner of his first hole card and sees an ace.
How can you increase your winnings in low-limit hold 'em? What's the secret? Sure, the more hands you win, the more likely you will be a winner at that session. Also the more successful your bluffs, the more money you expect to win. But that's not the whole story. The fact is the most money I ever won in one session was when both of my bluff attempts failed. I didn't read my opponents or their hands well enough; so in both instances, they called my bluff-although I still average over two successful bluffs out of every three attempts using the Esther Bluff tactic.
Recall my column, Legal? Immoral? or Just Tricky? In the March 30 issue, Jim called Jill on the river. Jill announced she had a straight. Jim mucked his hand. Another player asked to see Jill's hand. Guess what. She did not have a straight! Jim would have won the pot had he shown his hand.
In response, Robert, an attorney in Cincinnati, Ohio shares his two key poker rules, commenting: "Your student might know strategy and odds, but it's also important that he know the rules."
In life and in poker, rules guide us and help us to avoid trouble. But there are always exceptions. No rule can consider every conceivable situation. Sometimes you must use your "better judgment" and make an exception.