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.
There were many intriguing issues raised by my column entitled, "Legal? Immoral? or Just Tricky?"-including:
• Should cards ever be retrievable from the muck?
• Should a liar be reprimanded or punished?
The usual rule is that once a player's hole cards touch the muck, his hand is dead-out of play, and that player is no longer competing for the pot.
I have never received so many comments as for my column entitled "Legal? Immoral? Or Just 'Tricky'?" in the March 30 issue of PPN. The prize was awarded to James Pecora of Las Vegas. But I thought others deserved to be recognized too. Most put considerable thought into their responses. I'll share some with you.
Recall: Jim had called Jill on the river, and then mucked his hand when Jill declared that she had a straight. Then, another player asked to see Jill's hand. Guess what: She did NOT have a straight! Jim would have won the pot if only he had shown his hand.
It was a loose $3-$6 limit game at the Normandie Casino in Gardena, Calif. I had been at the table for about a half-hour. The poker gods had not yet smiled on me. Then I looked down at my hole cards: A-Q suited! Perhaps my luck was about to change. With a little good luck, perhaps I might be able to build-and win-a big pot. In an early position, I just called the blind. Four opponents stayed to see the flop:
My Hole Cards: Ad-Qd
The Flop: As-6d Qs
The Turn: 6s
There is a wide range of personal traits represented by each of the nine players at the hold 'em table. Multiplied by the plethora of possible situations as the cards are dealt out and placed on the board, it is not surprising that the unusual happens frequently. Here is a case in point.
One of my poker students, Jim, was in a late position with A-10 of spades in a low-limit game. He and three others stayed to see the flop:
Jim's Hole Cards: As-10s; The Flop: 10c-Qd-5s