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
How often have you heard: "No one can bluff in limit Hold 'em." Well, I am here to tell you:
YOU CAN WIN BY BLUFFING EVEN IN LOW-LIMIT HOLD'EM.
And I can prove it. While playing in a $3-$6 limit game the other night, I tried nine bluffs during the six hours I played. I was successful in seven of my nine attempts. A few days later, I attempted four bluffs during a seven hour session of $3-$6. All were successful. Indeed, winning bluffs have become a significant part of my win statistics, helping me to go home a winner.
Poker is a game of information. The more you have, the better decisions you can make-to your advantage. A great, albeit usually neglected, source of information is available from your own results during a session. Examine the data related to your winning and losing hands: How many you win or lose at the showdown, how many you win without a showdown, and bluffing results. Let's discuss this topic.
Strategies and tactics are important in winning poker. A strategy is a plan of action to achieve a goal; a tactic is how you pursue that plan. To be a winner at hold 'em, an essential skill is understanding and using appropriate strategies and tactics. Players are prone to concentrate on the strategies, while neglecting the equally important tactics. The success of your strategy often depends on the effectiveness of your tactics.
One of my students, Jim, is a consistent winner in low-limit hold 'em. Recently, while playing $3-$6 limit at a local casino, he was accused of greed.
In a recent column, I told you about Poker Player Newspaper reader Allison "Wonderland" Johnson's lucky seat theory. She believes there is one seat at the table that is fortunate to be blessed with winning hands much more than its fair share of the time.
I had been playing for about four hours in a $4-$8 hold 'em game at a local casino and not doing well. I was on my second buy-in at a loose table with lots of poker pigeons. With a little luck, I was sure I could make up for my losses and go home a winner. Sound familiar?
In the big blind, I was dealt 7-4 off-suit. The under-the-gun player to my left raised and I was thinking about folding. But when five other opponents called his raise, giving me pot odds of about 13-to-1, I decided it was worth another small bet to see the flop. You never know what the flop will bring.
Professionalism is "the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person," according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. In the game of poker, what then distinguishes a professional from a non-professional?