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George Epstein

Successful Bluffing Strategy and Tactics

Mike Caro, "The Mad Genius of Poker," is one of my favorite poker celebrities. In fact, his seminars some years ago at the Hollywood Park Casino helped me to become a winner when I first got serious about poker. Indeed, even though I am a good deal older than Mike, I look upon him as my poker mentor, and I believe I am not the only one who regards Mike in such high esteem. I always look forward to his columns in the Poker Player Newspaper. Recently, in connection with a discussion of "random," he examined several issues concerning bluffing.

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If You Had X-Ray Eyes...

If you had X-ray eyes and could see through the backs of your opponent's cards, you would know exactly what he held. But only Superman had that power. You and I-we are mere mortals. So we'll have to be satisfied with the next best thing: Trying to read our opponent's hole cards.

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Jackpot! $$$$$

In the past two years I have won two bad beat jackpots playing hold 'em in local Los Angeles area casinos. Exciting! Rewarding! Sure, I was lucky; the odds must be a gazillion-to-1 against it happening, but, over the long run, it can-and obviously does happen.

The rules and payoffs vary from casino to casino. Typically, you must have aces-full-of-tens or better beaten by four-of-a-kind or better at the showdown, with each player using both of his hole cards in his best five-card hand.

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About Metaphors...

The response to my metaphors-in-poker column (Poker Player Newspaper, June 9) was overwhelming. There were several outstanding contributions from readers for unique poker-related metaphors. One person confused metaphors with similes; many people do that. Even so, the contribution from Nick G. who plays at the Lucky Chances Casino in Colma, Calif., is noteworthy:

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The Esther Bluff: Cognitive Egocentrism

Professor Richard A. Landes, noted historian at Boston University and director of the Center for Millennial Studies, has shown that much of what we accept as fact is often forgery. Landes is probably best known for coining the relevant term "Pallywood"-which stands for "Palestinian Hollywood"-describing staged photographic material that is presented as newsworthy fact when it is actually propaganda.

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Patience is a Virtue; Avoid Tilt

A winning poker player needs a lot of patience. He must be able to wait patiently until a playable hand is deal to him-considering all the factors involved in hand selection. (This is made easier using the Hold'em Algorithm as described in my Hold'em or Fold'em? booklet.) But there is another aspect that we rarely consider: Patience also can help you avoid going on tilt.

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Metaphors in the Game of Poker

I love using metaphors- figures of speech in which a word denoting one thing is used in place of another to suggest a similarity between them. A classic example often cited is, "The ship plowed the sea." Now, a ship doesn't actually plow the sea, but the similarity is quite striking. You get the picture!

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Quads on the Flop!

Playing hold'em, sooner or later you will flop a monster hand, perhaps even four-of-a-kind.

Quads! Oh boy! You expect to win this pot; now your goal is to maximize it. The bigger the pot, the more you win! How? Consider the types of players in the pot and your image-how your opponents perceive you-and use a little psychology and logic.

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A Different Kind of Tell

Poker is a game of information. The more information you glean, the better decisions you'll make while playing a hand.

One viable form of information is called tells. One of my poker heroes, Mike Caro-The Mad Genius of Poker-has made tells a sort of science. In his Book of Poker Tells, Mike defines a tell as "any mannerism that helps you determine the secrets of an opponent's hand."

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The Poker Battle of the Billionaires

Each year, Forbes magazine lists the 400 richest people in the U.S. It's called the Forbes 400. It takes assets of well over $1 billion to qualify. (Yes, that's 1,000 million U.S. dollars!) The average net worth of those on the list was $3.8 billion. There are 82 American billionaires who don't quite measure up. To make the list, you have a better chance if you live in California. Eighty-eight are from the Golden State. Second is New York State, with 73 of the top 400.

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