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?
Poker is a game of decisions. Make the right decisions and you will be a winner in the long run. But, when there are decisions to be made, mistakes are often made. We're only human. Mistakes may be momentary gaffes-blunders that are avoidable, missteps where you just take a wrong step, slip-ups, or errors in judgment. Perhaps the worst mistake a poker player can make is oversight-a failure to notice something that could be important. It may well be inadvertent, but it's avoidable-and often costly.
Is there such a thing as a lucky seat at the poker table? That's the seat at the table that is fortunate enough to be blessed with winning hands more than its fair share of the time.
Well San Diego Poker Player Newspaper reader Allison "Wonderland" Johnson makes a strong, albeit somewhat emotional, case for the concept of the lucky seat. She has developed her Personal Poker Play Pattern-abbreviated "Quad Ps" or "PPPP."
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.