Recently I came into an event at the Los Angeles Poker Classic determined to start out slow and easy... "take the temperature of the table," as I described it to myself. Yeah, that was my plan, but I'm such a pumpkin that within fifteen minutes I had drained away half my stack on a bunch of reckless adventures and hazardous bluffs. That's what happens when you take the temperature of the table using a rectal thermometer shoved up your own butt.
Last time we were talking about some things we know to be true about online poker play. Since then, the online poker landscape has suffered yet another tectonic shift with the arrest of two Neteller executives and this reliable cash conduit to online play subsequently sinking beneath the waves. Yet online poker continues to be played, and while you can still log in and cash out, here are a few more truths of the game you would do well to keep in mind.
Those who know me well know this: I have trouble keeping my mind on anything - even poker - for any length of time. I long ago discovered that the one thing I want to do more than anything is more than one thing at once. The mind wanders. Oh how the mind does wander. Now there's really nothing wrong with a wandering mind, but a mind that wanders away from the poker table is at risk for losing money, and that's not good.
I have no problem with self-indulgence, except when it comes to poker, where the point of the game is to play well, not to feel good. You want examples? Can you stand to stare them in the face?
Emotional intelligence, loosely speaking, is your awareness of your awareness. Poker players with high emotional intelligence are able to assess their strengths and weaknesses frankly and honestly, with acceptance, and without freaking out. To test your emotional intelligence, I'm going to present you with a number of poker situations and ask you two questions:
Has this ever been you?
How did you feel at the time?
To make the most of this quiz, just answer truthfully and write your answers down. Shine a light on your inner life; that's how emotional intelligence grows.
If you have an adventurous spirit, you can look for profitable opportunities in no-limit hold'em by taking cheap flops with speculative holdings and hitting the sort of (granted, infrequent) monster flops that create big action and let you take some unsuspecting slackjaw off his stack. Make no mistake, these junk calls can be hazardous to your health, but if you're in the right kind of game, one with lots of callers and few raisers, they can be profitably played.
Here's a little item I recently spotted in that bastion of hard news in America, USA Today:
PREDATORS PREFER DIMWITTED PREY Chimps and large predatory cats are more likely to target dimwitted prey less capable of escaping attack, a new study reports.
The researchers focused on predators from Africa and South America such as chimpanzees, jaguars, leopards and pumas.
To determine whether these hunters were biased towards certain types of prey, the scientists compared how often a prey species appeared in the wild with how often it turned up in the diets of the predators.
A while back, we were talking about different types of bluffs. Here's another one for you consideration, one that relies on a phenomenon known as applied luck. Applied luck is not quite the same as general, or garden-variety, luck, which just amounts to running good or running bad. To enjoy applied luck is to receive the right hand at the right time, in a confluence of cards, image, and recent history. This harmonic convergence adds up to an excellent bluffing opportunity.
NAME OF BLUFF: CAUGHT STEALING -- AND STEALING AGAIN
We talked last time about the sublime beauty of the bluff, especially one that's strategically derived from the harmonic convergence of our image, our foes' tendencies, and the grand larceny in our hearts. Let's look at another targeted bluff now.
NAME OF BLUFF: LOOSY IN THE SKY (WITH NOTHING)
YOUR IMAGE: You have a loose image. If you're the sort of player who gets involved in a lot of hands, your opponents won't credit you with much of anything when you jump into the pot. That's okay; their own perception of your looseness will cause them to lay down like ducks.
It often happens that our image dictates our strategy. If we're perceived as tight, we can exploit that perception and steal the occasional pot; if we're thought of as loose, we can get them to pay off our monsters. Poker, then, is often a delicate dance between who we are and who we seem to be. It is through the filter of this dance that I would like now to examine a bluff of a certain type, an image-dependent bluff, if you will. It is a bluff, moreover, intended to victimize certain types of players, and specifically targeted against them.