If I told you that one of the keys to poker success is to make good calls, you'd just yawn and say, "Who didn't know that."
Well, what if I told you that one of the keys to poker success was to make bad calls? You wouldn't yawn then, would you?
Well, that's what I'm telling you. My column today is about how to make bad calls profitably. It's actually a lecture that I delivered years ago on the Internet.
And, by the way, I'm not just talking about making calls with hands that are likely to lose, but the pot's so darn big you've just got to do it. I'm talking about something else.
Sometimes I like to call people idiots. Not to their face, because that might make them mad. Not behind their backs, because that would be beneath my dignity. So, I settle for calling them idiots in my imagination.
I'm usually angry when this happens, but I get over it quickly, and then I regret hurting their imaginary feelings. Like today. Right now I'm mad because some otherwise- intelligent experts keep diminishing the importance of psychology in poker. They say image doesn't matter much.
What can you say about the flop in hold 'em? There are few things in poker as suspenseful. The whole fate of your hand usually hinges on what those three cards will look like when the dealer turns them face up.
It's fun watching flops. Indeed.
That's why I'm asking you not to get mad at me when I ask you not to do it. You see, looking at the flop at the moment it hits the felt is the last thing you want to do if you expect to maximize your hold 'em profit. I'm going explain this concept the same way I did years ago in a lecture. Here it is...
If you want to get a casual poker player confused in a hurry, just talk about "value betting." There isn't even a universal definition of what it means, so you're free to make up your own. Here's mine: A value bet is a risky wager designed to extract every penny's worth of profit from opponents.
You should take pride in playing poker profitably. Take pride in making good calls. Take pride in having discipline. Take pride in bringing good manners to the table. The list of things you can be proud of in poker can be very long.
But sometimes being proud of bluffing can be a dangerous thing. In fact, you can bluff yourself right out of a bankroll, all the while being convinced that you're doing the right thing. It's a great illusion.
Four years ago I delivered a lecture explaining it. I called it "The mistake of monitoring bluffs." I'd like to share it with you today.
I confess. I've possibly caused a lot of poker players to go broke. It's the truth and I'm not happy about it.
Years ago, I sat down with myself and examined my poker-playing life. It was 1978 or so, shortly after I'd contributed my section on five-card draw poker to Doyle Brunson's original Super/System - A Course in Power Poker. That changed my life. Before that I had greedily guarded my poker secrets, refusing to share them with opponents. Giving away poker secrets seemed stupid.
Figuring it out yourself
Let's move on to secrets about calling in poker. I'm frustrated, though. How come? It's because two weeks ago I told you about a flaw in most tournaments that make it impractical to play your best game. I provided a solution. Well, guess what? The World Series of Poker didn't change the way they'd structured their final event, even though I provided four days notice. Poker's biggest tournament went off as planned.
So, maybe next year. I've said what I had to say, and I'm glad.
I know. I've talked about today's topic before. It's World Series of Poker time, so maybe it's the season to think about repairing poker tournaments.
Why repair them? Because, they're a disaster. Yes, I realize that they're more popular than ever. I realize that most are competently managed and unfold smoothly. So, maybe "disaster" wasn't the right word. Let me think. Wait...
Here is the true story of how government got involved in gambling. This article first appeared several years ago in a general gambling publication, and it remains one of my favorites. With all the clamor about controlling gambling today, online and in the real world, I thought this would be an appropriate time to share this with my Poker Player readers. It's mostly intact, although I've changed a few words here and there, because I sometimes like to polish.
While I occasionally talk about overcalling, nothing drives home my teachings about the fundamental peril of that tactic better than an audio lecture I did years ago. It's one of the lessons you need to master to reach the higher tiers of poker profit.
Oh, I almost forgot to remind you. Soon I'll be making my lectures available at three web sites: Poker1.com, PokerPlayerNewspaper.com, and DoylesRoom.com. I hope you'll get the chance to visit me there.