Most everyone has heard the old saying that a fool and his money are soon parted. The syndrome in poker that epitomizes this saying is FPS, which stands for Fancy Play Syndrome and was first coined by the prolific poker author, Mike Caro.
In my view, Caro correctly espouses that most times in poker the straight forward play will serve you better than a fancy, complicated play. Players who are prone to choose the fancy play route do it primarily to seek the adoration of their tablemates and hopefully add to their profit. The first reason makes me mildly nauseous when I think about how emotionally needy some people have become, and the hope of additional profit doesn't generally pan out. Of the two main reasons, I disagree with both.
Having said that, I do believe most of us have at one time or another fallen prey to the allure of appearing ever so crafty at the table. Whenever I have allowed my ego to manipulate me, I vow to get back on the straight and narrow. The best way to cure yourself, if you regularly succumb to FPS, is to realize that you are costing yourself money, not making it. Once you have cured yourself of this malady look around to see if any of your opponents seem to be infected with the FPS virus. There might just be some profit in utilizing that knowledge.
The practitioners of FPS really do think they are making world class plays. The main problem with fancy play syndrome is that it is as transparent as glass to some, while to the clueless, it is a complete waste of effort. When you are fortunate enough to spot a fancy play disciple, sit back and begin to count the money ... not yours, but Mr. Fancy Plays. After all, it is only a matter of time before this fool and his money are parted. Hopefully you will get your fair share.
Once you see an opponent make a "cute" move, watch him closely and you should find him to be an actor. All you need do is read the script that he is sending out, either in words or body language, and do the opposite of what he is coaxing you to do. It's really a lot of fun as he will struggle to understand how "dumb" you can be not to be correctly picking up on his "subtle" signals.
In fact, outfoxing him may become easier and easier as he begins to overact in an attempt to make it easier for his opponents to read his less and less subtle clues. By the time he figures out that the only one he is outfoxing is himself, he'll usually be on the rail bemoaning the fact that he lost all his money to a table full of donkeys. Incredibly Mr. Fancy Play, having crashed and burned, will not realize it is he who is the donkey.
Yes, another fool and his money will have been parted. The amazing thing to me is how a fool and his money ever got together in the first place. The fancy play syndrome is alive and well and many a player has been infected by it. Our goal for today is to watch for the symptoms and take advantage of the poor souls whose egos will not allow them to abandon this foolish behavior. Those sick fools just cannot help themselves. Most of all, remember that it can be contagious, so keep your guard up and don't catch it yourself.
See you next "TIME"
Tom "Time" Leonard has played poker in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and California for more than 30 years and written about the game since 1994. Contact Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org.