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Seniors’ Scene - Readers Response: More Poker Aphorisms

By George “The Engineer” Epstein

Recall: An aphorism is a concise and usually witty or humorous statement of wisdom or opinion. We offered a few that would apply to the game of poker: “It’s more fun to win;” “Win or lose, it’s how you play the game that counts;” and “Learn from your mistakes.”

Responding to our column on poker aphorisms in the Sept. 3 issue of PPN, Mike Brehm, a recent retiree (he was an optician for forty years) offered two fascinating ones.

He created this aphorism from scratch; it got me to pondering over its message:

“Only with clouds come the prettiest sunsets.”

Actually, it’s from a poem he had written about his grandmother, entitled “90 Something.” (I can relate to that, as I will soon reach that mark.) This aphorism cleverly illustrates the need for patience as you wait for decent starting-hands and avoid going on tilt after suffering a bad beat or two.

Then, he quotes an aphorism coined by William Hazlitt (English writer, essayist, literary critic and philosopher; 1778–1830) that could well pertain to poker:

“Actors are the only honest hypocrites.”

Mike leaves it to you and me to decide how that one relates to the game. (Yes, it sure does!)

As you can see, Mike has quite a sense of humor. An Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War, he lives in Morgantown, WV, where he plays in a weekly home game -- including two doctors and six other professionals. Occasionally he drives to the Mountaineer Casino in Nemacolin, PA, to play hold’em.

Nick Kalfas of Dunnellton in central Florida, offered this aphorism, with which I heartedly agree:

“It’s not just what you win, but what you don’t lose, that makes a winning session”

Obviously, if you lose more than you win, you will go home a loser. How can you best avoid those big losing hands? Think about it. . .

Nick often plays at the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, FL. There is also a local poker room where he plays on occasion. Once a month, he enjoys a home game. “It’s a dealer’s choice high-low game,” but he prefers Texas hold’em. He is semi-retired, working part time as a consultant to several small businesses, helping them in their accounting functions.

Mike and Nick have well earned a copy of my book, Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision. A signed copy has been mailed to each.

One More. . .

And, here’s one from a rather well-known poker player/author who prefers to be anonymous. (You would probably recognize his name if I told you.)

“Talk is cheap. Action speaks louder than words.”

My interpretation: When we play poker, our words do matter. For example, if you announce “raise,” you are obligated to actually put the chips into the pot. But, far more important are the actions you make. You must decide whether to fold, call or raise – or reraise as the hand is played out. When looking for tells, observe your opponents’ actions before, during, and after he acts. Bear in mind that his words may be designed to deceive you. Actions speak louder than words!

By the way
You might be interested in knowing that there have been many great aphorism writers in the past, including:
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) – famed Irish playwright, critic, and writer; received Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925; author of Pygmalion in 1912.
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) – highly regarded American poet, short-story writer, critic, satirist and screenwriter (received two Academy Award nominations). She was placed on the Hollywood Blacklist for her left-wing involvements. In 1988, the NAACP erected a plaque in her honor at its headquarters in Baltimore, MD, reading in part: “. . . dedicated to her noble spirit which celebrated the oneness of humankind. . .”


George “The Engineer” Epstein is the author of The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!;  Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision;  and The Art of Bluffing.  He has taught poker at the Claude Pepper Senior Center, at West L.A. College, and to elderly war veterans at the CalVet facility in the VA/West L.A.  George created and organized the Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group.  He was awarded the Senior Citizen Volunteer-of-the-Year Award, in large part for his activities on behalf of senior citizens, and has been elected to the Seniors’ Poker Hall of Fame.


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