by "Oklahoma" Sarah Hale
My success in poker has largely been based around key lessons I have learned from my father, “Oklahoma” Johnny Hale, who is a world champion. If you adapt these important lessons or at least your own version of them, your game will improve and you can take the money on home and count it there! I have broken down the top ten most important rules that I try to live by when I play poker, or as I call it, “work poker!” Poker is best played under certain conditions when you play to win.
1. Don’t play when you’re angry. This may sound silly but it is by far the most important rule I’ve learned from my dad. You should never play when you’re upset because you’re more likely to have your mind elsewhere and lose focus. You also won’t be your most likable, approachable self, which is an important factor in poker. When you’re angry your style of play may change and you might make poorer reads or moves than you usually would.
2. Don’t play in a time crunch. You never want to play poker under pressure. You need plenty of time to think through your decisions accurately and logically, and at your own pace. Playing against the clock may lead to impatient plays that will harm your bankroll. You may force things to try to happen instead of allowing the cards to find you naturally.
3. After playing a tournament, rethink playing cash games or play at very low limits. Tournaments and cash games are very different. Sometimes tournaments get you wound very tight and dictate that you play a certain style in order to cash or maintain a position to cash. After playing under certain constraints, many players want to run free and get their gamble out. In the process, they dump off lots of cash.
4. Decide whether you’re playing for entertainment or profit. I recommend playing for profit at all times, although on some occasions I like to stray from my usual no limit games to play a little low limit Omaha/8 for fun. Of course I’m trying to learn at the same time, but mostly it’s just nice to go out and have a little fun outside of my usual confines of no-limit. So sometimes it’s OK to play for fun. Just make sure you keep it to one small buy in and make sure it’s fun!
5. Only bring what you are willing to lose and don’t use ATM cards or credit cards. Bringing anything that allows you to access more than your pre-set poker bankroll usually won’t lead to anything good. If for some reason it’s necessary to go beyond your pre-set amount, it’s always good to take a ride home and think about it. More often than not that short time will allow you to reassess and make sure whether it’s a good idea, or not.
OK Sarah’s Tip Since my column is laden with enough tips, I leave you with two of my favorite quotes. The first is by Christopher Morley, which I’ve adapted to fit poker. “There are three ingredients in the good life, yearning, learning and earning.” If you yearn to be a better player by forcing yourself to learn more about the game then you will earn more and be a success!
Another great quote for poker that I strive to live by comes from Harry S. Truman. “In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves. Self-discipline with all of them came first.” Until next time, I am OK Sarah and I always
You may contact Sarah and OK-J at Oklajohnny@aol.com . Visit Oklahoma Sarah and Oklahoma Johnny at their website — www.OKJohnny.com.