Carol, I know that you like it when I tell you that the math of poker is easy, and that anyone who can count to four can be a good poker player.
Aces and Kings: Inside Stories and Million Dollar Strategies from Poker's Greatest Players
by Michael Kaplan and Brad Reagan
Wenner Books 2005, 281 pp
America's greatest independent film producer, Samuel Goldwyn, was an immigrant. Although semiilliterate and only able to speak coarse English, he made movies that spoke to the spirit and values of 20th Century America.
Schmuel Gelbfisz was the oldest of six children of a desperately poor Jewish family living in a Warsaw ghetto. When his father died at 43, the fifteen-year-old decided it was time to escape his prison of poverty.
"The only place I wanted to go was America", he recalled years later, because "I heard...about how people were free in America."
Imagine the following scenario. You've flopped the top two pair. Your mind is racing as you size-up your opponents' chip stacks and position, trying to calculate the precise amount you will bet. With two hearts on the board, you are afraid that a flush may take "your" pot away if you allow the turn to be seen for a cheap price. When you get a caller to your sizable bet, you begin to assume that you do have a foolish fish on the line that is chasing the heart draw.
It was a mixed year for Europeans at the 2005 WSOP, and one which promised much in the early stages, peaked in the middle and almost delivered a dream ending. Devilfish made an excellent showing in the opening $1,500 No Limit Hold'em, finishing third for £232,205 from 2305 runners, Martin Green of Ireland was only one spot worse in the $1,500 Pot Limit Hold'em the next day, getting $88,680 for fourth from 1071 runners.
I was there. You know what I'm talking about already - the final event at this year's World Series of Poker with 5,619 players paying $10,000 apiece, forming a prize pool of over $52 million. Although I was warned to expect to see over 5,000 players, I still wasn't prepared for the faceto- face encounter. The first stage of the tournament was spread over three days, each accommodating about 1,900 players and close to 200 tables. With that many players and their friends, spouses, and family - not to mention press and staff - you have the makings of rough sailing.
Was it a mere coincidence - or what? Was it a self-fullfilling or pre-ordained prophesy? Whatever. . . It was almost eerie! Could the fact that it was Friday the thirteenth have anything to do with it?
If you play poker for a while, you'll eventually hear the term "bad beat." Now, really, is there any beat that's good? Bad beats usually happen when someone stays in longer than the odds say that they should. Bad beats happens when top pair or top two pairs get beaten by a flush or trips on the river. People with the best hand will suddenly have a second best hand because a player stayed in against all odds.
The two visitors to my local card room over the Memorial Day weekend always sat together and always played $4-8 Hold'Em. Young and vocal, they disparaged the others' play, especially when someone ran them down. Quite certain of their superior abilities at low-limit Hold'Em, and proud of it, they used words like 'idiot,' 'simpleton,' and 'dolt,' to describe their fellow competitors.