"What are you doing this weekend, Joe?" Hobby asked.
I try to keep up the semblance of being a writer. "I'm working on a story. What's up?"
"It's the annual Avalon Poker Run. I signed you up; we can bring the girls along, too."
I agreed. Inviting Kim- with whom I am seriously behind in brownie points after forgetting our last date-may get me back in her good graces. She asked if she could show off her new bikini. I readily concurred; too bad if others were jealous.
Let me ask you two questions. First, are you a winning player? Second, how do you know? If someone tells me she's a winning player, I expect her to be able to back it up with evidence... cold, hard proof. I expect to see data sheets and printouts, or at least hand-scrawled entries in a notebook, indicating her performance and results in every session she's ever played since, ah, well, the dawn of time.
Can I make a rule? It's a simple one: if you don't know anything about poker, don't write an alleged humor piece about it. Really, what the hell is "He was short-stacked, so I raised with nothing but a bumpy melinda and a bullet" supposed to mean?
Last time I listed some ways I'm dumb at poker, and asked you to do the same. Well, did you? If not, it may not be because you're lazy. It may be rather that you're afraid: afraid to confront yourself openly and honestly. But it doesn't hurt. Truly it doesn't. Let me show you what I mean as I finish listing the principal ways I'm dumb at poker.
Setting up the Bluff
Successful bluffing involves, usually, a combination of ingredients to be successful. Ideally, you'd want to have some value to your hand, some possibility that your hand might improve on future cards, timid and tight opponents, and good scare cards. But I'm not going to focus on any of those items in this column. Instead, I'm going to look at something less tangible - something you can't touch - but something that is ultimately very important and something you can actually do something about. I'm going to look at your image in the mind of your opponent.
How often have you had a pocket pair before the flop and wondered whether they were worth playing. Let's look at three pocket pairs and you are in middle position with each of these: [2s][2h].
The next two 4 cards working together charts below are the results for A-5 and A-6 with a pair.
Not much difference between this chart and the one for A-4. Another 6 combinations or 41.8% of the total are now in the red. Still only 3 NS combinations are profitable but there is a shift from A-5-Q-Q jumping from a loss of $0.19 to a profit of $2.16 from last time. A lesser swing occurred turning the A-5-3- 3 from a positive $1.01 to a negative of $0.13.
If someone tells you they're smarter than you, they're not. If they were, they'd know not to tip you off to that fact, thus putting you on your guard. This is true in poker, and also true in life where, at minimum, you don't want people to think they're not as smart as you if for no other reason than it may make them feel grumpy and insecure, and then not give you what they want.
When I phoned Barbara Fielder Prather on September 9 to interview her, it just happened to be her 62nd birthday. Barbara was born in Center, Texas and graduated high school in Houston, Texas in 1961. After high school Barbara enrolled in business college to further her education. When she graduated from business college she took a position with a Houston bank. She left her banking position to take a job with the Dentler Potato Chip Company.
Last weekend Greg and I experienced the WPT Boot Camp in Hollywood, Florida, at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and Hotel. We'll share our boot camp adventure in a later article. For now, the WPT Boot Camp is a must for poker players who want to improve their tournament skills and have aspirations of reaching the final table.