Scared Money

Players' attitudes towards money will affect their game. Whether they manage their money with their mind or their emotions will have drastic results. Emotions can make or break a good player's game. While playing too tight can make you a target, ignoring intuition can also limit your game. In the end, how you manage your money has its emotional component. Some are scared, others are stupid, while there are those who are silly and those who are smart with their money.

Smart Money Scared Money

Scared Money. We have all heard about how “Scared Money” never wins. In fact, players with short stacks are frequently vulnerable to being attacked when they appear to be scared. After all, one of the moves in a poker game is to scare your opponents into believing that you have their hand beat. You do this by the size and the timing of your bets. The reason that scared money seldom wins is that it’s hard to play your best game when you are worried about leaving broke. However, there’s more to poker than scaring other players or waiting for scared money to arrive.

Stupid Money. When players bet on impossible odds and seem to be throwing their money away they make stupid moves. Mostly these moves come from boredom. Often they come from players who are by nature wanting to live on the edge and are searching for more excitement. Players who are very aggressive, yet play only with their emotions will more often play with stupid money. For example, to both raise bets in poor position and in the dark is usually pretty stupid. That’s what a “live straddle” is-just plain stupid. Oh yes, it increases the excitement and gets money into the pot. However, those who call or raise the straddle bet are the wiser. Playing out of position with cards that have poor odds (e.g., 7, 2 off suit) is also playing with stupid money. However, there are times when betting loosely is more silly than it is stupid.

Silly Money. There are players who play mostly with their intuitions. They are often passive and yet will play on their hunches more than on the value of their hands. Intuition works best when it is applied to people and not so well when it is applied to only the cards. It’s pretty silly to call bets when you know that you are beat. Or, is it just being stubborn? I refer to calling and chasing when you have poor odds as “silly money.” That’s because it might not be silly to throw money into a pond and make a wish; however, tossing loose chips into the pot on a dream is silly and often results in second best hands.

Smart Money. Players who are patient and wait to play good cards are usually spending their money wisely. They will use the cards they have, their knowledge of their opponents, and their position to leverage the most out of their bets. Their bets are seen as investments and their use of money is smart. When they have good cards and think that their position will scare their opponents, they know how to semi-bluff.

In my book, Beyond Tells, I quadrasized players by how structured or emotional they approach the game of poker. I compared this to how passive and how aggressive that they applied their skills and their money. Here’s what applying these traits to the use of money will reveal:

After all is said and done, it’s really impossible to call the use of money as Smart, Stupid, Silly, or scared unless the context of the game and the nature of the other players is taken into account. What looks like stupid could be a chase that has enough pot odds to justify the chase and makes it smart instead of stupid or silly. When the ante is $10K and the blinds are $30K and $60K, suddenly silly becomes smart. Go figure!

Mark Brown
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