Great Value: Lord Byron talks truth about poker

Apr 10, 2012 3:00 AM

Byron Ziman is a poker buddy whose words I have learned to respect. Through my columns, he has introduced some fascinating concepts with special rhetorical value for our poker world.

Ziman has also become a member of our illustrious Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group and was among those who enjoyed our day last month when the elegant Normandie Casino in Gardena, Calif., hosted us so splendidly. (Byron even posed a tough question to our poker pros – Marsha Waggoner and Robert "Chipburner" Turner, from which we all learned.

Driving home from the casino that night, Byron came up with a "Grand-Slammer." Plus he had wisely used a form of money management to make sure he went home a winner!

Earlier that evening, he had won lots of chips in a $3-$6 game. Then something changed at the table. So, he explains…

"I kicked myself out – so I wouldn’t have to kick myself later for not kicking myself out!"

A bit of a tongue-twister, but Byron made his point.

EXPLANATION

Byron had enjoyed a huge win at his table earlier that evening. It had been a loose-passive game and luck had been with him as he often connected on the flop. Usually you can get to see many flops for minimum investment (few raises preflop – typical in passive games), and the pot odds become super when you connect on the flop as three or more opponents stay to see the flop – typical in loose games.

Byron was well ahead, but then the table changed its complexion ("texture"). A 180-degree about-face: The game became tight-aggressive – few opponents staying to see the flop, and lots of raising and re-raising.

It became too expensive to stay to see the flop with his drawing hands, especially when the poker gods started to smile on his opponents. Play a while – that’s bound to happen. Poker is an equal-opportunity game.

Being well-schooled in poker strategies and concepts, Byron is poker-savvy enough to have recognized these very significant changes at his table. So, he changed tables.

Unfortunately, the table to which he moved suffered from a similar "malady" – very aggressive, with the emphasis on aggressive raising before the flop. (One or two aggressive players can make the difference!) It so happened, I was at the same table, and had a similar experience, which I will discuss in next week’s column.

Byron was astute enough to quickly recognize the dangers lurking at this table, and soon quit for the night. (I followed shortly afterward, but my fate was not as positive as Byron’s.)

I should note that many poker players delight in playing in loose-aggressive games. It’s exciting to call a multi-raise in a multi-way hand, and flop the nuts! Trouble is, it doesn’t happen very often. The odds are much against you. For example, starting with a middle pair in the hole, you can expect to make a set less than one out of 8.5 flops. The odds are 7.5-to-1 against you.

BOTTOM LINE

You are getting poor poker odds when you have to invest in a raised bet before the flop – unless it’s one of those rare cases when you are dealt a made hand (A-A, K-K, Q-Q). That will happen only one out of about 70 hands!

Be smart like Byron: "I kicked myself out so I wouldn’t have to kick myself later for not kicking myself out!"

George "The Engineer" Epstein, a noted author and poker teacher in West Los Angeles, is a member of the Senior Poker Hall of Fame. He can be reached at [email protected]