Real poker players aren't watching sports during games

Mar 7, 2017 3:00 AM

While playing poker at the casino, it is not uncommon to see a player who seems more interested in watching the basketball game on the big TV screen mounted on the wall.

Everyone else at the table is waiting and, obviously, becoming impatient. The dealer, somewhat annoyed, finally gets the boob’s attention to get back to the game. Then the boob quickly picks up his hole cards, glances at them, and tosses them into the muck – as he turns back to watching the basketball game on the TV screen.

That player is a boob; his focus is hardly on the poker game. How can he expect to win many pots when he allows himself to be distracted from the game? Why did he even bother to come to the casino in the first place? I wondered whether he really enjoys playing poker.

Along with paying little attention to the poker game, he delays the game for everyone else – and, apparently, cares little about the rest of us who came to play poker. Yes, we are recreational players, not pros. We don’t depend on poker winnings for our livelihood. And, we realize that we may lose more often than we would like. But, it was with a sigh of relief when I saw the TV-watching boob gather up his chips and leave our table. Good riddance!

As he walked away, our $4-$8 limit hold’em game seemed to spring back to life. And I found myself focusing more on the game and enjoying it more, rather than being annoyed and distracted by that boob. Players were smiling again – even as one got rivered, and lost a big pot. You can just imagine him thinking to himself: “Oh well, that’s poker. Maybe next time, I’ll be the one catching a monster on the river.”

Soon after, I was dealt pocket Kings, and raised preflop from my middle position. Four opponents stayed to see the flop: Q-9-7 rainbow. It didn’t help me, but at least none of the cards were higher than my K-K. I had an overpair to the board, and likely the best hand at that moment. I raised a bet by the Big Blind, hoping to thin the field so my K-K would have a better chance of staying in the lead. Two opponents called to see the turn with me.

The 3 of hearts was no help to me; and, fortunately, it was not a scare card. After it was checked to me, I made the opening bet; only the Big Blind called to see the river with me.

On the river, the 9 of clubs paired the board. Focusing on the board and what hands my opponent might hold, I thought: Now, I have two pair, Kings and 9’s. Straights and flushes were not possible. The only way he could possibly beat me was if he held a 9 in the hole, giving him trip 9’s – possible, but not likely, I rationalized.

Then, when he came out betting, I paused to think: He is a rather deceptive player, likely to try to bluff. I looked for tells; but saw none. So, all things considered – especially the size of the pot – I decided to call. Sure enough, he had hit trips on the river – with just two outs.

My attention was fully on the hand in play; I was focused on the game. But, still I lost that hand. Oh well, that’s poker!

Certainly, it is important to give your full attention to the game. Even when you are not in the hand, observe your opponents, how they play and always look for tells. No matter how well you focus on the game, you cannot control luck (chance). But, in the long run, those who give full attention to the game are much more likely to win than the boobs who are so busy watching the basketball game on the big TV screen mounted on the wall near our table.