Become a winner not a whimmer

Become a winner not a whimmer

August 22, 2017 3:00 AM


What’s a “whimmer,” you might ask. To start, a whim is a sudden desire or change of mind, especially one that has no logical explanation.

You have probably heard the expression, “He did it on a whim…”  It’s an impulse or notion that may suddenly come to mind. On occasion, it can happen to any of us, even while seated at the poker table. So, a “whimmer” is a player who makes a sudden decision that may well be contrary to his normal mode of playing his hand in such a situation.

For example, playing limit Texas hold’em, a decent player would ordinarily fold 4-5 offsuit from an early position. He probably wouldn’t even play those holecards from a late position. But suddenly, for no explainable reason, he gets the notion to stay to see the flop – even with only two opponents staying in the hand.

Lo and behold, believe it or not, the flop comes down 2-3-6 offsuit, giving him a small straight. Incredible! But it can happen. He did it on a whim and it paid off – in capital letters. That leads him to play more recklessly; and, the consequences are what you might expect: He goes home a big loser for the evening.

I was discussing a whim I had to stay to see the flop with holecards that did not satisfy my Hold’em Algorithm, when “something told me” to call the big blind and see the flop. I resisted the urge.

Can you guess what happened? The flop would have given me the nuts! I told my poker buddy, Byron Ziman, about it. A big smile came to his face. Without hesitation he said, “if you play on the whim, then you become a ‘whimmer’” – and then he added, “whimmers are not winners.”

To digress a bit, I should add that Byron is not only an excellent poker player, but also a very creative person. He was the one who coined the term “tainted out” for a card that may improve your drawing hand, but help an opponent even more so. Of course, I have high regard for his words, and listen carefully.

Getting back to the subject at hand, since we cannot control the cards dealt out on the board, it is quite conceivable there will be times a very poor starting-hand turns into a monster – even the nuts. How many times have I observed that the cards I just mucked would have turned into monsters on the flop? You probably have experienced that, too.

Does that mean we made a mistake by folding those holecards before the flop? No way! It was the wise decision – the smart way to play those holecards. I use the Hold’em Algorithm. There are also pertinent tables and charts available in other books.

You might ask, “Why so?” Like it or not, poor holecards make poor starting-hands. With eight other players at that table, catching a powerful hand on the flop with such “unplayable” holecards is a huge longshot. It would be a terrible investment on your part. More likely (one out of three times), if your hand does improve, you will pair up one of your two holecards.

It’s just as likely one or more of your opponents will also catch a pair; but his pair is much higher than yours. It can only cost you chips from then on. Sure, you could make trips after the flop; but you only have two outs. So the odds are about 11-to-1 against it. And, even if you got lucky and matched up your small pair on the turn or river, your opponent has just as much chance of making higher trips. Costly, to say the least!

No matter how tempting, don’t let a whim influence your judgement. Don’t become a whimmer. In Byron Ziman’s own words, “Whimmers are not winners!”