Many popular sayings apply so well to poker

Jan 2, 2018 5:09 PM

My friend Lucy raised an interesting issue the other day while we were enjoying a very special lunch at Cantor’s famous deli on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles.

“It occurred to me,” she said, “that there are so many popular sayings we can readily apply to our favorite game of poker.” So we got into a fascinating discussion on this topic while munching on our whopping corned beef sandwiches on rye, served with coleslaw. (You can’t beat it for taste.)

Digressing for the moment…  What is a saying? According to Wikipedia, a saying is any concisely written or spoken linguistic expression that is especially memorable because of its meaning or structure. Now, let’s get back to our story.

Naturally, I asked Lucy to explain popular sayings as applied to poker. “Well, for example,” she said, “there’s an old saying, ‘don’t cry over spilt milk.’ Everyone makes a mistake now and then – hopefully not too often – both in our daily lives as well as at the poker table. ‘Just don’t cry over spilt milk’.”

Yes, I agreed. The key is to “learn from your mistakes.” By golly, that too is a popular saying, I pointed out. I admit I have sometimes failed to learn, and it usually has cost me lots of chips. Then, I promise myself to learn from my mistakes.

Lucy expanded on her “spilt milk” saying: “The other night, I debated calling a big river bet from an aggressive player who had been raising from the start of the hand. I had a decent hand, but his consistent betting/raising led me to believe he had a powerhouse. So, I folded my small two-pair. The player behind me called, and took the pot with a pair of Kings. I would have won that pot, but I allowed myself to be bluffed out.” Then she added, “I was angry at myself, but decided not to ‘cry over spilt milk.’ The hand was over; let’s move on – and don’t let it happen again.”

After a short pause as we savored our sandwiches, I suggested we get back to popular sayings as applied to poker. Lucy nodded, as she sipped her coffee. “Here’s another: ‘Wishful thinking.’ As a hand is played out, like everyone else, I wish and pray for the cards that will make my hand. Occasionally, it does happen.”

Not to be outdone, I offered yet another popular saying that applies oh so well to the game of poker: “Don’t send good money after bad money.” How often, I asked Lucy, have you called a bet on the river, almost certain you have the goods, only to have your hand trounced by an opponent who slow-played against you after catching a monster on the flop? Recently it happened to me. I was so upset, I must admit, I allowed myself to go on tilt.

The very next hand, with K-Q offsuit in the hole, I raised from a middle position, and was called by several opponents. The flop offered me a draw to an inside straight. But there was also an Ace out on the board. I was still upset and (stupidly) raised a tight player who bet out from an early position. Of course, my hand didn’t improve and he took more of my chips as I called on the river. If only I had not allowed myself to go on tilt.

Moral of the story: Don’t send good money after bad money.

Your turn: “If is a big word!” How many times have you noted that you have eight outs to an open-ended straight with the turn and river cards to come, and then said to yourself words to the effect, “If only one of my cards would fall on the board,” and then hoped for the best.

There must be zillions of popular sayings that apply so well to poker. Let me know if you have a favorite? We might share it with other readers.