Popular sayings people use and its relation to poker

Popular sayings people use and its relation to poker

January 09, 2018 3:00 AM


My recent column resulted in several additional popular sayings that apply to the game of poker. Tom, who had read the column online, suggested this one: “Every cloud has a silver lining.”

Food for thought there. I discussed it over the phone with my friend Lucy, who had first suggested the idea to me of a column about popular sayings applicable to the game of poker – while we enjoyed lunch at Canter’s Deli on Fairfax. Recall?

Tom did not offer any specific examples, so before contacting Lucy I did my research. According to Wikipedia, “a silver lining is a metaphor for optimism… which means every negative occurrence has a positive aspect to it.” How might this apply to the game of poker? The dark cloud represents the gloom after being rivered and losing a monster pot. The silver lining is to remind you it could just as well go the other way next time. You catch the card that gives you the best hand and wins the pot.

As you play poker, you are bound to encounter many such instances. Sure, it always hurts to lose a big pot, especially when your opponent puts a bad beat on you. He got lucky. But remember, good luck runs both ways. Sooner or later – preferably sooner – you will be the recipient of the good luck. It may not seem that way at the moment, especially when you seem to be stuck in a bad-luck snake pit.

The laws of probability are sacred; eventually it will even out. Have patience.

On that note, Lucy offered a great suggestion: “Obviously,” she said, “you cannot control the cards – nor can the dealer (don’t blame her for your bad luck), but you can influence how your opponent plays his hand.”

She paused a moment or two, then continued: “What if you had bet out – better yet, raised before that opponent who later rivered you; do you think that player might have mucked his cards?”

I interrupted, “Of course, Lucy, that would be the way to play it; thin the field. I’ll remember that the next time I am in this situation. It’s bound to happen.”

Then Lucy added, “Of course there may be situations when raising might be the wrong way to play that hand. But all in all, it certainly is a viable option to seriously consider.” I fully agreed.

A few days later, Lucy called me to tell me, the other da, she was discussing this popular saying with a wise old man everyone calls “Sam,” with whom she often plays hold’em at the casino. “He’s one of those rare persons who always seems to be a winner; so, I much respect his advice,” she explained.

Sam suggested: “Straighten up and fly right!” But he altered it to read, “Hurry up and fly right.” Sam explained: “Even though I served in the Air Force during World War II and always tried to ‘fly right,’ I first learned this saying when I was in my early teens and my teacher reprimanded me for my behavior in class. It has stuck with me over the years.

“When you experience a series of losses, waste no time – hurry up – to figure out what needs to be changed so you can perform better – as soon as possible,” he recommended. “Win! Don’t lose!”

Lucy told Sam that it was not easy for her to figure out what change to make, then and there, “in the heat of battle.” (By golly, that’s another popular saying!) Sam replied: “So make note of it, and think it over on your way home from the casino. Or, you can always discuss it with me or some of your other poker friends.” Good advice.

As I said before, 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.