Tom needs to learn poker money management

April 12, 2016 3:00 AM


Tom came to our $4-$8 limit hold’em game and was seated across the table from me, whence I had a good view of him and his chips.

Clean shaven and immaculately dressed, Tom took his seat displaying utter confidence – clearly a conservative player with much experience in the game, I thought.

The minimum buy-in was $40. When he bought a full rack – $100 in chips – I decided he probably was an aggressive player, ready to give and take action. He looked familiar. Then, I recalled having played against him a few days earlier.

On that occasion, I remembered he played rather tight, staying to see the flop with decent starting hands. He did quite well – obviously enjoying the game; relaxed and all smiles.

So now, I observed Tom even more carefully than I normally did when a new player joined our table. Unlike the previous occasion, things did not go his way. He entered most hands from the start, and failed to improve along the way. He lost hand after hand.

His original buy-in was almost depleted; he bought another rack of chips. And, he continued to lose to better hands. No smile on his face this time. Losing to a big flush on the River, he slammed his cards down on the table – and scowled angrily at the dealer.

A few hands later, he went all-in with a raise when making a set of tens on the Turn. With only one opponent remaining in the pot, I am sure he could (finally?) taste victory. It was a good size pot. Anxiously, he stared intently as the dealer prepared to turn up the River card.

Oh no! Sure enough, his lone opponent caught an inside straight. With his opponent having, at most, only four outs, Tom had been a big favorite to win this pot. To say he was disappointed would be putting it mildly. He was angry! He muttered something incomprehensible under his breath and bought yet another rack of chips.

He did manage to win a modest pot when he raised on the turn and his one remaining opponent folded his hand. He seemed to relax a bit. But, then his losing streak resumed. (The poker gods were not with him this day.) He asked the floorman for a table change. (Who could blame him?) While waiting, he played almost every hand – often all the way to the River. I assumed he was doing a lot of chasing, desperate for a win.

The expression on his face left no doubt; he was much disturbed – angry! He continued to scowl at the dealer – as if all his losses were her fault. (Who else is he to blame?) His rack of chips grew ever smaller. Actually, she was a very good dealer, keeping the game moving along smoothly, making no mistakes.

He spoke to her with a look of anger on his face – glaring at her; I could not understand his words. (Just as well, I thought.) Other players at the table were looking at him, sensing Tom was going on tilt. In fact, I would dare say he was already there – and then some.

Perhaps he had reached “the point of no return.” Now he played every hand dealt to him, raising and reraising like a maniac. Certainly, the other players at the table realized what was happening, and called his bets on the River even when they held nothing more than a small pair. Tom’s chips were fast disappearing.

Suddenly, without any warning, Tom screamed at the dealer, accusing her of being “out to get me!” He ranted and raved. I was surprised a floorman did not come to our table to calm him down. Players from the next table looked over to see what was happening.

Finally, while still shouting at the dealer, Tom slammed his hole cards down hard on the table, picked up what remained of his chips, and stormed away.

Good riddance, I said to myself.

We invite your comments. Email to