3 words essential to successin the game of poker

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If you plan to invest in real estate and hope to profit, there are three words that are considered necessary: Location; Location; Location.

It is essential that the building in which you invest be in a desirable location, convenient to schools, shopping, transportation and other amenities important to prospective residents.

Likewise, in the game of poker, there are three words essential to success (Reference: The Greatest Book of Poker for WINNERS!

Patience; Patience; Patience.

In the long run, you are almost certain to be a loser if you do not exercise patience at the poker table. With patience comes perseverance – what we might call “sticktoitiveness.” And that takes self-discipline, willpower.

Be resolved to wait for hands deemed playable. Indeed, if you are impatient, you will play too many hands that are poor investments. Then it becomes very difficult to be a steady winner – except if/when you get very lucky. Don’t count on sheer luck.

A winner has a valid basis for judging the advisability of playing each hand dealt to him. Don’t rely on whim – although sometimes your intuition may have merit. My poker students and I use the Hold’em Algorithm. And there are useful tables in most poker books that list hands deemed playable.

It depends on various parameters: the value of your holecards, how high they are, whether they are connectors or suited, your betting position, how many opponents are staying to see the flop and whether there have been or likely to be any raises preflop.

The texture of the game and type of players at the table also are important factors. The Hold’em Algorithm makes the decision much easier, especially in marginal cases. You avoid the stress of remembering the table from a poker book.

With some hands, it is easy to make that decision. Two rags are quickly discarded without any further thought. You know you are going to stay to see the flop with A-K or other premium drawing hand.

It’s the marginal drawing hands, including small pairs and medium connectors where you need to stop and think before acting. The majority of hands should be folded before the flop.

Based on the laws of probability, most hands dealt to you – about 75% – are not worthy of your investment if you are playing to win. Obviously, then, you must expect to sit out most of the hands dealt. But you came to play – not to sit idly by while others enter the fray.

You are “eager to go!” Having restraint over your emotions takes considerable patience, perseverance and self-discipline. If you are not involved in the game three-quarters of the time, how can you avoid getting impatient?

Well, you might use your “idle time” watching the basketball game on the big-screen TV mounted on the wall. (Let your opponents do that.) That’s the wrong course of “action.”

Instead, use that time to observe the game, to become better informed about your opponents. That’s much more valuable. Observe your opponents; watch their actions: Look for tells; What kinds of hands does each play? How do they play their hands – tight, loose, aggressively, deceptive?

Is anyone a Calling-Station or a “maniac” who raises almost every opportunity? (In that case, you would be well advised to try to get seated to the maniac’s left so he bets before you act.)

In the final analysis, it takes considerable patience to be a winner. And it takes self-discipline to sustain your patience. If your goal is to go home a winner, it is essential to remember – and abide by – these three important words:

Patience; Patience; Patience. . .

(For comments or questions, George “The Engineer” can be reached at [email protected])


About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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