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I was so impressed with Irene Edith’s recent column about Max Shapiro, the world’s foremost poker humorist, I decided to write my own column – sort of a sequel to Irene’s.

Speaking of skill and luck, I quote Max: “Poker is a game that pits your skill against the opponent’s luck.” Read that again to get the true significance.

In the past, I have written about poker malapropisms and poker aphorisms. Max’s book, “Read ‘em and Laugh” has a full chapter of his “poker axioms” – truisms related to the game of poker with a bit of humor thrown in for good measure. I’ll share with you my comments on some of them:

“A cold seat will catch fire the first hand after you abandon it.” There are valid reasons for changing your seat at the table. Perhaps you want to get to the left of a maniac so you can see how he bets before you must act.

It happened to me the other night at the casino: Actually it was the second hand dealt after I moved to another seat. The player who moved into it, was dealt pocket Queens. The flop gave him a set of Queens; and the turn was the fourth Queen! Think about how you would have played that hand.

“Misdeals occur only when you hold a premium hand.” I looked down at pocket Aces in the hole just as the dealer declared misdeal after skipping another player.

“The one time in your life you are dealt a pat royal flush, no one will call.” It could happen.

“When a dealer sits down and greets the players with a hearty, ‘How’s everyone doing today?’ no one will bother to reply.” With the high rake these days, it’s hard to be a winner.

“Drunks are always lucky, and the drunker they are, the luckier they are.” Fact is that’s the only way they can win a pot.

“The moment you win your first hand in three hours, someone will call for a deck change.” It’s happened to me more than once. How about you?

“When you make a smart laydown against a player who bluffs only one day a year, this will be the day of the year he has decided to bluff.” Well, maybe.

“When you make an even smarter laydown against a player who never bluffs, he will misread his hand and hold absolutely nothing.” I really cannot comment on this.

“No matter how rotten the game you are currently playing is, when you ask for a table change, the floorperson will manage to put you into an even worse one.” Sometimes, the floorperson will “forget” to move you to another table because he wants to keep your current table full.

“When you promise yourself you will play ‘just one more hand’ and then get up, you will always find a good reason to break your word to yourself.” Especially when you are behind and praying for a big hand with a monster pot to get even.

“Whenever you limp in with a weak hand you know you shouldn’t be playing, someone will raise.” You should have looked for a tell before you limped in. If one of the players behind you is picking up a lot of chips, you would have been wise to muck your hand.

“At the showdown, if you turn up your hand before required to, you will end up being slow-rolled by the player who should have acted first, but hesitated.” And, then, there’s the player who should have been first to showdown his hand who sits still and asks you to show your hand. Then he folds his cards if you beat him without revealing it. What would you call that?

Thanks, Max.

Some Trivia: Why does a round pizza pie come in a square box? And, after savoring that “yummy” pizza, in case you are salivating for more trivia: Do you know that “a jiffy” is actually a unit of time: 1/100th of a second. Now, hurry up and deal.

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Email: [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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