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As stated in The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners! (see ad elsewhere in SlotsToday), without patience, you will play too many hands that are poor investments. If you are impatient, you are bound to end up a loser – at least in the long run.

Patience is an essential attribute for winning at poker.

While it’s not the only criterion, patience is crucial if you aspire to win at poker… (Note: Some people play only for the sheer excitement; they crave the action. They really don’t play to win.)

Most important is your starting hand.

You are dealt two down cards. Now you must decide whether or not to stay in. You are making an investment, hoping to gain something of value – more chips. There are tables/charts in many poker books to help with this decision; our Hold’em Algorithm makes it much easier to make that sometimes difficult choice. (I often tell my Claude Pepper Senior Center Poker students: “When in doubt, preflop, fold.”)

Over the long term, one out of four or even fewer hands dealt to you will warrant a call to see the flop – depending on the value of your hole cards: their rank, suited or connectors; your betting position; any raises or likelihood of a raise after you declare; number of opponents staying to see the flop; and types of opponents or the texture of the game. After folding a number of hands in a row (that’s common), you are likely to crave some action; you want to get into the fray – get involved and not be a viewer. Resist the temptation. Have patience. Stick to your resolve. Be patient.

While sitting out these hands, use this valuable time to study your opponents: What kinds of hands do they play? Are they PokerSharks (who usually play quite tight and selectively aggressive) or PokerPigeons (loose players who see lots of flops; They “came to play!”)?

 Is an opponent passive or does he often raise? Is he deceptive: Check-raise? Slow-play? Bluff? Is he very aggressive – a “maniac?” Any tells? There’s so much useful information you can glean just because you were patient, and decided to wait for a better starting hand…

When you do see the flop, your hand will not improve about 2/3rds of the time. Usually fold to a bet. Be patient. Even when the flop improves your hand, you may still lose to a better hand. Above all, don’t allow yourself to go on tilt and start playing recklessly. Be patient!


As the popular song suggests, “Love and marriage – they go together… You can’t have one without the other.” Likewise, patience and perseverance are a team. Perseverance – persistence, determination, stick-to-itiveness – is essential when striving for patience. Be resolved to remain patient. Don’t allow yourself to succumb to your natural emotions that seem to urge you to get into the action – now, not later! It may take self-discipline and a conscious, deliberate effort to avoid calling the blind with a less-than-acceptable starting hand. Don’t act on a hunch.

One device to help you maintain your resolve is to move your chips a bit further to one side; that gives you a little more time to think before you make the mistake you are almost certain to regret. Act in haste; repent in leisure. . . Don’t let an opponent or the dealer force you to declare when you’re not ready. Just say, “time.” Ask yourself the key question: “Is this a hand that is worth my making an initial investment – or should I wait?” Patience and perseverance…

Comments? George “The Engineer” Epstein can be contacted 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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