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I am always pleased when a reader sends me an email commenting on my poker columns in Gaming Today. Recently I received a very pleasant – and welcome – email from a 76-year-old gentleman named John Fleckenstein who often enjoyed playing dealer’s choice poker in a private social club until recently, after several of the regulars moved or passed away.

Now, for the most part, John plays Texas hold’em during golf getaway trips. Rather than playing in a casino, he prefers more informal settings, playing with friends. Apparently, he learns well, and often wins.

John told me he is a faithful reader of my weekly columns in GamingToday. He lives in Pittsburgh and has the newspaper mailed to his home every week. John discovered it many years ago during a visit to Las Vegas, he explained.

He first wrote to me to express his appreciation for helping him become a winner through the advice offered in my columns. And, he told me about the four sessions of Texas hold’em he played during a recent four-day golf trip. He won three out of the four sessions, and expressed his gratefulness for my advice on selecting starting-hands, avoiding chasing, and counting outs, among other strategies, tactics and poker concepts.

Well, it so happened in one of those poker sessions John experienced a bad-beat on the river when an opponent caught an inside straight to beat his set of Aces. Of course, we all encounter such bad-beats on occasion. (Like it or not, that’s part of the game!) Thinking about that bad-beat, John commented: “I realize I should have bet more aggressively.”

To his credit, he recognized his mistake. More aggressive playing might very well have got that opponent to fold his inside straight draw before the river, leaving a good-size pot for John.

2On the other hand, following advice offered in some of my columns, he “refused to go on tilt,” John commented, “as I knew if he (the opponent who rivered him with just four outs) kept chasing this way, I would win his chips.”

A bit later when John was the Big Blind, holding a horrible 4-8 in the hole, he got to see the flop without further investment when no one raised preflop. (Apparently, the players at his table were not too aggressive). Surprise! The dealer placed a pair of 8’s on the board. John’s trip 8’s took a nice pot. (Luck balances out!) That’s “Poker Justice,” as John called it, making up for that bad-beat.

I was interested to learn John is not a novice in the game of poker; he has been playing since he was a youthful teenager – about 60 years ago. Along the way, he enjoyed a long career as an accountant in steel fabrication and forging, mainly for bridges and buildings.

Ultimately, he became “Manager Accounting.” I was impressed with the scope of his responsibilities, including business planning, reports for operating management, closing of the books each month, inventory control, accounts payable, and generally any paper work required.

That occupation required discipline, logical thinking, focusing, and working under pressure. This was bound to help him gain significant skills that enhance his ability to win at the poker table. (I wonder how his golf game is.)

My columns are not his only source for learning his winning ways and sharpening his poker skills. John has read many poker books, of which he singles out “Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players” by David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth, world-renowned legends in the game, and “How to Win at Poker” by Poker Hall-of-Famer Johnny Moss.

And, to add to his collection, I intend to have my publisher (T/C Press) send him a copy of one of my two most recent books, “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision” or “The Art of Bluffing” (including the Esther Bluff).

Keep up the good work, John. Here’s wishing you lots of good outs with your drawing hands and more than your fair share of the nuts.

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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