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Little did I realize when I asked Max Shapiro to introduce our special guest, poker champion Barbara Enright, for her “Chat with the Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group and Guests” last September, I would write a whole series of columns about him (he is incredible!) and his musings in his book, “Read’em and Laugh.”

Max is Hollywood’s gift to our poker world! I wonder when he will write and direct the most entertaining poker movie of all time – starring his beautiful ladyfriend Barbara, the only woman elected to the Poker Hall of Fame.

An intriguing chapter in Max’s book describes “Max’s Axioms.” An axiom is a statement generally accepted as true or self-evident. It’s obvious! Max says that “poker is replete” with such truisms, and lists 25 of these he labels “Max’s Axioms.”

Let’s examine some of these. (You’ll have to read his book to see more.) Caution: Don’t confuse axioms with idioms. Contrary to some people’s thoughts, an idiom is not an axiom created by an idiot.

Topping off Max’s Axioms:

“A cold seat will catch fire the first hand after you abandon it.”

I don’t know about you but I always watch to see what happens when a new player takes the seat I just moved away from. It does seem that, more often than not, the seat seems to get “hot” for him. I moan under my breath… But in reality, I must admit it only seems that way.

“A player who says ‘Let’s gamble’ is holding the nuts.”

More often than not, I believe that is so. In fact, you might regard this as a tell. But not always… Would a “tricky” player ever say that while holding a monster hand? And what if he is bluffing?

Here’s one of Max’s Axioms I totally disagree with:

“Drunks are always lucky, and the drunker they are, the luckier they are.”

Sometimes it may seem that way. Fact of the matter is drunks usually play many more hands than they should. When one does win a pot it is more likely to be because he got lucky, starting with garbage; but, in the long run, they are bound to go broke. I love to see them at my table… Note: From a statistical standpoint, at a full table of nine players, if the drunk goes in every hand and plays to the river, he should win one out of nine hands. But he loses the other eight times; and that’s very costly!

Here’s one I completely agree with:

“Whenever you limp in with a weak hand you know you shouldn’t be playing, someone will raise.”

Corollary to the story: Use the Hold’em Algorithm so you won’t be tempted to invest in those hands…

As mentioned, Max lists 25 poker axioms. But, being generous, he ends the chapter with a bonus – Max’s personal axiom: “If I go down to a club to pick up a magazine that features one of my articles, I will end up playing ‘as long as I’m here.’ And when I do, I will end up losing several times as much as I was paid for the article.”

Oh well…

Our readers are invited to submit their own favorite poker axiom. There will be a prize for the best poker axiom submitted. Esther (creator of the Esther Bluff – it’s powerful!) and I will be the judges… Contact: [email protected].

This concludes our series related to Max’s zany stories and viewpoints about our poker world.

To get your own copy of his fascinating book (price is just $12 including shipping), contact Max at [email protected].

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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