Winning isn’t always ‘fun’

November 13, 2007 6:22 AM
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Winning poker requires a great amount of expertise, patience, time, experience and knowledge of human nature.

Winning poker can sometimes be very boring, mundane, and time-consuming. While on the other hand losing poker can be a lot of fun until the losing player loses his bankroll.

A professional or winning poker player who is all business sits patiently waiting for good starting hands.

But the losing player has a lot of fun and enjoys himself by playing a lot of marginal hands. The recreational player knew that he was going to lose when he started to play.

So many times I have heard a tourist who came to Las Vegas to play a little poker with "Oklahoma Johnny" or some other known player, say that they brought only so much money to lose — so let them lose it and enjoy themselves.

They did not buy that airplane ticket, and rent that hotel room to play fold’em hold’em. They want to and will play almost every hand — and if they get lucky they will win — they will lose the budgeted amount or more of their money and go home, just happy to have played poker in Vegas.

And they will tell all of their friends and anyone that they can get to listen to them about how they beat "Oklahoma Johnny" — I have had them remember and tell me on their next trip the exact hand that they played with me, and of course you will remember that I kissed the Blarney Stone and for that reason and others I will tell them that I remember all of the details and how well I thought that they played the hand.

Just good PR

A mistake that some of the pros make is that they will embarrass them; not only will this hurt their feelings and make them quit playing in the game with you, and you will make yourself a life long enemy. But the professional player hurts the game and his chance of winning when he makes fun of or belittles another player or his play.

Now, I have said all of that to tell you a little story. One day recently at about 3 p.m. I got hungry and looked up my old friend Doug Dalton, who is the card room manager out at the Bellagio.

I wanted to congratulate him on the wonderful job that he and his staff did with the WPT tournament and tell him that next time he should include "The Seniors" (I never quit selling) and of course I would allow him to comp me to dinner at the Bellagio.

I always try to work in a little poker before I eat; I try to win enough to cover the toke for the free meal.

So I got a seat in the $10-20 hold’em game and bought in for $1,000. I had just gotten situated in my seat, had put in my blind behind the button and had introduced myself to the tourist on the button.

Well when he was dealt his first card it accidentally tipped over: It was the 4 of clubs (the dealer stated that it was the player’s fault that the card had turned over, and that he would have to keep it and play with it as part of his hand).

The pot was raised before it got around to me and I had to add $10 more to the pot, which I did (I had the 10 and 5). Well, now this is a really big hand for me — I could make two different straights, two different flushes, two different four of a kinds and a lot of full houses.

I followed my half-in rule (in for an ounce, in for a pound). Then, the tourist on the button turned over his other card which was the five, and said, "Well, I have already showed you players one of my cards, I will just show you both of them" and raised the pot.

It got capped (each player put in the max of $50 before the flop. With five-way action there was $250 in the pot before the flop. The flop came rainbow — Dr. Pepper (10-2-4). I was sure that the other three players had name-brand hands, you know, the Class A hands like Aces, Kings, Queens, or A-K suited, because they had all put in $50 before the flop.

Well, it was bet and capped again. The tourist was one of the raisers and I had him beat with a 10 and his 5 was in my trap because I also had a five. As luck would have it, the turn card was a five.

The tourist now has two pair, 4’s and 5’s, and I have 10’s and 5’s. The tourist bets and low and behold the guys with the Kings, the Aces and Queens, because the pot is now over $1000, all call, hoping that one of their cards will come on the river.

Yes, the guy with the Aces can make a straight if a 3 drops off on the river —so they all call —well I just slip in a raise and it gets capped again this time for $100 each. The pot now holds $2,000.

A blank comes on the river (9), which is a card that helps no one.

The Tourist bets out and the Aces, Kings, and Queens all fold; they have seen the two pair that the tourist has exposed. I do not have the heart to punish him anymore, so this is one of the few times I just called when I knew that I was holding the best hand. But I don’t need money that way. So I just called and won a nice pot.

It is the code of the West that you should let a tourist enjoy himself when he gets the chance. I now had toke money for dinner, so I gave up my seat, as there was a big list and a crowd watching the game.

When I came back after dinner, (I left a nice toke) I couldn’t believe it when I saw that the tourist had almost all of the money in the game, and I couldn’t get my seat back!

Poker tip of the Week

When you are playing poker, starting hands are very important. What you start with is most of the time what you end up with. (One of the computer rules is garbage in garbage out.)

This works also in poker: if you start with an inferior hand, you will most of the time, wind up with a garbage hand that will be fun to play, but it will cost you money, just like a ticket to a movie.

Therefore, you will have to play good starting hands if you want a good result and if you want to count the money at end of the day.

Until next time stay lucky.