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Confidence helps when you’re all-in

Jun 17, 2003 3:32 AM

Carol, I want to talk to the folks today about confidence.

You know honey, I think that confidence in yourself in life and in poker is one of the most important skills that a poker player can ever attain.

In my book, "The Gentleman Gambler," I do not teach a lot about how to play poker, but I do tell the players that the first book that I would recommend to the serious students of poker to study was not a how-to-play book, but a book on how to gain self-assurance and confidence in one’s abilities.

Over the past 70-odd years, I have learned that if I do not think I can do it, it very seldom gets done.

So, to those who want to be a professional poker player or just a winning poker player, I am going to give you my:

”˜Oklahoma Johnny’ Hale’s
Poker Tip of the Week

I am requested often to recommend poker books, but I seldom do because most of you already know that a king will beat a queen, and so forth.

Now, Carol, don’t get me wrong, there are a few good poker books out there. But most of them will not help a player learn much about how to play.

But there are some excellent motivation books and tapes that will help a player think that he can play better and that is just what an average poker player needs to move up to be a good player and then to become a great player.

I know Carol, you want me to tell you a couple of good books for the folks to read.

Okay, I will, and it may surprise you because two books that I recommend were written by preacher boys.

First there is Norman Vincent Peale’s "The Power of Positive Thinking."

Then that is quickly followed by Robert Shuller’s "The Power of Possibility Thinking."

Now, I am sure that these old boys do not play much poker, but they can sure make you think that confidence can move mountains.

And sometimes in a poker tournament you need to move a mountain of chips over from your opponent’s stack to your little mole hill of chips.

Let me tell you a true story from this year’s World Series of Poker at Binion’s Horseshoe.

I was on the big blind: the player (A) to my left bet $7,000; the next player (B) with about $50,000 raised all-in; the next player (C) re-raised all-in with a mountain of chips; no one else called.

The original player (A) who had bet the $7,000, then called with the rest of his chips. Two players were all-in and a side pot was generated of about $6,000.

The original player (A) said "I cannot win" and turned up his two Aces before the flop. Player (B) turned over his two 10’s and player (C) turned over his two Jacks.

The Flop came A-10-10, giving the player (A) Aces full of 10’s, but also giving player (B) four 10’s. Player (A) wins the side pot of $6,000 and player (B) stacks up about $160,000.

Coming around the next hand, player (A) is big blind ”” I am small blind ”” all pass to me and it is my turn to act. I did not look at my cards; I just bet and put the big blind all-in. Remember, player (A) had announced to the table that he knew that he could not win with two Aces.

So I just believed him! I believed that he would just give up and throw his hand away or that I would beat him with any two cards.

Well, Carol, he called me and went all-in. Then he turned up Kh-Qh.

Honey , I turned over my 2d and 7c, but I had confidence that I would win and the flop came Kd-Qd-4c, making player (A) the top choice with two pair of K’s & Q’s.

But the turn was a 6d and the river was a 4d, making me the winner with a diamond flush deuce high over player (A) and his two pair.

Was this a good play on my part?

I don’t know. But, like in the movie Star Wars when Luke Skywalker felt the force, I felt the force and I do know that he thought that he could not win. And I thought that I could not lose, and I had confidence and put my money in the pot and put the other player all-in.

The bottom line is this: In life and in poker, you have to think you can or it won’t get done!

Carol, when I go to play in the big game upstairs, just tell the folks for me that he thought he could and he did not always get there but he tried, and sometimes Johnny got it done.

Until next time remember to stay lucky.