Try thinking before acting!

Jun 1, 2004 2:32 AM

Carol, I want to talk to the folks about poker and the playing of it and life and the living of it.

I know that the folks want to know all about the $100,000 that you awarded to the winner of the No Limit Hold ”˜em Charity Jr/Sr WCOP tournament that you hosted last week at The Orleans, as well as the World Series of Poker, "The Seniors" World Championship of Poker, the River Boat Poker Tour with Chris Moneymaker and the plans that we have to produce for television, "The Seniors" TV (Hall of Fame) poker show.

If the folks will come back next week, I will try to tell you a little bit more about all those and other poker happening, but today I want to talk a little about playing poker.

There has been so much poker promotion and all the poker happenings that I have missed just talking about playing poker.

So today, I will talk about poker and poker people; thus, the rest of this column will be:

 Oklahoma Johnny’s Poker tip of the week

These tips go all the way back to 1998, but they will work for you folks today.

In 1998 at the World Series of Poker, I developed a nodding acquaintance with Kevin McBride. At a certain point in the tournament he approached me and said, "I have $800,000 in poker chips in this championship game, and I wish you could play it out for me and I would give you half."

Of course they would not let us do that. So, Kevin asked if I would tell him what to do. "Will you coach me?"

Kevin was a little nervous and I assured him that I would help him as much as I could.

The advice I gave him was simple: "Don’t change anything (the wheel is not broken — just keep it rolling). You’re playing good for the game that you’re in and you are positioned well to win it."

I continued: "This is my advice to you — relax and enjoy the poker game; you have played poker very well up to this point, take your time and think; when the breaks come don’t mention how they are playing now; instead, count backwards to 10 before you take any action; think it out then make your play; do not rush your play or make an impulsive move — think it through!"

Kevin did that and more. He made the final table, then the final three — along with T.J. Cloutier and Scott Nguyen — then the final two, Kevin and Scotty Nguyen.

I had Kevin’s eye from the gallery and was close enough that he could feel my presence.

It was not a break but Kevin got up and came over to me and asked again, "What do I do now, coach? I have $l,200,000 in chips."

I replied, "I like your play — you’re doing very well. You’re reading them right and your vibes are good. But now, start counting backwards from 15 before you make your play — play it all back and consider your overall position."

After T.J. was gone, Scotty and Kevin took another break.

I reminded Kevin, "You’re doing really good — just make one adjustment: now do a reversal — start counting backwards from five before you act. We are trying to change the pace, but think during those five seconds. Don’t speed through them."

I was watching the play at the end but I couldn’t advise him what to do. The error that cost Kevin the tournament was one that some of us would not have made, but then I’ve never had the chance to make that mistake myself.

The error was that he failed to raise and clean up the blinds — he held a pair of queens. The flop came a queen and two other spades. Scotty held two small spades and had flopped a flush against Kevin’s trip Queen’s.

Kevin’s error of failing to bet a sufficient sum was the end of the game for him: he had reverted to playing a limit game or a low-limit game.

You must kill the blinds in the spring or they will kill you in the fall.

I didn’t stay around after the finale to congratulate Kevin because there was quite a mob of hangers-on waiting to speak to him, the ones who always run to somebody when he has made a big win. Seems that’s the way it always is when someone makes a big hit for a lot of money.

Folks, always remember to think before you make your move and you can take the money home and count it there.

Until next time, always stay lucky!