More Stupid Things Heard at Poker Tables

Hey, listen to this!

I thought I was done with this topic but, alas, I've heard so many more utterly wacko things said at poker tables in the last couple of months that I can't resist another go at it.

In no particular order:

"Hmmm, glad I folded," which gets muttered at least ten times a night in the average poker room, usually after the flop.

This comment and its twin, "Damn, I coulda' doubled up on that flop," are nonsensical.

Look folks, once you've made a decision about what to do with your hand, the flop is irrelevant. The correctness of the pre-flop action is based on the conditions that existed pre-flop.

Whether it was the right (or the wrong) thing to do is based entirely on those circumstances. The cards that actually landed on the flop are massively irrelevant.

In fact, if I could give you a mental 'gift' that would help your poker game in oh so many ways, I would arrange it so that one micro-second after mucking your cards you forgot what they were.

Ruminating about what might have happened or what you could have won (or lost) on a hand cannot possibly help your game. The only thing it'll do is suck you into playing hands that you shouldn't play or mucking ones you should.

This point holds for the later streets as well. If you folded your gut-shot draw on the turn because you weren't getting the right odds don't swear (even under your breath) when your 4-outer hits the board.

I appreciate how tough it is to resist these feelings of regret (or relief). There is something very compelling about seeing the board and knowing exactly what your hand would have been.

Erica Schoenberg
Did someone say seductive?

Flop games like Omaha or Hold 'em have this seductive element, which may be one of their attractions.

Others like stud, draw or razz don't; you can't reconstruct what your hand would have been had you stayed (although you can do a partial with stud depending of a host of factors).

There is, not surprisingly, an interesting psychological feature operating here, it is our fascination with counterfactuals. Counterfactuals are arguments about what might have or could have happened. They are very appealing and routinely invite speculations.

Historians are particularly prone to them ("What would the world be like if Hitler had become a successful painter?" or "What if Lee Harvey Oswald missed?"). But, unlike the historians who are only playing a guessing game, in flop games you know what would have happened.

And no rabbit hunting, although, if truth be known, everybody loves to rabbit hunt, including me. If it weren't for the time that it wastes and the uselessness of what is learned.

"I cannot beat this guy." This line is usually followed with "No matter what I hold, he's got something better or he sucks out on me, only me."

Again, the feeling is real. It is also illogical and does not reflect reality.

As we've noted on many an occasion, human memory is far from perfect and one of its weaknesses is that it tends to be "selective."

We remember events that have importance or were significant for us in some way. We forget things that we are not attending to or did not fit with our current thinking.

If we start believing that the clown in the 2-hole just beats on us like a red-headed step child, we will begin to focus on the times he's sliced us up, recall those moments with a special poignancy and, of course, forget the times he folded or showed down second best.

Beginning to think that an opponent has some occult hold on you is a mistake, a big one.

It can seriously screw with your mind; it takes on a life of its own and impacts negatively how you play against this guy. Worse, when you talk about it, it's like giving him a license to run over you.

"I want to see that hand." This last one is the all-time winner ... or loser.

It was the $2/5 game at my local room, the one that plays like a $5/10 game elsewhere in the sane world. A big pot developed between two guys who had been going at each other all night.

Lou Esposito
Not this Lou.

'Lou,' in seat 7 has been playing a very squirrelly game, raising with junk, smooth calling with big pairs and talking and talking and talking. He's been getting to 'Max' in seat 8 who is starting to tilt.

Lou (sitting behind about $1,200) opens for $45 (not unusual in this game) and Max (who has him covered) is the only caller (pot = $97). The flop is mildly coordinated, 9 8 2.

Lou bets $90. Max calls (pot = $277).

The turn is 3. Lou bets out $222; Max looks annoyed at the amount, riffles chips for a bit but smooth calls (pot = $721). The river is 6.

Lou bets out $444. Max tanks for about 2 minutes. Finally, he looks over at his tormentor and says, "Okay, I call."

"Good call," says Lou, "I missed." and nods his head in defeat. Max smiles triumphantly, and turns over Ac, 9c. Then, before the dealer has a chance to do anything, he says "I want to see that hand."

In a normal world the dealer will ask Lou to drop his hand on the table, push the pot (now over $1,600) to Max, take the now-dead hand, tap it twice on the table and turn it over.

But Lou is still holding the cards and he says, "Oh, yeah, sure" and proceeds to turn over J T and says, "Oh shit, look at that, I hit the flush."

And the dealer pushes him the $1,600+ coconuts.

My friend Tommy Angelo has a rule. He never talks at the table. Max could learn a lot from Tommy.

Okay, I'm done with this topic, hopefully forever 'cause it's gonna be tough to top this last one.

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