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Swimming With Fish Part 2: Table Talk
This is the second half of a two-part article about keeping your table's fish happy. In part one, we talked about "tapping the glass" and making sure the fish stick around.
In part two, I'll be dealing with table talk, faulty logic and keeping your fish from evolving, as turning a fish into a shark is even less profitable than having the fish leave the game completely.
You're still going to lose pots to ridiculous hands; keep dealing with it.
And for the love of god people, stop talking about poker strategy at the poker table. Along with gills, fish have ears. Talking about random poker strategy hurts you in many ways:
1) The fish learns some, or all, of the concepts you're talking about.
2) The fish can't comprehend the concept, but now understands the game requires far more thought and study than they had previously believed.
Most players come into the game viewing it as being little different from any other game they have played in their life. They know that the more you play the better you get, but they don't fully realize how in-depth the game of poker gets.
When a player who's taking poker at face value starts hearing you mention reverse implied odds, it will clue him or her in to the fact there is a lot to learn.
3) Many fish believe they are good poker players. When you're talking about strategy they don't understand, they start to feel inferior. When this happens, they will rock up or leave.
Worse than talking about random strategy is talking about, and analyzing, previously played hands at the table. It's one thing for a fish to grasp a poker concept or theory, but it's common for fish to have a difficult time applying the concept to the actual game.
When you start commenting on an actual hand played, they get instant feedback on any mistakes they may have made. Even the biggest fish will learn from this, and get better.
When you say "If you had gone all-in, I would have folded," you've just made sure they will go all-in next time. Even if the fish has no idea what you're talking about, talking about the hand still gives valuable information:
"His reverse implied odds were almost nil. He should have smooth-called to try and trap another player into the pot."
A fish will have no idea what you just said. But he will understand he should have called. He doesn't know why exactly, but it sounded pretty smart, so next time he'll just call.
I hope you're all picking up what I'm putting down here. Talking strategy, or poker at all, on the table is -EV.
One of my favorite things in poker is hearing faulty logic. Fish will create their own ideas of how poker works. Some of these ideas are pretty close to being accurate, and some are outrageous. As a manipulative professional player, it's your job to propagate the outrageous ones among the fish.
Here are a couple of my favorites:
All Flush Draws Are 50% to Hit
The logic behind this one comes from a poor understanding of probability, statistics and math. Luckily for us, the majority of the world isn't very good at any of these things. Here is the fish logic:
A deck of cards has four suits.
We flop a flush draw, so we need one more like-suited card to come.
Four suits give us a one-in-four chance of our suit coming: 25% to hit.
We get two chances to hit (turn and river) 25%*2 = 50%.
Conclusion: all flush draws are 50% to hit.
All Hands (Heads-Up) are 50-50 Pre-Flop
This logic is much more impressive.
No person knows which three cards are going to come on the flop.
Any cards in the deck are just as likely to come up as any other cards.
Any two cards will win when the board hits them.
Conclusion: Any two cards are just as likely to get hit by the flop as any other two cards, making them clearly 50-50 pre-flop.
In summary, you might feel like you're being a nice guy helping out a fish by giving them a few pointers. Maybe you feel bad for taking their money, so you point them toward some good books or Web sites.
You have to remember, trying to be nice to this one fish will cost everyone else a lot of money. You're being nice to one person, only to upset countless others.
We play poker to make money. You can be a nice, wonderful person and still teach fish nothing. You could take their money every day for the rest of your life and have them love you for it. Always be a nice person, but for your own sake, and that of us all, do your part in keeping the fish, fish.
More strategy articles from Sean Lind: