The Lost Art of Taking Care of Poker's Fish

Fish trophy wallaper

Nowadays it seems that poker is all about picking the right table and that's the end of it, both live and online.

No taking care of the recreational players, no helping the house to create a good atmosphere.

Just put on the headset attached to an iPad that's playing a movie and wait for the fish to pay you off.

That's a long way from how it should be, how it was, and how it will be in the future.

We will come to a point where the house demands that you help create entertainment for the recreational players.

Maybe not demands; but they will definitely talk to you about it and they will let the other pros come after you if you don't play ball.

Just like it must be.

That's the Way It Goes

I played 888 Live in Marbella this weekend. Things looked pretty good after the first day; 59 out of 202 was left and I was the chipleader.

ken lennaard 3
Looking good, until it wasn't.

Day 2 was a bit tougher and I finished 26th, two out of the money. Annoying, of course, but that’s the way it goes.

One Spanish player was upset with what I wrote about him previously.

I can understand that, but then again he has slowrolled me numerous times and needled me even more, so I really do not care.

But there was a specific detail he was upset with; something I would not care one bit about if he called me, but we are all different.

It was not my intention to make him mad or sad so I apologized, we shook hands, and that was that.

To his defense slowrolling and needling is common practice where he plays so I don't think he thought there was anything wrong with that from the beginning.

He now understands how others feel about it and I have not seen a slowroll from him for a long time. He's stopped most needling, too.

All Gesture, Smile and Eyes

One thing he does very much and very well is take care of the fish.

You have probably met someone you think is good at that. So have I, but this guy is the best in the world. Period.

Antonio Esfandiari
Few better at fish protection.

Whenever a big fish shows up at the table the fish smiles from ear-to-ear and hugs this Spanish genius.

They all love him. He laughs, smiles and jokes and creates a great atmosphere.

Even though I don't understand what he's saying I must conclude that he is very funny because all the other Spanish players and dealers always laughs a lot when he jokes.

Maybe you think that you know someone who can beat this guy. Well, you don't.

This guy becomes super friends with the fish without speaking even a single common word. It's all gesture, smiles and eyes.

He should write a poker book about that, because he is World Class.

Surprised They Weren't More Upset

Anyway the next day during the dinner break I was called in to the Casino Manager's private room. It felt like back in school.

“Why did you do it?”

“I don't know.”

But he didn't ask me that question. I could definitely understand if the Casino Manager was upset with what I wrote, but he wasn't (or just wasn't very smart).

He said that he understands that I try to be provocative and funny, but then he showed me a Spanish poker site that had done a very bad translation.

I was grateful that he showed me this that I had no idea of.

888 Marbella field
Structure fast, field soft.

All of a sudden I understood why some Spaniards were looking strangely at me. Actually I was surprised that they weren't more upset.

So I Bet Again

Anyway, the structure was pretty fast in the tournament but the field was soft.

We started with 25,000 in chips, 50/100 blinds and four players.

I still do not understand why players on time should be punished for the convenience of the organizer when handling latecomers.

With the blinds 75/150 we played six-handed. One guy limped in and I raised with JT. He called like I knew he would.

He donked out on a flop of Q-7-5 with two spades, so I raised. He called. A donk-bet from a weak player usually means a weak pair or a draw.

Since he called I had to put him on spades.

Ace of clubs came on the turn. Obviously he could very well have Ax of spades, but he could also have a weak queen or lower flush draw, so I bet again. He called.

The river was a complete blank, a red deuce, and I had a decision to make. I thought that if he had Ax of spades it must be a small kicker, and he could, and should, fold a naked ace.

So I bet again. And he called again.

Come to Think Of It, Maybe Not

ken lennaard 2
Then again, maybe not.

I showed my JT on the felt. He looked, and looked like he didn't understand and couldn't read the board.

I said “Straight."  He looked even more confused.

Finally he showed his A2 of spades. Clearly happy when raking the big pot he let out some steam by saying:

“I wanted the spade to come.”

'What an idiot,' I thought to myself. By complete chance he had played the hand perfectly but he didn't understand it.

He continued:

“Boy, if a spade comes you are in trouble.”

I could have said something back, like how in the world could I possibly lose more money with jack high, but I was more fascinated by how his brain works and how fun it would be to be in there for a day and follow his thought process.

Come to think of it, maybe not.

About Ken Lennaárd:

Sweden's most controversial poker blogger Ken Lennaárd has been around the professional poker circuit for almost 20 years. Among his numerous accomplishments are Swedish Championships both live and online, three WSOP final tables and over $1.5m in live earnings. He's now bringing his singular poker voice to the English world via Look for new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Note: Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not represent the views of

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