Confessions of a Grinder
Have you ever heard anyone say, “The first rule of poker is – Play the player not the situation”, or “Know when to hold’ em and when to fold ‘em.” In my opinion, there are many first rules in poker, with each rule making more sense depending on the situation. I am going to list some of my own ‘first rules’ and the poker players or movie characters who follow them. My first first rule is “Shut up and play.” I have made too many good calls listening to opponents speak and picking on their tells. A nervous poker player more often than not sounds like a meek rat with a soft cracking high-pitch tone. Although this goes against my personality and sense of humor, I am working hard on being a stoical statue-like opponent like Patrick Antonius. John Vorhaus, a prolific poker writer, player, author and script developer would agree when he said “Never educate a stupid poker player.” He is right. Why try? Let a donkey speak his own Chinese.
My second favorite first rule is “Show them no Mercy.” I have heard too many fools on table say, “Yeah I knew you had two pair and you’d call. I didn’t want your money, so I checked back”. This usually happens to the players sitting to your immediate left or right whom you tend to bond with for no apparent reason. Don’t do it! Matt Damon’s character agreed in the movie Rounders when he said, “It’s immoral to let a sucker keep his money.” Robert Duvall in the movie Lucky You said, “You want sympathy? You’ll find it between “shit” and “syphilis” in the dictionary.” Remember, you are in it to win it!
There are a few first rules I like about patience, folding and playing tight. Here are a few: “Tight is Right”, “Poker stands for Patience Over Knowledge Equals Results” and, one from the great Amarillo Slim, “Fold and live to fold again”. One of my favorite quotes is by our very own Jim Paris – “Wait!, Wait!, Wait!” I think that’s a good rule of thumb. If you are card dead, just wait, wait and wait. If you’re interested in other interesting rules, quotes and opinions, you can find lots of them in the many poker books written by professional poker players. Whatever your first rule is, I hope you follow it and succeed. Good luck at the tables!