Archive for March 2013

Vinny at the Indian Poker Legends TournamentConfessions of a Grinder

Do you often find yourself having to make a calculated decision when a hostile and tilted mongrel of sharks, fish, bipolar bears, battle-scarred seals, drunken donkeys, Aces-seeking dotards, nits, and elephants, are moments away from calling the clock on you? I have noticed that this lot has a tolerance limit of 90 seconds.

I follow a 90-second rule in similar Live Poker situations.

  1. Your Hand Strength (H) at the given stage against an average assumption of what your opponent holds, and
  2. The Pot-Odds (P) compared to your hand strength will help you
  3. Decide

a)    Hand Strength: Learn your pre-flop hand equities e.g. your AK suited has a 46% chance of winning against QQ. However, against KK, the chance is 34%. If you put him on either KK or QQ, then your hand strength is the average of the two i.e. 40%. Take 30 seconds to do this. A good poker calculator should help you prepare

b)    Pot-Odds: In the earlier hand, if he raises your bet all-in and you have to call $50 in a pot of $90, do not hesitate. Calculate your Pot Odds in 30 seconds.

P       =         Amount to call x 100          =       38.4%

Amount to Call + Pot Size

If P < H, the call is profitable in the long run.Phil Hellmuth's Million $$ SecretsDVD

c)    Decide: Take 30 seconds to study his body language. Poker DVDs such as Phil Hellmuth’s Millions Dollar Secrets To Bluffing & Tells will help you sharpen your reading skills. I make many of my profitable live poker judgments during this step.

With ample practice, this will be reduced to 60 seconds. I do not consider myself as a master poker player and I never will. I strive to learn constantly from other professionals who are much better than I am in different aspects of the game. This rule is something I formulated for myself and when the going gets tough, this rule helps me in making a wise choice. Others might follow their own rule in this situation and might disagree with mine. This is something that helps me at the current stage of my poker career, so I’m sharing it with beginners who might want to follow it.

Good luck at the tables!

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Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early seventeenth century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church and Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, as well as celebrating the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians also attend church services and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption.

My Good Luck Shamrock - All In card cover - spinnerThe luck of the Irish can refer to Irish people having either particularly good or particularly bad luck. Lots of poker players believe in the Luck of The Irish (the good luck). Certainly on Saint Paddy’s Day you can see many of these players in casinos all over the world wearing green, having shamrocks pinned to their shirts or caps and some even refusing to play on any poker tables that are not covered with the traditional green felt. As Vinny mentioned on his blog here a few days ago “every poker player is guilty of their own bundle of superstitions.” I, for one, never ever play without my lucky shamrock poker card cover, even if sometimes it seems to bring me bad luck; when that happens, I just spin it and patiently wait for the good luck of the Irish to hit me again.

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Vinny at the Indian Poker Legends TournamentConfessions of a Grinder

Many poker players are superstitious. Is this true? No. I believe ‘every’ poker player is superstitious. According to me, being superstitious brings out a more psychological explanation than one based on religion and ritual. As simple as it may sound, people like to be comfortable in their zone. Well-known professional poker players exhibit this habitual, comforting and often obsessive-compulsive phenomenon, too. Sammy Farha, an aggressive high-stakes cash game specialist held an unlit cigarette in his mouth when he finished as the runner-up in the 2003 World Series of Poker. He has continued the habit since. Johnny Chan, the two-time WSOP ME winner and a master poker pro carries his lucky orange with him, which he initially carried to eliminate the smell of smoke, around him. Barry Greenstein, a charitable poker player and philanthropist, writes in his book that a sex partner who travels with you can be a big asset. When ‘Texas Dolly’ Doyle Brunson wins a big pot; he always plays the next hand regardless of his hole cards. Doyle also carried his lucky Card guard named Casper in all his poker sessions, and made up to $15,000 a year renting it out to other poker players! Every poker player is guilty of their own bundle of superstitions.

May The Luck Of The Irish Be With You - Card Protector available at the Texas Poker StoreI admit that I am highly superstitious too. I wear my lucky jacket in all games; avoid cutting my nails on Saturdays; list my chip stack towards the east, and look at my hole-cards one at a time. These minor superstitions make up my own comfort zone. There are so many other things you could do to bring good luck and avoid ill luck. You could wear dirty clothes, not sit cross-legged, avoid dealer eye contact, carry fruits or horseshoes, spit on cards or not bathe, but the fact of the matter is that even though it comforts you, it will not help you. Maybe, you could invest in a few lucky card guards but it’s best you do not indulge in pondering about luck too much. Rumor has it that Annie Duke encourages others at the table to be superstitious because it sometimes makes them play badly – talk about smart strategy! As for me, I always believe in the Latin proverb Fortes Fortuna Juvat – Fortune favors the brave.

Good luck at the tables!

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Vinny at the Indian Poker Legends TournamentConfessions 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!

Hold 'Em Wisdom For All PlayersThere 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!

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