No Magic Needed

by Lou on February 11, 2008

Simple poker is sometimes all that’s required. No magic at all is needed, and when you’re in this kind of game—as I was a few days ago—you’ve just got to gear down, avoid trickery, deception, or any kind of misdirection. Just play solid, straightforward poker, and as strange as that seems, you’ll get the money most of the time.

I was in a game at a nearby casino where few players at my table were in the mood to fold. At least three of them were vying for the title of table sheriff, and would call to “keep you honest.”

When that’s happening, bluffing won’t work. All a bluff means is that you can count on being called in one or more places and you’ll have to improve to win—and when you have the worst hand going in, you figure to have the worst one coming out too.

Since I couldn’t bluff, all I could do was bet and raise for value, knowing that if I had the best hand I’d get paid off. Far too many poker players fail to bet the river in most games, but in this kind of game, where value betting is the key to winning, it’s imperative to bet the river if you bet for value on the turn, were not raised, and the river card does not portend a straight, a flush, or some other obvious disaster.

So I bet my good hands, checked my weak ones, played very boring—and to me, transparent poker—and wound up winning a bunch in this game.

Did I have a good time? No. Not really.

Was I able to dazzle my opponents with my brilliance? Nope. Not at all. And if I tried to put on a virtuoso display of elegant poker, my opponents would have been oblivious to it anyway, and I didn’t feel like wasting time and money impressing only myself with fancy plays.

Still, at the end of the session, boring money spends just as well as money that’s creatively captured, and I went home happy for the winnings, and glad that I geared myself way down, did what I needed to do, and had a boring, productive day.

There have been times in my life when I did the opposite and paid the price. But I’ve learned my lesson. Hope you do too. And when there’s money at the table that’s there for the taking, just take it easy—but take it. You can laugh all the way to the bank.

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