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Keep Flopping Aces



Poker for Dummies
with Richard D. Harroch
Contents and More Information
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 298 pages
Date: April 10, 2000
Publisher: IDG Books
ISBN: 0764552325

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Articles Index



On Poker: You Can Quote Me on That

Some new (October, 2001) quotes:

If you're looking for a poetic quality to poker it might be this. A competition among finely tuned senses pursuing, gathering, and applying information that's honed into knowledge and comes to fruition as know-how at the poker table. And it's all accomplished in seconds.

Every poker writer worth his salt has made the observation that the lessons of poker are the lessons of life…The reverse is true too. The very skills that make some people so successful in life can be applied to poker just as easily. After all, the vast majority of players have a life away form the poker table, and if better poker skills make you a better performer in the real world, so much the better.

Although the basics are clear for all to see, poker excellence can be elusive, and much more an art than a science at it's highest levels.

This article originally appeared in Card Player Magazine.

This column marks a milestone for me: my 200th article for Card Player. There's no celebration planned - at least none that I know of. After all, no one else would have realized I've written that many columns. I probably would have overlooked it too, but I noticed it while backing up my computer files.

Card Player's May 17, 1992 issue was only 82 pages, and printed on newspaper stock, but it had a glossy cover with a photograph of Kenny Rogers playing poker. June Field, who founded the magazine, was the publisher back then and Maryanne Guberman was in charge of production.

Nevertheless, the nucleus of Card Player's writing team was in place, and it included: Mike Caro, Nelson Rose, Michael Wiesenberg, Roy West, Bob Ciaffone, Arnold Snyder, Susie Isaacs, Lawrence Hill, and Mike Cappelletti. Any writer on board since Volume 1, Number 1 who hasn't missed a beat would have passed the 300-column mark sometime last autumn and ought to be planning a celebration too.

Nevertheless, 200 columns is a lot of typing. At an average of 1,250 words per piece, that's a quarter of a million words - quite a lot by anyone's standards.

It began unceremoniously enough - the first of a three-part series called "The Dynamics of Strategy" appeared on page 20 of Volume 5, Number 8. When I decided I wanted to write for Card Player, I prepared seven articles and submitted them along with a cover letter expressing my goals for the column. I also requested an in-person meeting to review my work. When I came away from the meeting knowing that I'd be in print within the month, I wondered whether I'd bitten off more than I could chew. "Could I," I pondered, "be able to continue to turn out a column every two weeks - or had I already written all I had to say about poker?"

Well, like the saying goes, "Ninety percent of success is just showing up," and I continued to show up each issue for the past eight years. The more I wrote, the more I had to say, and the result has been a quarter of a million words, as well as a book in 1995, my second book in 1997, and my third book, Poker For Dummies, in 2000.

My personal celebration involved perusing each of my 200 columns and pulling my favorite poker quotes to share with you. I don't know if any of these will make it to Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, but if someone ever complies a book of quotable poker quotes, I hope to see a few of mine there.

On Poker and the American Dream

Poker is a microcosm of all we admire and disdain about capitalism and democracy. It can be rough-hewn or polished, warm or cold, charitable and caring, or hard and impersonal, fickle and elusive, but ultimately it is fair, and right, and just.

There's opportunity in poker…If Horace Greeley were alive today, his advice wouldn't be "Go West, young man, and grow up with the country." Instead, he'd point to that deck of cards on table and say, "Shuffle up and deal."

Not only is poker good for you, it's the American way - where winners play fair, have the right stuff, and nothing else matters - except, perhaps, a bit of luck every now and then.

I believe in poker the way I believe in the American Dream. Poker is good for you. It enriches the soul, sharpens the intellect, heals the spirit, and - when played well, nourishes the wallet.

On Poker and Gambling

I'm a poker player. Some might call me a gambler, but I draw a distinction. A gambler plays when the odds are immutable and against him. I don't. That's why there is a large coterie of professional poker players, but not a single, solitary, professional roulette or craps player. In poker, good players win and poor players lose.

On Commitment, Dedication and Self-Deception

Some 250 years ago, Jonathan Swift said, "Satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own." The analogy also holds true for losing poker players. They see flaws in everyone's play but their own.

You will succumb to all your flaws as a poker player during the period you are struggling, growing, and reaching for a higher level of skill. Just because you've read all the books by all the experts, don't deceive yourself into believing that you're going to play as well as they do. The best poker books will teach you how to talk the talk. You'll have to learn to walk the walk on your own!

Knowledge without discipline is wasted, and talent without knowledge is merely unrealized potential.

Learn from better players. Model their behavior. Learn their secrets and determine how they keep from going on tilt. If the shoe fits, steal it!

The key to excellence is making a commitment. Wishing is not enough. Neither is mere involvement. There's a difference between involvement and commitment. It's like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the ham is committed!

You have it in your power to turn a bad-beat around simply by realizing this simple truth: The more bad beats you encounter, the luckier you are. It's a sign that you are playing against opponents who continually take the worst of it, and if you can't beat someone who always takes the worst of it, you can't beat anyone.

On Bankrolls and Money

Stop loss limits, and quitting once you've won a predetermined amount of money, will neither stop your losses if you are a losing player nor protect your profits if you're ahead.

If you are not a winning player, your bankroll will never be large enough. To completely eliminate the possibilities of ever going broke, losing players need a big enough bankroll to outlast their life expectancy.

A professional poker player should realize that every dollar he wins will not be added to his bankroll. After all, he has to pay rent and buy groceries just like anyone else. Reducing one's bankroll converts capital into income - and the distinction is an important one. Change too much capital into income and you've eaten your seed corn.

Limit poker is like a job. As long as you're a winning player, the more hours you put in, the more money you'll earn.

Forget about money management. Forget about quitting when you're ahead or quitting once you've lost some predetermined amount of money. If the game is good and you're ahead, why not keep playing? Chances are you'll win even more money. If you're losing, but haven't let your losses get the better of your emotions and you're still making good decisions at the table, there is absolutely no reason to quit. On the other hand, if the game is bad you should quit or look for a softer game regardless of whether you're winning or losing.

On Tips For Winning

Most of the money you'll win at poker comes not from the brilliance of your own play, but from the ineptitude of your opponents.

In poker, position means power. It is always advantageous to act after you've had the benefit of seeing what your opponents do.

I believe the single most important decision in any form of poker is game selection; determining which cards to enter a hand with runs a close second.

Whenever you're inclined to call a bet, ask yourself this: Instead of calling, is it better to raise, or would folding be the best decision? Many players look for reasons to call. While calling can be almost automatic in certain situations, raising or folding is frequently a better choice.

When the cards have evened out in the long run, the true measure of any player's skill is the quality of decisions he made. Make better decisions and you'll win money...It's that simple.

Hold'em - like life itself - has its defining moment. It's the flop. When you see the flop, you're looking a 71 percent of your hand, and the cost is only a single round of betting.

The first rule of analysis at the table is to gather as much information as you can when you're not involved in a hand. During the play of a hand you simply don't have time for complex analysis. But if you have a substantial amount of game experience you won't run into many situations that are entirely new. That's why there is no substitute for real game experience coupled with theoretical knowledge, and molded into practical know-how.

By avoiding marginal confrontations on the green felt battlefield that require you to put additional money into the pot when it's a close decision, you can play on a shorter bankroll. If you're a winning player, you'll eventually win just as much money. It will just take more hours of play to reach your goals.

Keep flopping aces.

Lou Krieger
May 2000

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