Lyle's Blog

Poker Strategy 101

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I know that I am a pretty good poker player. First off, my personality fits. I remember a college professor calling me pet names like "stone face" because of my lack of showing emotion. "Come on, show me some emotion", he would chide me, "At least then I would know that you are listening to me.". Then there was a former employer, Howard Deutch (one lawyer, accountant, writer, publisher, producer among his many hats) who would actually scream at me during business discussions. "Show me some emotion!", he would yell. "Get mad back at me. Then at least I would know that I am reaching you!". I have a poker face.

Secondly, I am able to concentrate well on the game and have a pretty good idea and feel of the table that I am playing at. I have folded some pretty good hands just because I could feel better cards on the table around me.

But, alas, I still have not qualified for my own big tourney that is to be held in October that we have named "The World Series of Holdem for Habitat". In order to qualify for that tourney, one has to win one of the weekly tourneys that are held at Jake's on Monday evenings. BTW, we have now raised over $12,000 for Habitat for Humanity playing these weekly tourneys.

I have been close so many times but always seem to go out with a bang on some crazy hand. My buddy, Frank, always laughs because every week, I have a different story of some crazy hand that becomes my demise. This week was certainly no exception to that.

I had only won one hand but that win had given me quite a few chips. I had some pretty good cards but others on the table always seemed to have better. I had played pretty smart and had actually smelled out a couple of those "better hands" and had folded before losing to them thus saving my chips. So, when that table next to me had worked down its players and was looking for someone to join them, I gladly accepted thinking that a change of tables might change my luck. After all, you could be the best player in the world but without some luck, you cannot win.

I came to the new table in the big blinds. For the person who has not played holdem but understands poker a little, it is the only person on the first deal of the cards that has to play the minimum bet. He is also the last person on the first deal to bet. The attitude of the table was electric with the previous two hands having taken out people and with the winner who was sitting to my right having two aces in his pocket in both hands. I held on to my emotion as I was dealt those same cards in the first deal. No one was going to expect this one. After all, the chance of two aces being dealt in a hand three times in a row are astronomical.

I smiled to myself as I surmised that this change of tables had come on just at the right time. Most of the table bet the minimum so when it got to me, I raised but only twice the blinds so as not to scare too many people out and in hopes of raising the pot a little to maximize the chips in my win. Bob and my buddy, Frank stayed with me while the other two bowed out. Then came the flop with a King, a six, and another small card all of different suites. I checked hoping that one of them would have the king and I could trap him with my pair of aces. Bob too checked and then Frank bet pretty hard showing me that he had a pair of kings. I then decided to go all in. My thoughts were that I wanted to take the hand before someone lucked out and ended up with two pairs and thus beating me. I was quite shocked when Bob followed my all in with one of his own. "I remember Bob saying as he bet, "Frank, I am calling your bluff. Now, Lyle has a pretty good hand here. I just think that mine might be a little better.". Frank then looked at me and said, "Lyle, this is your time. I am going to contribute to your chip stack so you can win it all tonight.". With that, he called both of our all ins.

I quickly flopped over my two aces with a smile. "Unbelievable!", they all seemed to yell in unison. I then sat back and gloated at my winning of the hand. That is until a cool Bob smiled and said, "I thought my hand might be a little better.". At which time, he laid out his pair of sixes that matched with the six on the table gave him three sixes. Frank showed his King and Jack of clubs that gave him the worst hand of the three with the exception of one of the cards on the table being a club. No other aces came out so I knew that I still had a chance but my chances were getting slim. None of the next two cards were aces but both were clubs so the worst hand on the table turned into the best as Frank took the hand with a king high flush.

As Frank collected his chips after taking us both out, he laughed and said, "Well, Lyle, you always have a story on how you went out and tonight is certainly no exception".

So true, Frank, so true.

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