Rocks Can’t Win Anymore: Why Are You Still Playing Cards?
Tap, tap, tap.
“Um, excuse me, sir, but why are you still playing cards?”
No, I’m not trying to put down bad players. Sure, they shouldn’t play, but I definitely want them to.
In this instance, however, I’m asking you why you are still playing the cards after all of these years, instead of the players?
Poker is not about the cards, and has never been. You might think I’m trying to pull your leg. You might insist that at the lowest limits, heck sometimes even the middle limits, poker becomes a showdown game; a card catching game…or should I say “river catching” game?
It can be very much about what the best hand at the river is. But it is so much more than that; so much more, that you are not giving it credit for being.
By playing your own cards, playing like a rock, you are not seeing this. You are only seeing either showdown poker, or noticing that you can grind a little bit, successfully, at cash games when you play only cinch hands. You are a rock and cannot get into the psychology of the game, you can’t get past the bad beats or the suck-outs.
How do I know this? Because I AM ONE OF YOU. Don’t ever mistake me as someone who is above my readers and trying to talk down to them. I have said that I CAN’T WIN ANYMORE. I have said that I’m not a world class player. I have said that I cannot win a tournament to save my life. I have said that Hold’em bores me to the point that I am a consistent loser at it. I have said that I will never be a top player, and why, on many occasions.
So who is best able to help your game? Someone who is world class and has been so for many years? Someone who cannot step down to your level and see the games you play from a real world perspective? Someone who has never been a tight player, never played cautiously in his life and never will?
Hmmm, not really, unless he is a great theorist and can step into your shoes. But me? Yeah, maybe I’ll never be the best, but I can help others pretty successfully.
So, now that you believe me, or at least are prepared to listen when I say that you should stop playing cards, and start playing people, sit down and get comfortable. This may take a while ;)
Go find a loose 1/2 or 2/4 game. Yeah, I know. It hurts to sit in those games today. After all, if they are playing ATC in 15/30, just think of how much you are going to get schooled in 1/2.
If you aren’t near a cardroom I probably can’t help much. Yes, you can try this online, but your results won’t be nearly as good or dramatic.
You are going to play in a no-fold’em, hold’em game. You are going to play showdown, monkey poker at it’s finest. But you still aren’t going to play cards. You are going to play people, and you are going to play blind.
If you are the type who cannot help looking at his cards, you know what? I can’t help you. Go somewhere where gambling is a sin and taking chances is the death penalty. You will either play this way, take the experiment seriously and do what I say, or you can go to the rest home. I’m not going to help you if you refuse to listen.
Soooooo, you can’t look at your cards. Ever. Except I’m going to give you one out. One exception. You can look at your holecards if you get raised, re-raised and are planning on folding. Then you can look, and decide, if you can call or raise that bet. But you have to be at the point of folding, and that is it.
Sit down. Buy in for whatever you want. I tend to buy very few chips, and keep cash under them, but this is an experiment, not traditional poker. In fact, I would probably advise buying in for a ton of chips, like three racks. If it’s going to be about psychology, and you are going to portray a loose, wild image, you may as well go for the psych-out, too.
Now, in a move that is remniscant of Sklansky’s System, Blair’s Kill Phil or Vorhaus’ Killer Poker, I’m going to instruct a blueprint for detaching yourself from the cards, and re-learning how to play people, not cards.
I will write numbered lists. It will also be easy for you to print out and memorize and/or take with you to the cardroom, if you really plan on taking this seriously.
Before the flop:
- If you are the first person in the pot, and are in MP or later, raise
- If you are checked to in either blind, raise
- If you are heads-up in position, raise or re-raise
Part One is mostly pre-flop play. I did give you the after-the-flop teaser to get you started, though. I hope this gives you something to chew on and a relatively innocent, safe experiment to opening up your game and learning how to win again!
After the flop:
- If you are first to act, bet
- If you are checked to, bet
- If you are raised or reraised you can look at your holecards (see above–again, ONLY exception)