I absolutely detest when people say poker is gambling. It’s annoying. It shows their complete ignorance to what this game is about. Is there an element of luck to poker? Certainly, but this game isn’t pumping money in a machine and hoping a few bars pop up on the center line. Poker, pure and simple is a game of skill. You show me someone who relies on luck or hope when it comes to poker and I will show you someone who is broke.
Poker is a game about making decisions. The best players in the world force tough decisions on those they are playing. In poker champion Annie Duke’s book “Decide to play great Poker” she says the goal should be to play in such a way as to force your opponents to make hard and tough decisions, rather than making those decisions yourself. How do you do this ? Position. Taking advantage of where you are on the table. Attacking vulnerable players, reading them, learning their weaknesses, and then taking them down. It sounds simple, but it takes study, discipline and unwavering patience. You notice, I haven’t said anything about getting good cards.
On a recent trip to Vegas I put these tenets to the test with long “junkets” at the table. One thing I “MUST” have when I play poker is time. If you are at a poker table, yet you must be somewhere in 20 minutes, or an hour, or even three or four hours, then why bother ? Patience, patience and more patience is needed. A key to success is recognizing those at the table who are impatient, those who are looking for the big score. You see them all the time. They play all the hands. They get their money in. They push and push and push. I love seeing these people at the table. On occasion they may get lucky and hit their card, they may even knock you out of a tournament and even take your stack. But, I welcome these gun-slingers all the time. They don’t play odds, and they don’t play position and more often than not they could care less about reading you as a player. I may not attack these players, but I am patient enough to wait them out and then put the screws to them. I love putting these players on the spot for their stacks when I am in position. I won’t wait until I have the nuts to bust them, although the nuts help. But, just making them feel uncomfortable, seeing that squirm, knowing I have them beat. I get giddy thinking about it.
As we discuss this more we will talk about the ultimate people game that poker is. The better you know people, the better you will be at the game.