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Jeffrey | Poker Articles, Poker Rules

Submitted by Vic Porcelli, this article belongs to the Poker Rules series.

So what is your reaction to a bad beat?  Is it standing up and yelling at someone for putting all their chips at risk on a draw after he hit his flush to beat your top pair, top kicker?   Or maybe you just tap the felt and say, “nice hand.”    The latter of course is the choice I hope you’ll make.  If your choice is to yell at an opponent, I’ll bet the next thing you do is to find that ear to tell your bad beat story to.   The reason someone yells at an opponent is the exact same reason why we tell our bad beat stories.  It makes us feel like we are better players and the other person is inferior and just got lucky. 
Poker is a very emotional game.  We can go from the euphoria of winning a large pot after outplaying an opponent, to the sorrow of putting all your chips in with a nut flush only to lose to a runner runner full house.  It’s how we handle those emotions that make the difference. 

The irony of verbal attacks is hypocrisy.  Players attack opponents for doing the same thing they would do.  When you play a suited connector in early position, hit your straight, and collect a nice sized pot, you just play an aggressive style of poker.  When someone else does it to you, he is a donkey. 
My favorite example is a bluff gone bad turned good.   Player A, bluffs at a pot.  Player B folds.  A few hands later, Player B bluffs back at Player A.  Player A calls.  By the time the river card hits, Player B’s hand improves and his bet on the river is no longer a bluff but a value bet.  Player A calls and loses the hand.  Player A then berates Player B for playing a 7 6 off suit then sucking out a straight, when player A’s bluff a few hands before was a lesser starting hand than Player B’s 7 6.

Now let’s look at tableside manner as a strategy.  The player who berates other players for making moves, or making loose calls immediately puts himself in the spotlight.  “Look at me I’m a loud mouth.  If I lose a pot to you it’s not because you’re a good player. It’s because you got lucky.”   Trust me, with that attitude people will come after you.  They will make more loose calls and re-raise you just to knock you out of a tournament so they don’t have to hear your big mouth anymore. 

Good solid poker players look at loudmouths as inferior players anyway.  “He’s not that good, so he shoots his mouth off to compensate.”  That good solid player will trap a loudmouth with a set and come over the top of your big bet with your top pair and top kicker and send you to the rail.  On the other hand, a quiet player who nobody notices is even there.  A player who never raises his voice, always says good hand, having fun and being very conversational.    That’s the player no one cares about.  No one is coming after him. 

Two easy examples of players with these two opposing characteristics are Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu.   Does everyone love to be the one that knocks Phil out of a tournament?  Yes!!  Do people willingly lay down their hands down to Daniel?  Yes!!  (of course in the case of Daniel Negreanu, he has more than likely just freaked you out because he called out the exact two cards you are holding)   I’m sure Daniel has taken a bad beat or two in his career.  I’ve never seen him yell at the opponent who knocked him out.
So, before you start attacking other poker players because they knocked you out of a tournament.  Look at yourself and be honest with your self by asking “how could I have played that better?”  “Why did I lose that hand?”  Because in most cases you may have made a mistake, a bad read.  Or did you even put your opponent on a hand at all?  Which is the subject of my next column.  “Are You Truly Putting Your Opponent on a Hand?” 

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2 Comments to Tableside Manner

April 3, 2009

Great article Vic! It’s one I will read again and again, because I often feel tempted to shout at my opponents.

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April 15, 2009

I play online cash games for the most part, so I can only relate to that in case I lose my stack (versus getting knocked out) and berating in chat versus in person.

Anyway now when I get a bad or get insulted, I am immunized. A little bit like if you get bitten by mosquitoes all the time, then you do not feel them. Have you ever been in the Amazon. So the mosquitoes will kill you, I bet that. By the Indians do not pay attention to them.

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