Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in the London Telegraph in 2005.
Historical note: The following explanatory note didn’t appear in the series, but was sent with each column as submitted.
Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson stands unchallenged as the most celebrated poker player who ever lived. In 2005, at age 72, he won an unprecedented 10th championship gold bracelet at the World Series of Poker. He is among the few living members of the Poker Hall of Fame, and his books are the bibles for poker professionals.. Through www.poker1.com and www.doylesroom.com, Brunson has teamed with Mike Caro, today’s premiere poker educator, to offer a free learning experience to players worldwide. This column is founded on those collaborative teachings.
Even the longest roads in Texas eventually arrive at a destination. Here is my 68th and final entry in this series. Hopefully, I have fully discussed the attitudes, traits, and tactics that build bankrolls and make great poker players. In saying good-bye for now, I’d like to revisit six of my favorite pieces of advice.
Six favorite tips revisited
- When you first play no-limit, it may seem terrifying to raise. Unlike limit games where you know for certain how much each wager will cost, no-limit games can suddenly trap you for everything you have on the table. Beginners typically fear making raises and, so, turn into timid callers. That’s a sure formula for losing at no-limit. You need to be fearless about making raises, and if you’re not prepared to do that, stick to limit poker games.
- Novice hold ’em players, and even some experienced ones, overlook double-belly-buster straight opportunities. They think in terms of inside straights, where they hold K-8 and see a flop of 7-5-4 needing a 6. Or they recognize open-end straights where they hold A-10 with a flop of 9-8-7 and can catch either a 6 or a jack. They forget that there are many cases in hold ’em where the “double belly buster” chance exists – essentially two inside straight possibilities. When you hold A-5 and the flop is 7-4-3, you can catch inside with a 2 or a 6. It’s important not only to recognize that you can hold this two-way inside straight chance, but so can an opponent.
- You don’t always need the best of it to wager. Just as it’s profitable to drill for oil on the speculation that you might find it, it’s OK to invest a small amount to investigate whether you have a winning expectation. If you do have one, keep playing and win big. If you don’t, just figure the small loss was worth the cost of exploration.
- The old saying that you shouldn’t count your chips while you’re playing at the table is common wisdom among poker amateurs, but it makes no sense to pros. If you’re coaching a sports team, it would be ridiculous not to look at the scoreboard, and the same applies to chips at poker. You should always want to know where you stand relative to your opponents.
- You must learn to appreciate recreational poker players and never ridicule them. Remember that not everyone needs to take poker seriously to enjoy the game. You may find yourself playing against physicians who are expert in knowing what ailments you have and how to treat them. Wouldn’t it be silly if you asked them a question about your health and they told you how stupid you were for not knowing the answer? Remember that before you criticize a weaker poker opponent for inferior play. To them, poker may not be life and death. You may play for profit, but they may play for fun – and they have every right to do so. In fact, if it weren’t for opponents making inferior plays, where would your money come from? You should respect and cherish weaker foes.
- You can’t prove you’re the best in a short session of poker. Yet many potentially winning players go broke trying to do it. Just play the cards you’re dealt and make smart decisions. The purpose of serious poker isn’t to impress opponents; it’s to win their chips. — DB