Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published (2012) in Poker Player newspaper.
In this self-interview, I’ve instructed the interviewer to ask questions about poker that can be responded to briefly. So, we’re focusing on short answers and more questions today.
Question 1: How do you personally prepare to win before you enter a poker game?
I don’t. I expect to win, but I don’t prepare. My preparation is in all the research and analysis I’ve done in previous years.
For most players, it would be a good idea to take a few minutes to remind themselves of their goals and to consider what they know about the opponents they’re about to face. Personally, I don’t do that, but maybe I should.
Question 2: Name the biggest destroyer of poker bankrolls?
Ask me at different times and I might give different answers. There are several key candidates. Right now, poor game selection comes to mind as the biggest destroyer.
Question 3: Why?
It’s because there’s only one way to win at poker.
Question 4: I don’t get it. That answer might be too short. What’s the one way to win? And what does that have to do with poor game selection being the biggest destroyer of poker bankrolls?
Simple. The only way to win at poker in the long run is to play against weaker opponents. There’s no other source of profit possible. So, if you’re a superior player, but fail to choose those weaker opponents, you’ll fare worse than a less-accomplished player who consistently chooses games with inferior opponents.
Question 5: Got it. You said there was more than one candidate for biggest bankroll destroyer. What’s another one?
Tilt. The word “tilt” means losing emotional control, usually because of misfortune at the poker table. When you lose emotional control, you play bad and lose money.
Question 6: Obviously true. But every player seems to face tilt sometimes. What can you do about it?
Since almost all players take turns going on tilt, one mission should be to skip your turn.
Another mission should be to enter a game with the goal of making correct decisions Pretend that the money results don’t matter. If you consistently make correct decisions, you’ve done your job and the results will eventually pay you for doing it.
Question 7: What’s the least-profitable poker tactic?
Question 8: That was short. Why is bluffing not profitable?
Most opponents come to the table hoping to be in action – to play hands, to bet, and to call. Since they have a bias toward calling, betting big hands automatically earns more money than it should in a more intelligent universe. And bluffing loses money, because opponents call too often.
Question 9: Are you saying that serious players shouldn’t bluff at all?
There are times to bluff. You can make money by attempting bluffs against rare opponents who have demonstrated an unusual willingness to fold. You can also sometimes bluff as advertising. You can bluff against players who are short on money or when the cards and the sequence of action make a bluff more believable. Otherwise, don’t.
Question 10: What’s the most important tell in poker?
Again, there are several candidates. But what comes to mind now is the suddenly-shaking-hand tell. You can save a great deal of money, especially in no-limit games, by folding anything other than a monster hand whenever you see it.
Question 11: Is this shaking-hand tell acted?
No. Players tend not to embarrass themselves by pretending to shake. If an opponent has previously been steady and suddenly shows tremors, even small ones, that’s a release of tension after the suspense ends. You’re facing a big hand. Opponents don’t convey nervousness when they bluff. So, when you see it, fold.
Question 12: Okay, so what mannerisms do opponents display when they bluff?
Almost none. Typically, they’re afraid that you’ll be suspicious and call. So, they freeze. Sometimes they hardly breathe. Sometimes they don’t breathe at all.
The more animated and talkative an opponent is, the more likely it is that you’re against a superior hand and should fold. The more frozen an opponent seems, the more likely it is that you’re against a bluff and should call.
Question 13: Any advice for players who play as poker partners?
Stay out of my game. Stay out of poker. Smoke lots of cigarettes.
Question 14: Anything else you’d like to add?
In short, no.— MC