Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was originally published (1993) in Card Player magazine under the title “Here’s the most important pro poker secret I have ever told anyone!”
I’m about to share a secret so startling that it might change the way honest professionals play poker Forever.
If you’re playing in home games (or even in some public cardrooms) where the action isn’t closely monitored, you might get cheated. Sure, you already knew that, and that’s not the secret. The most likely way you’ll be cheated is by partnerships where opponents band together to unethically snare your chips. Sometimes this is done simply by sending signals between two (or more) players. Typically, if both hands are playable, the partner with the better hand stays, while the other folds. That’s also not the secret.
Who gets hurt? Partnerships hurt the best players a lot more than they hurt conservative (also known as tight) players. That’s the secret. If you’re in a three-handed game against partners playing “best hand” and you don’t know it, you’ll almost surely lose. But in a eight-handed game, you might still be able to win. In a large-limit game, a skillful tight player might make an, average of $197 an hour for a whole year and feel content. That player might actually have been cheated out of $200 an hour and have, thereby, been robbed of $400,000 in a single year by a single partnership! Those are big numbers, meant to get your attention, but you see the point, right? Just because you’re winning doesn’t mean you’re not being cheated. But notice something else. I said “a skillful tight player might make an average of $197 an hour …” Did you see the word tight?
Now here’s the brutal truth. Sadly, my new research proves—in a most monumental way—that a player who is much better than just tight can get pulverized in the same game where a weaker, tighter player will still prosper. Why? Because of the specific weapons a strong player adds to his arsenal.
The stronger player uses powerful tactics designed to add small profits at great risk against honest opponents. As an example, a seven-card stud player starting with 4-K-4 might raise a late position foe who has a queen exposed. This risky raise can be proven to make a small profit in the long run. But if the player with the queen is in a partnership, this same raise is not only unprofitable, it is hugely unprofitable!
I’ve written about my contempt for poker partners, even suggesting they should be cooked and eaten. Now i want you to think about this: There may be thousands of honest players sitting home, right now, ruined, although they played better than almost-honest tighter players.
The solution. If you, suspect a partnership in your game, quit or play much tighter than you normally would. — MC