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My Psychology of Poker

I have to give a hearty round of applause to Felicia Lee. Felicia is one of those bloggers who I read once a week or every other week, but whenever I do read her blog, I'm always gobbling up information like a Hungry Hungry Hippo on a Poker Knowledge Marble binge.

Recently, she started a series of posts titled the Psychology of Poker. You can read Part 2 through THIS LINK. What an insight! Let me add this to all bloggers out there: if you don't want to discuss strategy on your blog for fear of improving your reader's skills, you have your priorities backwards. I'm no pro, but I like to think that by sharing my strategies and thoughts, I am (a) processing my game better, (b) eliciting opinions to help my game, and (c) sharing the game with likeminded people who I enjoy and not with the general masses I see online or in the poker room.

With that in mind, I'd like to discuss my psychology at live casino poker games. I guess the best way to start is by taking an excerpt from Ms. Felicia:

I try to remain quiet and small. I like it when I come across a table where the men try to crowd me out of my space, so that I am more and more shrunken. I don't talk, I don't try to gain any attention. I usually just put my bets and raises out with one, silent motion. I'm the tiny, little mouse who crept up and stole their cheese.
Felicia, apparently, is the alpha to my omega. It is not that I like to act big and loud. That is hardly the case. But when I'm playing at a table, I can't help but mix it up with the table.

The truth of the matter is that I don't do it intentionally. I get to the table and I can't help but be social, usually making friends with my immediate neighbors and making an enemy across the table within the first hour. By hour four though, I've usually broken down all of those barriers, and everyone is my pal.

Is it an act? Not in the least. I like people...when they are playing poker (otherwise, they can all fuck themselves). Here are a bunch of fellow self-destructive degenerates playing a game for real money! Hey, let's all have fun. A side-effect is that I appear as one of two people. Sometimes, I'm the drunk loose crappy player who is there to gamble. In truth, I'm still playing relatively tight (I'm tighter live than online) and I get action when I want to as the drunk fun guy. Hell, I don't even need to drink to become this guy. It's all about the rush I get when I'm playing the game. When it's live and I'm in a big hand, I can't help but feel, well, high. That is where the name High On Poker came from, after all. In times like this though, I let my comments flow, but I keep my card selection good. People think that friendly and loud and talkative equals loose and/or stupid. They don't get fancy. They don't try to push me off of hands. And they will often call my bets because even though I'm playing tight, all they notice is that I am constantly mixing it up with other players. The fact that I folded doesn't register as quick if I'm also chatting and jokingly ragging on my opponents. A little quip here and there and they don't think, "Hey, he hasn't played a hand in two orbits, but now he is raising." Instead they think, "Hey, here's the loud fun guy, playing for the hell of it. Let's call him and see what's up!"

Then there is the other side of it. As a showboater, I don't mind showing cards, especially if I think it will get respect from the table. A perfect example happened on my last AC trip. My table-buddy, who I just met, was sitting on my right. He was on the button and I was in the BB with QQ. There were a few limpers, and my table-buddy, Pat, raises with KK. I don't know this, so on the button, I re-raise to 22 (1/2 blinds). Only Pat calls. The flop are all unders. I check. He bets 20. I raise to 50. He looks down and goes all in. I fold face-up, showing the QQ. He showed his KK. This is the other Jordan. This is the Jordan that says, oh, by the way, I'm here to take all of your money. I guess the best time to whip out this gem is when you want to show the table that it isn't monkey-time poker. It's a good way to combat people trying to push you around. Make a good play. Show it. Let them think about it. I know in that instance I had a lot of people impressed at the table. It's not my goal to impress them with my skills, but it is my goal to control them psychologically.

I guess, then, where Felicia likes to disappear into the table, I like to run the show, but not as an overlord. Rather, I'm like the carnival clown, keeping things light and fun. When I need to curb some action or show that I'm not just a clown, I can calm the table down by showing my plays. Let them see that there is a brain working behind this idiot's mask.

It's all about tempo, setting up the table, bending them to your will. I want to mix it up with the players because I want them to be mixed up. I want them to have fun and to enjoy losing their money. I want them to think that its a fun game where calling with a less-than-optimal hand is all in good fun. And when I don't want this anymore, when I want them to avoid me, I'll show some strength.

I guess there is nothing new here. I want to get out there for some live poker so I can think about this in a real world setting.

I want to make something else clear, though. I appreciate Felicia's style. In a way, I wish it were mine. It's not easy playing the cruise director, yucking it up. But it is what comes naturally. In the end, that's the best advice I can give. You can't act like someone else. You have to be an extension of yourself. That is the way to success.

posted by Jordan @ 4:35 PM,


At 8:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your famous ....You made the blog links!!

At 4:39 AM, Blogger said...

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