Previous Poker Politico articles have gone into detail about the “unwritten” rules of poker AKA poker etiquette. Even though the Poker Politico nation would never break these rules, we all know they are broken by players in poker rooms all over the world. The fact is we must not only simply deal with these players, rather we need to be able to thrive in a sea full of them.
Last week, I had the opportunity to play against one such individual. I was at a 2-5 game in Jacksonville, Florida. My opponent to my left was super loud and rude. Anybody watching the game could have seen that he was also the weakest player at the table. I had pocket Kings, and re-raised my opponent to $125 pre-flop. Long story short, I flopped top set, while my opponent flopped bottom set of 3’s. After a great deal of acting on his part after the flop, he shipped all of his chips into the pot. I obviously snap called the additional $500 with my top set. When the board ran out, he stood up like he was walking away. He grabbed his cards like he was going to fold them and announced, “You win, I missed!”. I was not supposed to flip over my cards until he flipped his cards since I called his all in bet. I decided not to push the subject, and rolled over my top set. He and I were both in awe of what we saw. He had a set, which is extremely strong, and was planning to put the biggest slow roll on me of my life. He was such a bad player, that he did not even realize that he could have been drawing virtually dead to my higher set. In his mind, he was going to slow roll me, and take down the pot in a most unsportsmanlike fashion. Sweet justice!! I scooped a rather large pot.
Though his attempt to slow roll me failed miserably, I could have had two pair or a pair of Aces and been behind. In those situations, his slow roll would have worked and I would have been furious at his bad etiquette.
We can’t choose to have all the players at our table to be polite, and follow proper poker etiquette. Often times, these are the inexperienced players whom we want to play against the most.
How can we play in these profitable places while maintaining our sanity with the ‘crazies’? Here are three important things to remember when playing with these people. If you try to focus on these points when the sparks are flying, you will find yourself being able to capitalize on many of your opponent’s mistakes that might not have been clear to you before.
1) You can’t convince a crazy person that they are crazy.
This is a good rule for the poker table that the Poker Politico nation can apply to life in general. It is futile to try to teach a player who behaves using poor etiquette that they are wrong for behaving this way. You can rest assured that you are not the first person to say anything to them about their behavior. You can also bet the house that they will not take to heart what you say anyway.
2) Not every insult deserves a response.
Nothing will be gained by you responding to poor poker etiquette. As previously stated, these ‘crazies’ will not change their behavior in light of your words. Do not confront the player who is acting in poor taste. Remember, these are often the weakest players at the table. Rarely will very experienced players play this way, so you are probably playing against a fairly inexperienced opponent. We must not chase these players away!
3) These players do not understand that these actions reflect badly on them.
Poor players do not understand the severity of their actions. If they slow roll you, they might not realize that action is in bad taste. You should therefore not view the rude action as a personal slight. Accept the bad etiquette as part of the cost of doing business and move on.
These three rules are often easier stated than followed. Remember that the best thing to do at a table when you sense yourself even slightly frustrated is to get up and take a break. The poker table will still be there when you return, I promise.
If you are interested in learning to deal with many of the tilt related mental blocks that inevitably exist in your game, I recommend reading “Your Worst Poker Enemy”, by Dr. Alan Schoonmaker. This is a great book that can help players of all levels master the psychological side of poker. We often times destroy ourselves at the poker table better than any opponent ever could. It is important that the Poker Politico nation is taking advantage of these rampant mistakes made by your opponents. Don’t let them take advantage of you!