The most important decisions we make as poker players begin before the first card is dealt to us. Two critical decisions that affect your potential profit the most are table selection and opponent/position selection. At the Poker Politico, we think it is best to illustrate this point by telling the ancient poker lore about the story of “Evil Mordy and Beam Tolliver”. The lessons we should take away from the story are described directly below the true tale. Enjoy!!
Once upon a time, in a land far far away……the Evil Mordy, a used computer salesman, stumbled upon a magical genie lamp. He rubbed it, and a genie named Jardel came out. This was not a normal genie, rather Jardel was a grotesque female genie. She had the hideous appearance of a combination between Roseanne Barr and Rodney Dangerfield. She gave Evil Mordy two wishes. First he said that he wished to become a great poker player. Jardel the Genie granted him this wish. She said, “I will make you the 6th best poker player in the entire world. With these poker skills you should be able to amass a fortune beyond your wildest imagination”.
His second wish was especially malevolent and cruel. Evil Mordy derived his happiness in watching and hoping for the failure of others. Evil Mordy was insanely jealous of another townsperson named Beam Tolliver, who was always very happy with his life and adored by the townspeople. Beam Tolliver, a baker of modest means, yearned to make enough money playing poker at night to buy the bakery where he worked before it was forced to close its doors by the bank. For Evil Mordy’s second wish, he asked Jardel the Genie to ensure that Beam Tolliver could never become a great poker player. The genie granted him this second wish. The genie said, “Beam Tolliver will never be able to play poker above a mediocre level. No matter how much he studies and learns, he will only be a middle of the road player”. Evil Mordy callously giggled with glee at Jardel’s the Genie’s words. With the fortune that Evil Mordy amassed with his newly gifted skills, he would buy the bakery that Beam Tolliver worked at and board the doors shut. This tragically would leave Beam Tolliver without a job and his family to starve. Evil Mordy continued his dainty skipping routine for the rest of that day, repugnantly laughing the whole time.
Beam Tolliver studied poker material night and day, so he could make enough money to buy the bakery before the Evil Mordy could buy it first and board the doors shut. Unfortunately, he had been cursed by Mordy to not be able to become a great player but he never wavered in his confidence that he would make enough money to save the bakery he loved so dearly.
Evil Mordy used money he stole from the town orphanage and baby penguin sanctuary as a bankroll to begin applying his new amazing skill set to amass riches in poker. He heard of a game where the best players in the world go, and they played for big money! The other five players at the game were known as The Fearsome Five, and were the best five poker players in the world. He couldn’t resist his ego and decided that is the game he would play and beat. He sat down at the last empty seat of the six handed game. For some reason, he could not win a hand to save his life!! Every hand, every session, everyday, the evil Mordy would lose. His massive ego would not allow him to leave this game and simply go down the street to the poker games with players much less talented. Eventually, he lost every last penny. Poker lore knows him as the ‘6th Best Player in the World and The Fearsome Five’. He became a beggar on the street and eventually entered the dark underworld of male street walking.
Meanwhile, Beam Tolliver decided it was time to put his mediocre poker skill set to use. Unlike the Evil Mordy, Beam Tolliver kept his ego in check and had no darkness in his heart. He searched the lands far and wide for poker tables with terrible poker players whose skills were less developed than his own. He found these to be very plentiful. Once seated at the table, he would pick the worst two players and try to play only against them, rather than attempting to beat the best players at the game. His mediocre skill set was far better than the technique of the two worst players he was competing against in these easier, more profitable games. In this way he was able to generate a very high hourly rate, and a rate much higher than the Evil Mordy was able to generate back in his days of fast moving used computer sales. Beam Tolliver used the money to buy the bakery from the bank.
His bakery became extremely successful. Beam Tolliver was able to provide financial security and happiness to his family, his two main goals in life. His hourly rate was so high that he had much wealth to spare. He decided that since the money was of little importance to him, he would save the Evil Mordy from his bleak existence and he offered the beggar a job selling used pagers at a kiosk outside his bakery. Evil Mordy named it “Hit me on my hip” and it became a modestly successful business.
Everyone lived happily ever after…
The moral of this story is that the competition we play hands against is the single biggest factor in our profitability. The first and most important decision to make in any given session is which table to sit down and play. If you play poker in casinos, you likely have many tables to choose from. Don’t put yourself on the players list until you have walked through the room and seen which tables look like the most profitable. Commonly the floor person has multiple choices of available seats at different tables. If you don’t ask them what is available, they will just send you to the first one on their list. Once you get a seat, assess the table again more thoroughly. If you were given an unfavorable table, immediately ask the floor person to be on the table change list for a table that you surveyed and concluded is profitable.
Upon first being seated at the table you want, it is important to select which opponents are weakest. These need to be the players you constantly seek to get in hands with. If they limp and you think you can isolate them with a raise, then do it!! This should certainly be an area of focus for home game players that are stuck with only one table to play. Don’t go overboard and widen your hand range too much. Make sure the hands you are playing against these fish have positive value. Just try to isolate them whenever possible.
As poker players, most of our money comes from the mistakes made by our opponents. Why would you not try to mainly play pots with the players who are constantly making critical mistakes? Too often, ego gets in the way, and players like to try and take down the ‘big stack’ or the tough aggressive player who stands out, while totally missing the loose passive “fish in a barrel” that is floundering right next them.
Don’t be an Evil Mordy. Be the Beam Tolliver!!
Written by: Jason Bloom
July 6th, 2015