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August 19, 2005

You Have Time

Posted at August 19, 2005 05:34 PM in Poker Strategy , by Sack.

So you're on your way to work enjoying your talk radio during your favorite time of day, rush hour traffic. You are taking the slow and sure way to get there on time, since you are a safe driver... right? And then inevitably here come that maniac flying in behind you, swerving between lanes, using the shoulder, and laughing in his best “evil genius” cackle. Of course, you being the defensive driver that you are, only shake your head and continue on the straight and narrow. Besides, you left early that day since you are a good and productive employee… you have plenty of time.

Several miles down the road you see sweet redemption as the maniac is off on the shoulder on his cel phone wrecked and broke down. You may now have your evil cackle knowing you’ll reach your destination long before he does.

Of course most of us are not that patient driver in the scenario (hey, but I’ll get my license back in 4 months). But this is something I see taking place in tournaments and cash games all the time. It’s hard to sit back and “drive the speed limit” when you see the reckless guy pulling out of sight in the distance. You know the one, he gets lucky on some crazy hand early on and gets some chips in front of him, then slams the gas to the floor raising and betting at everything, pushing all others off the pot slowly building more chips. Then finally someone gets sick of it and calls and he actually does have a hand this time and gains more. All the while you watching and waiting for your premium hand to play like you are supposed to.

This is where it’s easy to get reckless yourself. You feel you must make a move because you are behind this guy by so far, and you are bored just sitting there “stuck in traffic”. So now you play marginal hands trying to force something to happen. Unfortunately more times than not it only results in your stack dwindling down bit by bit, and now if you finally do hit that big hand, your bets effort may only get you back to your original stack.

Remember, usually you have plenty of time. Your stack in relation to another stack, especially early on, isn’t as important as what you have in relation to the blinds. As long as you have enough chips to handle several rounds of betting, there isn’t any need to get desperate. Use the time you are sitting back to watch others, especially the reckless guy, know what he’s been playing with and what his betting patterns are. He’s the guy you’re most likely to get action from when your patience pays off and you do get that premium hand, and you want to get paid off for it. Also when watching him you can learn how to extract chips when you don’t have the hand.

For example, many players like that will use their chips to bully, and fire bets at most pots to force people out of them. Watch when someone else does have a hand. Does the bully fire large bets after the flop, only to check the turn when he is called? Use this to bluff him out later on. If he has a large stack folding one or two hundred chips isn’t that big a deal, but that same amount can be a big help to you if you have been patient an unable to play many hands up to that point. Even small pots yield a return of an extra couple of blinds to afford to hopefully catch that payoff hand.

More times than not you’ll see that reckless guy get snuffed out eventually, and if you have been patient and watching him the whole time, maybe you’ll be the guy that gets to run him off the road. Don’t forget to raise a finger to him as he exits the table courtesy of you, or just smile politely… either way is good.

You can get crazy and reckless if you want to, but you are always running the risk of wrecking or getting caught in a speed trap. Follow the basic rules of the road (and poker) and you’ll find yourself at work on time…. and getting paid for it.

Stilla Thrilla,