Dear Poker Guru,
I’m a regular player on 888Poker, though occasionally I’ll try my hand in a bricks-and-mortar casino cash game or tournament as a way of honing my poker-playing skills – such as they are!
Unlike the online version, I’ve noticed just how unpredictable players can be when they’re busted out of a game. This might sound odd, but such is their reaction that I sometimes feel a bit sorry for theses guys, especially if their elimination is attributable to me.
Is there some form of poker etiquette which says I should apologise if I took them out with a bad beat? I wondered too whether I should shake their hand as they leave the table, even if I didn't particularly like the guy?
You’re right about players’ reaction: some storm off enraged, others accept defeat with grace and understanding, conscious that it’s all part of the game, although there is no precise protocol when a player exits.
You may have heard the old adage that poker is not about making friends, but there’s little doubt that the game’s social element is part of its appeal. This would suggest that there’s is no real benefit in making enemies at the table and that we shouldn’t be too worried about spending time contemplating how to console a player who’s just lost. Would your opponent commiserate with you if the tables were turned? I suspect not.
By all means be sincere: don’t gloat and if a handshake is called for after what has been an enjoyable battle, then so be it. However, there’s no need for you to be upset that you won, so don’t pretend that you are; your opponent will probably appreciate it more than feigned sorrow.
The Poker Guru
Dear Poker Guru,
I wonder whether it would it be a sign of confidence or of a reckless player to over-estimate his playing ability? A few times recently, I’ve played hands to the bitter end (and lost) believing I could still turn things around when perhaps the clever thing to do would be to lay the cards down and wait for a fresh hand.
Good question. It’s an undeniable fact that the more considered poker player pays constant attention to his odds, table position and, most crucially, to his opponents. It’s a checklist to which the careless player will seldom adhere.
Instead, the reckless sort takes little else into account; he misses his opponent’s tells and plays as though he knows everything about the game. He believes his poker knowledge cannot be surpassed, but even the greatest players always feel there is something they can learn. There is nothing wrong in being confident at the table, but confidence should be tempered with respect for your opponents; do not underestimate their ability nor over-estimate your own.
The encouraging thing is that you’ve realised that you might be a tad over-eager on occasion; so lay down those second best hands, continue to pay attention and, as you strike me as being a considered player (otherwise you wouldn’t have emailed me your question), I suspect your game will continue to improve as you focus on getting the basics right.
The Poker Guru