Were you ever bullied as a kid?
I was and so were my two younger brothers, John and Dennis. We had to walk to school about a mile away from our home in Douglas Hollow, PA. To get there, we had to basically run the gauntlet past roving gangs of students who often held us up for our lunches or lunch money.
After a while, we learned to toughen up and fight them. That changed things but for a while, that mile-long walk was a hellish experience!
Poker also has its share of intimidators. They don't use physical violence, but they know how to throw fear into the other players. It happens on a regular basis and it generally starts with the size of their chip stacks.
When I approach a table featuring no limit poker...
...I always look at the size of the chip stacks. That helps me figure out who the probable bullies are in the game.
The other day, for example, I played in a no-limit game at BestBet in Jacksonville, FL. Two players at the table, guys in their 40s, had immense stacks. Oh, oh, I thought, with a hidden style. These guys are out for bear.
When the chip runner came by and asked me how many chips I wanted, I told him $50 worth.
I know what you're probably thinking - David and Goliath.
I mentally envisioned myself as David attacking the giant Goliath with a slingshot. I wasn't heavily armed, but it only took one well-placed rock to subdue my enemy. And that was how I played the opposing players.
It didn't take long for my $50 to grow into $200. And it didn't take much longer before I had over $500 in chips in front of me. I was intimidating the intimidators.
In a poker tournament, every now and then a player will start drinking and will decide to go all in on every hand. This also happened to me last week. It isn't a pleasant experience but on occasion, you will have to face it.
There really is very little you can do with such a player except to wait for a reasonable hand and call his all-in bet. It may knock you out of the tournament, but it could also double you up.
Don't let the intimidators intimidate you. Fight fire with fire. Change things so your opponents back off and let you be the bully!
After many years of playing poker, I have come to the realization that none of the other players at the table know more than I do about the game. Some of them may have as much or nearly as much knowledge than me, but we are basically over the long run going to be dealt the same cards. It's how we play them that counts.
Shuffle up and deal.
Author: Geno Lawrenzi Jr.
(Geno Lawrenzi Jr. is an international journalist, magazine author and ghostwriter and poker player who lives in Phoenx, AZ. He has published 2,000 articles in 50 magazines and 125 newspapers. If you want to share a gambling story or book idea with him, send an email to email@example.com ).
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