Monday, August 26, 2013

Bug's Poker Tip #31

Be a Folding Polar Bear

When animals--and almost all normal people--face a physical threat, their bodies go rigid. From a physiological standpoint it's not efficient, but it's the general rule. Polar bears are the exception. They can lie in wait, perfectly relaxed, for two hours without once releasing the heightened readiness of [waiting for a seal to appear.] 

There is interaction if there is a call for it, no interaction if there is no call for it.
-Zen Master Yangshan

You've been folding a lot. You sat down an hour ago, the table is full of rich fish giving their money away, and all you have to show for your time is a slow dribbling away of your stack to the blinds. Everybody except you has gotten playable cards. Your butt is numb. Your mind is starting to wander. You're bored silly*. You're starting to think that maybe it's time you got in there and started playing hands again.... Bzzzzt! Folks, this is not reason enough. Keep folding. Yes, there is a poker axiom that says action begets action, and that you're less likely to get paid if your opponents see you as a nit, but when you're seriously card dead in a low- or mid-stakes cash game, 99 times out of 100, it's better to just wait for a spot than try to force the action. Just because you folded 99 times in a row, doesn't mean you shouldn't also fold the next ninety-nine. Poker is a game of patience, of waiting for plus-EV opportunities, of picking your spots-- and then pouncing like a hungry polar bear. Or, as Larry Phillips says in Zen and the Art of Poker, "Some players think there is some kind of statute of limitations on folding. After two hours, you've paid your dues-- you've proven that you're a disciplined player. So now you've earned the right to play again, right? Nope. Keep folding." 'Nuff said.


All-in for now...
-Bug
*You should never be bored in a poker game, even if you're a folding fanatic. When you're not involved in a poker hand, you should be paying attention to the action at the table, putting players on their hands, figuring out who's tilting, who's feeling cocky, who is ready to leave, who is looking for action... and so on. If you're bored at a poker table, you're doing something seriously wrong.

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