Manufacturing hands at the poker table

On slow nights at the poker table, you sometimes have to create your own luck. 

After a frenzied night of tending bar in one of South Tampa’s finer establishments, I walked into the Seminole Hard Rock with a little financial cushion to throw down on some No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em.  However, I sat at the table of choice for the better part of three hours without literally having anything better to play than A-J suited pre-flop.  Not a single pocket pair, no ace and higher, nothing of the sort.  Like I said, slow night, yet I still managed to come out ahead.

Here’s why.

It didn’t take long for me to ascertain the relatively, conservative make-up of the table.  With no monster stacks and no aggressive raisers, it wasn’t long before I decided to test the waters.  It was either that or sit there all night like a bump on a log with blind after valuable blind eroding my chip stack.  I decided to take a shot on a couple of hands that were playable under the circumstances.  Note: before you go trying this at home, there are a few things you should consider before adopting this sort of table behavior.

First, know what the hell you’re doing, always good advice at a poker table, but particularly when you’re entering hands with the odds stacked against you.  Be aware of how much you’re willing to risk, or more appropriately, lose.  To build confidence in your game, you can play online at Old Havana Casino before heading out to the tables.

Second, understand who you’re playing against.  Their chip stacks need draw your attention.  How passive or aggressive have they been playing, and how do they perceive your play?  If you haven’t played a hand in thirty minutes, then all of a sudden throw out a healthy raise, those who have been paying attention are going to put you on a hand, whether you’re holding one or not.

If you’re at a passive table, where everyone is consistently checking around, there’s no reason not to play suited connectors or far worse if you’re in a position to do so.  Ultimately, when you show a winning hand, particularly one you had no business playing in the first place, you can establish a reputation at the table for playing any two cards.  People will think twice before messing with you and that will work to your advantage.  Make them pay for allowing you to play.

That’s exactly what happened the other night.  After a good hour of being dealt an array of mismatched jacks and fours, I decided to stay in one hand with a three and nine of hearts, for no reason other than to have some action.  It’s a hand I would never normally play.

A few players checked in front of me allowing me to limp in for only the blinds.  Their mistake.

The flop brought two hearts, a great flop for me but still no guarantee considering the best I could land was a nine high flush.  I threw a healthy bet into the middle of the table just to test the waters.  Nothing extensive, I just wanted to see what was out there.  Again, even four to a flush, with such low cards, I’m susceptible to losing a nice chunk of change to a higher flush if I decide to chase it.

No heart fell on fourth street but I kept up with the betting.  Only one person called this time, the gentleman to my immediate right.

The river came and much to my elation, a heart hit, but again, no guarantees.   My opponent immediately threw fifty dollars at the pot, making me think.  Was he trying to buy it?  He was clearly representing a higher flush than mine, but had he played that way throughout?  I had the chips to burn and ultimately determined his play wasn’t consistent with that of holding a flush, so I called, and he mucked his hand.  I was the big winner at the casino.

It was at that point that I made sure to show the entire table my pocket three nine.  It raised eyebrows.  And sometimes that’s all it takes.  Even though I legitimately won the hand with a flush, it’s still not a hand anyone would play.

From there on out, my opponents knew I would play any two cards, which I generally don’t unless the need arises, but they don’t need to know that.  Just be careful to use that reputation wisely once you’ve established it.  Otherwise, there’s no need playing that three-nine in the first place.  Other pots can be won as a result if you, ahem… play your cards right.

Such are the dangers of poker.  Of course, it’ll probably be another year before I play two hole cards like that again, although maybe not if I find another passive table on which to prey.

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34 Replies to “Manufacturing hands at the poker table”

  1. Pingback: Manufacturing hands at the poker table - BallHyped, Betting | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. Isn’t this year’s WSOP Main Table ( Final 9 players ) set to resume in a few months ?

    Other than that I’ve not really been taking much note or playing that much .

    Been way too busy with having to take home work and working at home .

    Rays win again and Price is the best thing about the Rays’ pitching this season , bar none !

    So the Celtics sign Courtney Lee and the Magic are in a holding pattern concerning the ultimate destination of Dwight ? What’s this part of one of the deleted scenes from one of the Airplane movies ?

    The Magic won’t any the better off with Anderson Varejao . What the hell are they thinking within the front office ? Oh I forgot those as#holes don’t or act on their gut instinct . They are simply fri##ing morons to begin with !

    How anal retentive are these fans concerning the Jeremy Lin deal ? If they think that his joining the Rockets makes good marketing sense then they clearly have no idea what they’re talking about . Lin as good as he is , he is not and never will be Yao Ming . There might be an uptick in ticket and concession sales but based on predetermined wishes of success it won’t be happening on the basketball court .

    And in terms of competitiveness , the Rockets at best are no better than a sixth seed in the Western Conference. The new makeup of the team with Lin as an addition isn’t as formidable as Daryl Morey would like to believe .

    tophatal …………

  3. Al…

    I don’t watch poker on TV with the regularity that I used to but I did see that Annie Duke made it to the Top 27. Probably brought home a pretty respectable pay day with that finish.

    Price is slowly becoming a legitimate American League Cy Young candidate. If it weren’t for him, this Rays team would REALLY be struggling.

    I saw in one e-mail that the Magic were gunning for some free-agent shooting guard. I clicked on to see who it was and didn’t even recognize the player’s name. That’s how long the Magic have sunk. At least we get good reason to rag on them next season.

    And let’s be real here, Al, the reason Lin was such a great story, aside from his Asian Harvardness, was the fact that he was winning ballgames. If he can’t do that in Houston, no story.

  4. I’m afraid I’ve been known to throw a lot of money at a lousy hand early in the evening just to show the rest of the table (if playing with strangers) that I’m willing to blow up a table with nothing… Many benefits to that when I actually adhere to the Dan Harrington style of play…

    There was a short time in my working life when I took work simply to put food on my family’s table. This led to working security for about 6 months at an Indian casino in Washington State. Now THAT was an education! Actually saved a man’s life one night when he collapsed on the dance floor with a massive heart attack. All the CPR training actually paid off! Anyway… in less than 6 months I had already attained the prestigious rank of sergeant (doesn’t say much for my co-workers!)… Anyway it was at that point that I was allowed in the video room where all the guys running the eyes in the sky hung out and a whole new appreciation of casino life was opened to my eyes. You know, with the exception of the restrooms (at least that’s what they told me), every square foot of not only the casino but also all of their parking areas are under constant surveillance when the Casino is in operation. Those video guys, if a card player wasn’t careful, could read their hands. Then of course there were the women with low cut tops and the zoom feature on those cameras! I’m living up to my name here… Suffice to say, after being a farmer most of my adult life, working in a casino where adults were imbibing alcoholic beverages, losing their inhibitions as well as large amounts of money, and were in close proximity to members of the opposite sex who are doing the same things, it got dicey on a regular basis! I was never so glad to get the hell out of there!

  5. Chris

    Does anyone actually look at Lin’s stats ? 50 plus turnovers through his first 7 games with the Knicks and fans were salivating as if this kid was truly something special . Please !

    Let’s be real he was nothing more than the feel good story of the moment and that was about it ! Can he (Lin) lead a team or any team for that matter to an NBA title ? No he cannot , not unless he’s surrounded with the prerequisite talent and a damn good NBA coach . Is that being constituted in Houston by way of the roster and coaching staff ? I’ll let you be the judge of that . Because in my book that team simply isn’t good enough to challenge the likes of the Lakers , Spurs or Thunder in the postseason , much less the regular season !

    Everyone loves a “feel-good story” but what happens when reality sets in and you begin to realize that this was simply one minuscule moment over what has been in effect a terrific season . That’s the sort of crap the press is now extolling upon us as something that really matters . It is asinine in so many ways that it’s beyond belief !

    The final table should prove to be interesting at the WSOP finale .

    Price should finish in the top three of the AL Cy Young voting . Whether or not he can win it will b e dependent upon the Rays’ year end record and if they make the postseason . It appears more often than not , the voters are swayed by that .

    Speaking of Rays’ pitching sensations , Scott Kazmir , whatever happened to that guy ?

    Came in , in a blaze of glory and fizzled out like a damp squib .


    tophatal ……………….

  6. Chris

    Impress upon me what it is Dwight Howard and his agent Dan Fegan are now trying to do ? This dumb a#s (Howard) has said he’s not prepared to do a sign and trade deal but would rather test the “free agency” market in 2013 .

    Howard is now quickly alienating himself among the general managers and team owners around the NBA .

    Why hasn’t Dwight called upon the services of either John Morgan or Brad Culpepper ? Oh I forgot Culpepper and Morgan are primarily ambulance chasers . Someone break Dwight’s leg , femur or right clavicle , for good measure and then we can perhaps see the player brought to his damn senses . .

    tophatal ……………

  7. Dwin…

    Great stories, man. At least I know who to call the next time I need mouth-to-mouth at the poker table.

    Re: the card game itself, I try to pick and choose my spots to play non-premium hands. I have a bad tendency (no one’s reading, right?) to not give up a hand once I’m committed to it. I’ve worked on fixing that over the years.

    Fortunately, nobody made me pay for holding that 3-9 longer than I should have. Like I said, their loss, as I picked up a pretty healthy pot that hand.

  8. Al…

    That’s exactly my point about Lin, and why I think Dolan and the Knicks may have made the right decision.

    Look, the Knickerbockers don’t need any more marketing. They already sell out all their games. What they need is wins. Playoff wins.

    You’re right about Lin’s stats dropping sharply late in the season, assist to turnover ratio no damn good.

    The Knicks knew that, so why would they lock Lin in for millions upon millions if he wasn’t a sure thing.

    Dolan’s getting heat now but the move may work out… as long as Jason Kidd can stay out of the lock-up.

    And re: the Rays, Al, they have a knack for getting rid of players and having them disappear elsewhere. Not only Kazmir but Garza also comes to mind. It’s not like he’s been lighting it up in Chicago.

  9. Al…

    I’ve officially said all I have to say on all the Dwight drama. I’m not going to pay it any more mind until he finally signs somewhere.

    I mean, I’ve had my moments of indecision before but this is ridiculous.

  10. Chris

    will be an enticing trade bait for someone looking for a solid third or fourth string starter .

    Fegan and Howard , both need a damn bullet between the eyes !

    Dolan is a damn moron ! He’s pretty much ruined Cablevision and as we know the Knicks haven’t been relevant within the NBA as a competitive force in years .

    Woods isn’t doing too badly in The Open at present , which to my mind is the toughest Grand Slam major to play and win . The others are a pale comparison in terms of toughness and that is a proven fact !

    tophatal ………..

  11. Woods isn’t doing too damn bad, Al?!?

    He’s four strokes off the lead, six under for the tourney and has had enough sense to leave the driver in his bag.

    I’d say he’s in contention. A solid third round should have his competitors quivering… at least that’s what the PGA Tour is hoping for.

  12. Al…

    Re: Lin, he may actually post some stout numbers simply because no one on that team will be able to score.

    I’m going to be looking at his field goal percentage. If he’s anything around 42-43% with a high turnover to assist ratio, then the Rockets will struggle to finish around .500, if they’re lucky.

  13. Woods is bangin’ (pardon the pun) .

    Lin may well score and gain perhaps double digit assists but beyond Martin and Lowry that Rockets’ team will be offensively and defensively challenged .

    Are the Rays actually serious about shipping out Wade Davis and AL Rookie of the Year pitcher , Jeremy Hellickson ? If they do that , then they’re essentially bailing on the season .

    Also refer to the following as a fairly reliable source .

    CBS Sports , Navin Vaswani -Buster Olney of ESPN

    ESPN’s Buster Olney on Ryan Dempster, Jeremy Hellickson

    ESPN’s Buster Olney has filed his latest insider-only column, and in it he wrote about the immediate future of Ryan Dempster, and about teams that are looking for control pitchers.

    The Cubs are going to deal Dempster, who has a full no-trade clause and an expiring contract, and one general manager said it’s in Dempster’s best interest to stay in the National League.
    Dempster’s never pitched in the American League and if he gets hit hard, it could cost him in free agency.
    The Dodgers remain the most likely destination for Dempster, Olney wrote.
    Olney confirmed what’s Danny Knobler wrote on Tuesday: the Royals are looking for starting pitching for the immediate future, and for 2013 and 2014.
    The Red Sox are another team looking for non-rental starting pitching help, and Olney speculates on the future of Jon Lester, who “might benefit from a change of scenery.” Lester is under contract in 2013 for $11.625 million, with a team option for 2014 worth $13 million.
    Other controllable pitchers who could be available: James Shields (who could be moved whether the Rays are buying or selling, as reported by Knobler), Josh Johnson, Matt Garza, Wandy Rodriguez, and Jeremy Hellickson.
    Tampa will listen to offers on all players except Evan Longoria, Olney notes, but it would “cost, big-time” for the Royal, or any team, to acquire Hellickson.
    Finally, Olney notes that unhappy Giant Nate Schierholtz could be a fit in the Yankees’ outfield.

    Tags : James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Jon Lester, Josh Johnson, Matt Garza, Nate Schierholtz, Ryan Dempster, Wandy Rodriguez, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, MLB


    That is now the rumor currently floating around as the trade deadline approaches . Your thoughts ?

    MLB news re the Tampa Bay Rays

    We Make A Lot of Money So We Can Spend a Lot Money , Like The Morons That We Are


    tophatal ………….

  14. Woods is playing well, Al, but Adam Scott does not appear willing to give up that lead just yet. Should make some intriguing golf on Sunday.

    I like Hellickson, Al. I think it’d be a mistake to get rid of him. Shields I can see because he’ll be asking for a big contract soon enough but they still have a few years to get away with paying Hellickson cheaply, and we both know that’s how that franchise does things.

  15. I don’t know that Shields will be asking for that big a contract based on his numbers as they are not that stellar . Granted , he has had his moments but do you believe him to be worth in excess of $10 million a year ?

    Hellickson is still under his rookie contract pinned to arbitration so for the moment things would appear to be fine .

    My issue with the Rays is why Friedman and Sternberg have not gone out and perhaps brought in a ” silent partner ” with deep pockets or go the route of Texas Rangers ( two-decade $ 3 billion with a local Fox affiliate ) and have a tie-in with one of the major broadcast outlets , thereby getting a large cash infusion.

    Never mind the fact that as part of the Texas Rangers’ ownership group they have four billionaires seated on their board of directors . That franchise (Rangers) is now far better off than when Tom Hicks owned them or even when ‘Dubya’ was a managing general partner of that baseball franchise .

    If Howard wanted a really good agent why didn’t he call upon you or I ? I am sure we could have provided him with some far more prudent advice than he is now said to be getting !

    Left you a comment about that in my recent piece .

    tophatal ………….

  16. Come on, Al. Since when do players have anything to do with contract negotiations. It doesn’t matter what Shields thinks he’s worth. What matters is what his agent can demand for him on the open market which, yes, I believe would be over ten mil a year.

    Any silent partner that Friedman and Sternberg go into business with would recognize the success in their model but would likely expedite the push to this side of the water, not that that’s a bad thing.

    And there’s oil money in Texas, hence the fat cats behind the Rangers organization.

    Oh, and I was having a pleasant, Dwight-free weekend until you just brought him up. Thanks, man.

  17. Contract negotiations ? Who’d you think was wagging the dog’s tail in the Brees’ deal ? It’s the player not management . In baseball unless the player in question is a marquee talent and that’s been how it works . Think about it . The agent can only do what his client demands of him and not much more than that .

    Shields and his agent knows what he’s worth and it’s a matter of whether or not the Rays are willing to meet the asking price (players’ salaries free agency status) . Given the Rays’ financial morass I am not so sure if Friedman and Sternberg really have what it takes !

    Adam Scott must feel like a real tool ! Those final five holes were really telling for the guy at The Open .

    Good to see Barry Larkin and Ron Santo (posthumously) make it into the Hall of Fame . Will be dropping a piece on that .


  18. Chris

    Belly putters and golfers aren’t in , and they simply look god-damn awful . Belly/ navel rings on hot chics are much better ! Here endeth the lesson and hopefully Adam Scott and can learn something from this all . I hear , he and Jean Van der Velde will be getting together for drinks at a local pub in Lytham St Annes .

    Great to see Larkin and Ron Santo finally get the recognition they rightfully deserve ! Unfortunately , in 2013 the list of players eligible for the Hall of Fame reads like the who’s who list of alleged steroid abusers and users .

    Future Hall of Fame Weekends will usually be held over the last Sunday in July in upcoming years, but not in some cases, including the 2012 Induction Weekend, which is scheduled for July 20-23, with the Induction on July 22. The 2013 Induction Weekend will be held July 26-29 with the Induction on July 28.

    Provided that they remain retired, the following is a partial list of former Major League ballplayers who will become eligible for consideration by the BBWAA for election into the Hall of Fame in upcoming years. Players who are eligible have played 10 seasons of Major League Baseball and have been retired from for five full seasons. For example, those players eligible for consideration in 2013 will have played their final game in 2007. Those players eligible for consideration in 2014 will have last played in 2008, etc.

    2013: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Kenny Lofton, David Wells, Julio Franco, Shawn Green, Steve Finley, Roberto Hernandez, Jeff Cirillo, Jose Valentin, Reggie Sanders, Jeff Conine, Jose Mesa, Royce Clayton, Bob Wickman, Ryan Klesko, Aaron Sele, Woody Williams, Rondell White, Mike Lieberthal, Tony Batista, Mike Stanton, Sandy Alomar Jr., Damian Miller, Todd Walker

    2014: Moises Alou, Armando Benitez, Sean Casey, Jose Cruz Jr., Ray Durham, Damion Easley, Jim Edmonds, Keith Foulke, Eric Gagne, Tom Glavine, Luis Gonzalez, Scott Hatteberg, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, Jeff Kent, Jon Lieber, Esteban Loaiza, Paul Lo Duca, Greg Maddux, Matt Morris, Mike Mussina, Trot Nixon, Hideo Nomo, Jay Payton, Kenny Rogers, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow, Shannon Stewart, Frank Thomas, Mike Timlin, Steve Trachsel, Jose Vidro

    2015: Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone, Paul Byrd, Tony Clark, Carlos Delgado, David Dellucci, Jermaine Dye, Alan Embree, Darin Erstad, Kelvim Escobar, Cliff Floyd, Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Randy Johnson, Mark Loretta, Pedro Martinez, Ramon Martinez, Doug Mientkiewicz, Kevin Millar, Troy Percival, B.J. Ryan, Jason Schmidt, Gary Sheffield, John Smoltz, Julian Tavarez, Jarrod Washburn, David Weathers

    2016: Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark Grudzielanek, Trevor Hoffman, Mike Sweeney, Billy Wagner

    2017: <
    Pat Burrell, Jorge Posada, Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield

  19. Chris

    The real crux of the deal that will add long-term security for the Rangers isn’t oil rich members of their board but the tv deal negotiated by <a href=" Chuck Greenberg (20 yrs $3 billion {$150 million per-yr ]) that the then director negotiated before stepping down ( to my mind he was forced out by Nolan Ryan’s ego). >

    When you have that type of cash infusion guaranteed each season right off the bat you can’t go wrong unless you’re an idiot or either of the following Tim Geithner or Ben Bernanke .

    That duo have done more to ##ck up the country economically than a slew of bank robbers hitting Ft Knox and then hitting each of the major financial institutions on Wall St . .

    The ” Big Easy ” ain’t cheesy …. just ask Adam Scott . Ernie Els is as smooth as a glass of Patron . It goes down real well ……… smooth baby .

    Unlike Scott’s game over the final four holes of the The Open .

    tophatal …….

  20. I need to start playing cards again. I was a poker playing fiend for awhile, and it died a lot when I started working I guess.

  21. Chris

    You were saying about players having anything to do with contract negotiations ? Ichiro to the Yankees ? Tell me, who’s wagging the tail in that deal then ? Don’t be so naive Chris , the players can dictate what they want and how they want it . You seem to forget who has the power within the game .

  22. And oh by the way , the latest on Dwight . The Magic now say they have no intent to trade the disgruntled center . Ha , ha ! Dwight you’ve been punk’d , bit#h

    tophatal ………

  23. I don’t know that I agree with that, Al.

    There’s a market value for each player where precedent has already been set. Sure, the player can sign for less than that amount if he’s so inclined but otherwise, its the agent who’s advising, doing the wheeling and dealing and getting as much money for his player as he can.

    I’m not sure we can blame Scott’s collapse on that putter but he is a little young to be using one of those things. Let’s see if he’s mentally strong enough to bounce back from a loss like that. I don’t think it ranks among the epic collapses in history but it certainly was a tournament that should have been won.

    And we have officially reached the summer of the Hall of Fame’s discontent. Who from that 2013 group is going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer? Biggio? Piazza? Do you mean to tell me those guys are in whereas Bonds and Clemens are not?


  24. Al…

    If you ever find a) a link to how much every baseball team’s television contract is worth and b) how much each of the richer teams gives towards the others through revenue sharing, please let me know.

    That’d be interesting to sift through.

  25. Don’t misunderstand me, Al, I understand the star players hold the cards, possessing a unique talent that others do not.

    But do not discredit the role of the Bert Sugars of the world.

  26. Al….

    So that means Dwight’s going to start off the season in Orlando, huh?

    Can’t wait to hear that rousing ovation he’ll get the first time his name is announced in the new Amway Arena.

    Warm welcome, it won’t be.

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