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The Poker Counselor's Corner (14)

The Poker Counselor's Corner (14) 0001

Editor's Note: In addition to being a poker enthusiast, gambling columnist, and lecturer, John is a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and practices in his home state of Pennsylvania. He has a Master of Arts degree in Counseling from West Virginia University, and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Lock Haven University. You can arrange for interviews, speaking engagements, or ask your question to "the Poker Counselor" at

I've been playing different types of holdem for 3 years. For the last year, though, I've devoted 40 hours a week playing low stakes limit holdem out of interest to positional play. I've come to the place where I see having an overall game or "style" but I am feeling frustrated with how ego plays a part. I can chalk my problems up to the "poker read" but the players I'm playing really aren't that great. So, its up to me but can you help? -Posted by GiantsNtoy at forum

You are very likely to meet frustration as you labor away at the lowest limit games. With so little money at stake, you will inevitably run across tons of opponents who will inevitably overplay their draws and misplay their hands. With so many odd calls you can only expect them to often get lucky on the River card to beat you. I also find that position is less of an effective tool in lower limits, as your raises hold so much less weight because they are naturally smallish. It is actually psychological in nature. Many emotions compel your opponents to call you down - curiosity (just to see if you are bluffing), "machismo" (just to not let you "push them around"), hope (wishing they catch their lucky one outer on the River), tilt (frustration from previous losses), and even just a lack of innate skill at the game of poker. What you need to be able to balance is the appropriate raise that effectively overrides those emotional desires to call. In the lower limit games, this may be simply impossible to do on a consistent basis. This is exactly why play free games (play money and free rolls) is not a great indicator of a player's ability or style. When substantial money is on the line, everyone's outlook and play is altered greatly. With as many hours logged as you state, you must harness you confidence to take the next step up in levels. Challenge yourself, and I'll bet that you reignite that vigor and desire you had for the game. Go ahead and chalk the last year up to valuable experience. I am certain that your game has improved dramatically over those 10,000's of logged hands. It's time for you to attack the next level and relish in your successes while learning from your losses. Come back here to the forum to give us updates along the way, because I am confident you will do great things at the table.

Is the poker fad fading? Last year, my home game used to have 3-4 tables each month. I've gone from having 30 or more every time to barely getting 8 players nowadays. People just are not as excited about poker anymore. -emailed by Charles

I suppose the true answer is "yes" and "no." I'm typing this reply in my hotel room on the Vegas strip. The World Series tourneys at the Rio are overflowing with press and onlookers crowding in every available inch. On the strip and downtown, every casino is hopping with action in their given poker rooms. Many casinos have just added and/or expanded their poker rooms in the last few months due to rising popularity. Unless it was a Friday or Saturday night, I never remember waiting lists for ring games. Now I see guys so desperate to get to a table that they are offering players money for their playing spot! I play at a few different online sites, and each never seems to be hurting for action. TV ratings are great for the WPT and will be great for the WSOP on ESPN, I'm sure. That being said, I suppose poker is alive and strong for the "yes" argument.

On the other side, I do see the enhancement fading for many players who've been enticed by TV coverage and home games over the past couple of years. Poker takes so much time, focus, and effort, that recreational players are starting to find themselves overmatched. Because they have not been pouring themselves into online play, reading poker books, and getting poker instruction through poker magazines and websites, they are losing more than they are winning. Nobody wants to be a consistent loser at whatever they do. We want and expect to meet success. It is part of the psychology that keeps us driven. The appeal of the fun competition and chance for "easy money" is no longer their reality. That being said, I'd guess that those 20 players that no longer attend your home game are "getting over" the poker fad. They may check out an episode or two of a poker tourney if they happen across it on a lazy Saturday afternoon, but they may never have the same fire that they did for poker at the height of their curiosity. On the other hand, the 8 that still come to your home game may be poker guys/gals for life. It has tapped into the core of their selves, and they may never look back. Enough players have been struck by the game to assure the poker rooms will stay very busy for a very, very long time. I know I jumped around in these two paragraphs, so allow me to summarize. While the poker fad has faded for some/many, legions of engrossed new poker fans will never consider poker a fad. They will continue to see poker as a major part of their life.


Ed Note: Do you want to chat in your own language at the poker table? Everest Poker's software allows you to see chat in many different languages.

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