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The Poker Counselor's Corner (18)

The Poker Counselor's Corner (18) 0001

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

When I go to the casino in Atlantic City to play, I play entirely different than online. It is like I'm more conservative in real live games than I am online. What should I do? - Travis T. from Delaware

So, your question implies that you feel as if you are too conservative in the casino games. In other words, you think you are playing overly tight in live cash games and getting bluffed off of pots. I find that most players play too loose during online games. I suppose that it comes via the natural anonymity of the internet. You feel safe in your own home, and that perceived comfort allows you to take chances. It sounds like you need to experience some of this comfort while in the casino cardroom. Start off by checking out the cardroom before you sit down to play. Take 10 minutes or more to be a railbird. Take a spot near the table limits that you are likely to play, and observe the flow of play. As you take it in, "psych" yourself up for the contest at hand. Assure yourself that you will stay focused and make good decisions. Talk with some other players as they wait for their game or as they exit. Interact with the dealers and managers that are not busy. Be sure that you understand their bad beat jackpots, incentive programs (comps), and house rules. The more information you hold, the more power you will perceive. When you take your seat at the table, I'd suggest that you don't post your blind right away. Take a few hands out and wait for the big blind to come around to you. This will allow you time to observe your opposition while getting used to the speed of the game, the dealer, the raises, etc. During play, check your overall confidence level. Try a button raise to steal the blinds, if the opportunity presents itself. If you sense weakness from your opponent, put out a bluff to test your instincts. As you meet some successes, your comfort level will rise. Soon, you will feel right at home, even away from home.

It aggravates me when players take an eternity to make decisions at the table. How can it take so long to choose to call, fold, or raise? Should I be asking the dealer and floorman to keep things moving? -Brent from Los Angeles

Some players make quick decisions. Others are habitually slow in their choices. It is just part of their style. I suppose that those who are slow on a consistent basis are trying to thoroughly inspect all of the information that has been made available: past hands, bets in this hand, possible tells, bankrolls, position, etc. In cash games (where blinds don't increase), their monotonous play may be nothing but an annoyance. In tournament play, where the blinds are raised every 20-20 minutes, they may be employing this strategy to squeeze the shorter stacks. Either way, you are within your rights to complain and ask for a monitoring clock. Know that doing so will inevitably put a target squarely on your back. It will be blatantly apparent that slow play unnerves you. Thus, you can expect several opponents to stall when making decisions during your hands. The extra time may cause you to become uncomfortable and impatient, causing you to show emotions and possibly ooze a tell. Your hastiness to speed up play after a long wait may cause you to make a poor move, as well. So, don't allow their play to affect yours. Stay the course and work through the delays. It may be a good exercise for you to challenge yourself and your patience.


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