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The Poker Counselor's Corner (57)

The Poker Counselor's Corner (57) 0001

Editor's Note: In addition to being a poker enthusiast, gambling columnist, and lecturer, John is a National Certified Counselor (NCC). 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

Why do I always seem to get "taught a lesson" when I play poor hands. Last night the table was playing soft and letting lots of limpers see flops. I have 6-8 off suit in early position, I say to myself, "what the heck?" I see the flop for cheap and it is a beauty for me, J-6-8 rainbow. My 2 pair was looking pretty. I get all of my money in against a raiser. He had A-J, which at the time was only top pair with top kicker. The River (of course) brought him an Ace and a better 2 pair. This happens to me all of the time, it seems. Guys hit their junky hands versus my good hands and they hold up for them. When I play bad starting hands I get punished. – Posted by Arzzaa at an online forum

The post allows us to gather that this is No Limit Hold 'em, but we can't be certain if this is a cash game or tournament structure. The thinking behind each of these types of games might play a role in determining how you should be playing your 6-8 against a weak table. But let's move away from breaking down the strategy part of the poker inquiry. Instead, let's focus on the psychology that is intertwined in these sentences. First, I'm wondering about the compulsion that you have to play inferior starting hands. If you did so because you felt that the table conditions warranted loosening your starting hand requirement it would be acceptable. In other words, it is fine to play more "creative" hands if you were certain you could outplay your weaker opponents post-flop, if the pot odds were accurate for a call, if you are playing your good position, if the tournament blind structure leads to a call, if you are playing short-handed, or if you had picked up tells on the players already in the pot. But the motivation behind your poor position with poor cards call seems to be emotional in nature. It reminds me of children who use the feeble excuse that "everybody else is doing it, why shouldn't I?" It is probably a mixture of jealousy, immaturity, boredom, and entitlement that caused you to toss your chips into the middle. When your decisions start off with an emotional ignition at the tables, it should be a huge red flag. Next, the prompt finishes off with a heavy dose of self-pity and disgust. You imply that you feel that you should "deserve" to get lucky, and that everyone else should not. Because this is not the case, you are pitying yourself. I suspect that you are posting this in order to get some sort validation and reassurances from your online buddies. You will not get such mindless support from me. Instead, I ask you to do some serious self-evaluation in terms of poker psychology. Make sure that you have solid intellectual and mathematical reasons for your poker plays, not faulty psychology or emotionality. Take poker one hand at a time, one decision at a time. Your goal is to make a thoughtful, sharp decision each and every time. Never allow your emotions to railroad you and put you on cruise control. Also, quit wasting time bemoaning your poor luck and assuming that everyone else is unfairly getting better luck. Get your mind straight and you are sure to win more and enjoy the game more.

I'm getting bored with televised poker. I haven't watched much at all lately. I'm sick of it. What do you think? - Posted by Rayspep at an online forum

There are a few poker shows out there that are simply poorly produced and poorly presented. I feel like many networks blindly jumped onto the poker bandwagon thinking the sudden interest in the game would assure nice ratings. Really, though, it is not the production quality that is leading to your disinterest. You see, good television is character-driven. From reality shows to sporting events, it is our reactions to the players involved that draws us in. Millions of people watch Fox's American Idol. They do not watch for the beautiful singing. They watch to root for their favorite and against their least favorite. They watch to disagree with Simon and be entertained. Other major sports have long ago grasped this concept. Executives in PGA golf, NASCAR, the NBA, and the NFL are especially adept at producing stars to place into the limelight. They want us tuning in to root for or against Tiger Woods. They love hearing fans boo Jeff Gordon and cheering Dale Earnhart Jr. The NBA is always looking to replace Michael Jordan with young stars like Kobe and LeBron. Although these are sports, their executives know that it is still entertainment. The key is an emotional investment from the onlookers. There must be a rooting interest. Poker must follow suit, getting the stars on stage. Final tables filled with 10 unknown internet qualifiers do not really produce that lasting spark. Poker is best when watchers can root for a player like the universally respected Doyle Brunson and against "villains" like Hellmuth and Matusow. Poker is in need to leadership that can regulate this aspect, pointing televised poker in the right direction to keep us all from getting bored with the product.

Keep those questions coming!!!

Ed Note:Noble Poker has 6 handed single table tournaments that we think are easy pickins...get in on the action

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