World Series of Poker Europe

Top Five Things You Never Thought You'd Learn From Playing Poker

Top Five Things You Never Thought You'd Learn From Playing Poker 0001

PokerNews hostess Gloria Balding is back. Last month she brought you the "Top Five Things You Won't Find on the Tournament Trail," and this month she is back at it with five things you never thought you'd learn by playing poker.

5. How to operate foreign showers.

Go look at the standard American shower. Now picture it without a door but with three more knobs, a pull cord and various other occasionally shiny things, and you may be close to picturing the bathing area at average international casino destinations. More time than anyone cares to admit has been spent trying to figure out how to turn the damn thing on, not to mention the time spent running in and out of the shower when the water is, at random intervals, too hot, too cold, or brown.

There is always one knob that does absolutely nothing no matter how many times you pull it, push it or cursed at it. There is also always one knob that magically summons hotel staff. If you confuse the shiny useless one with the hotel one, you will find yourself soaped up mid shower with a very confused maid in the bathroom holding a defibrillator asking if “señor is needing anything.” A select group of players forgo this confusion altogether and go for the "Puerto Rican shower" — deodorant and Axe in equal doses. This practice is not justifiable until Puerto Rico gets its own LAPT stop.

4. The fine line between prop bets and felonies.

Books could be filled with the stories of hospital visits by poker players that began with prop bets. Usually, you realize the line between good ol' friendly rivalry and deeds worth prosecuting only after that line has been crossed. The wise player, however, has become quite familiar with the line, usually because he or she is standing on it at any given time. New Orleans, for understandable reasons, is an epicenter for Bourbon Street stories that have involved a slew of offenses ranging from public urination to morbidly public intoxication.

General rule of thumb: if “public” has to be used to describe the undertaking of and how you are to win any given prop bet, save your buy-in and prepare to use it for bail. By all means, take the bet but save the money.

3. Languages

There should be a written rule somewhere that you cannot call yourself a poker pro until you can order a beer and hit on women in at least three languages. Although English is the language of poker in most senses, it is not always useful at hailing a cab at 3 a.m. in Kyiv, or ordering a cheese sandwich in Monte Carlo at any time of day since 1945. It is a sign of your "Carmen San Diego" skills if you can order and get what you ordered without having to raise your voice to the “loud American” category. Let’s face it, more often than not, 85 percent of American flags burned are in response to ugly Americans attempting to order Budweiser in Europe.

2. Slow-rolling customs agents

Any time a player travels abroad, it is best to assume that the last 15 minutes of any flight will be spent rehearsing the story to repeat to customs and passport control when entering the country. The general appearance of the player is key to making the story plausible. Online players, upon deplaning, magically morph into college students taking time off from school to see the world. Team Pros, if dressed in the shiniest Ed Hardy and sporting the latest iPhone, become "nouveau riche" jet-setting to the latest sun spot in a never-ending quest for the perfect tan.

Poker Players with Ph.D.’s transform into sensitive burned out dot com execs looking for the meaning of life. Note: the key in being able to pull off this one is that a copy of On the Road and or Life of Pi must be visible in the carry-on.

It is key in pulling off the story, that large stacks of money not be found in luggage or carry-on. To this end, it is often the case that players on descent troll the plane for fellow travelers to the same event and get them to carry some of the loot for them. You would think this is grounds for easy theft, yet more often than not, beautiful and occasionally lucrative friendships have been born from defying international monetary constraints.

It is absurd though, that the main reason for the play acting is the very simple reason that 98 percent of passport and customs officials have no idea what to do when faced with poker players. The stereotype of back-street hustlers is very much in play here, even when faced with the likes of Jimmy Fricke. In all honesty, most poker players are only threatening to the laws of any land when prop bets are undertaken (see above), yet the hassle and raised eyebrows are enough to turn every player into a mainstream caricature of their real world selves.

1. Money and other assorted financial crap

One of the first rules an astute poker player learns on the journey to "High Roller Land" is bankroll management. Most players falter in this area at least once in their careers; however, two factors have created a de facto financial market outside the realm of comprehension for the most mainstream money men. These factors are (1) the ability to calculate what in regular business terms is profit versus revenue, and (2) the finite need of what amounts to a private wealth of funds to pull from. The irony, then, is that an entirely self-sufficient market is deemed undesirable in the world’s most capitalist countries.

This problem would escape review if numerous financial institutions were not so piqued from their own financial temerity. Likewise, when we have seen worldwide growth in a period that amounts to an economic gale force, the growth only reinforces the fact that bankroll management from the players, all the way up to the largest sites is capitalism at it's best.

I hate to be the kid pointing out that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes, but the bailout of banks can squarely be placed on banks making bad calls with bad cards with even worse pot equity. The most basic player knows when to fold when he cannot afford to play. There is more to be learned from poker players than anyone seems willing to learn.

Want to start learning some of these things yourself? Sign up for an online poker account today, those European showers await.

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