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From the Big Screen to the Final Table: Wall Street

From the Big Screen to the Final Table: Wall Street 0001

Modern cinema is a great tool for teaching poker because it crosses learning barriers in a way that few examples can. All one needs to do is listen to the advice in the lines of a variety of films and then remember their relationship to playing poker. Now this doesn’t mean you can repeatedly use a line from "Goodfellas" in conversation while playing, but it does mean you should keep in mind the concepts that go with the line.

"Wall Street" is arguably one of Oliver Stone's best films, providing an inside look into the world of the real Wall Street. Featuring uber-villain Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas, "Wall Street" takes viewers on a thrill ride through the high-stakes lifestyle of stock traders who buy and sell people's livelihoods on a whim. Possibly the best line in the movie comes from Gekko discussing the takeover of a company called Teldar Paper. The line has many applications to poker.

"The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit."

Pick your game so you can maximize your advantage over other players.

The goal in poker is to be the last person standing, which means you have won all the money. To do this, you need to act like a lion looking for sick prey to cull from a large herd. This means you want to play in games that will enable you to capitalize on the weaker opponents at the table. For some, this may mean coming to a casino early in the morning when players are often tilted or trying to regain what they lost the day before. For others, it means playing in a lower-stakes game so they have plenty of ammunition with which to push around lesser-skilled players. In other words, find a soft game and kill it.

Steal as much as you can.

This is the one time you will hear me say that it is all right to steal. This is a crucial concept if you want to be a winning player over the long run. Although you may not make as much in a pot when your opponent sees the hand through, stealing blinds is a great way to pad your stack; however, be careful against more-skillful players. A repeated pattern of trying to steal blinds will backfire because opponents eventually pick up on your patterns. The best way to avoid showing a tell is to switch things up by not picking on the same player too many times and by remembering that sooner or later you're prey is going to fight back. So make sure you're not always trying to steal with a bluff.

If you see a mark, keep it to yourself.

During games, players often spot weaknesses in an opponent's game. The best thing to do when you spot weakness is keep your mouth shut. You would be surprised at how many players literally give this information back to the opponent either verbally or through responding tells of their own. If opponents are smart, they stop giving off the tell. Keep your observations to yourself and don't let on that you know anything, especially to other players who may try to squeeze in on your action.

For more game improvement tips check out our strategy section, and be sure to follow us on Twitter too.

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