Poker Faces : Who is in Your Cast?

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.”

Recognizing the cast of characters at your table is one of the skills you need to be a winner. Who is playing the role of the director (the table captain)? The damsel in distress (on tilt)? Who is the hero (grabbing all the chips)? The villain (check-raiser)? And which one are you?

Some players write their scripts and design roles they will enact at the table, ones that will give them a competitive edge. Although the cast varies from stage to stage, you probably have met all of the following characters. Perhaps you’ll even recognize yourself.

Reckless Rick: For the past two days Rick has been going good. He found a hot Blackjack table and rode it to the max. He hit a round robin with the books and also hit a big tri. He has a bundle on his person and just “knows” that his long-shots (losing hands) will come in at the wire. So Rick plays with abandon, raising with rags and ready to sink or swim on every pot he enters. You will sink with him if you fall into his maelstrom of mayhem. His cousins – Loose Les and Action Al – also will be pushing your head underwater.

Tight Tom: Tom wears a thick silver-and-black watch with an alarm function. About once every hour, he enters a hand. When he hears the beep-beep of his timepiece, he takes a break. When he’s winning chips, Tom travels. If you’ve got the nuts and he bets first, just call… you and Tom are tied.

Hot Henry: When Henry gets hot, look out. He is a dreamer, and today his dreams are coming true. He’s on a roll, raking in a Mount Everest of chips. He’s ramming and jamming and joking and toking the dealers big-time. Will it never end? When his heat wave begins to melt your nerves, it may be a good time to buy that upscale tube of toothpaste you saw at Wal-Mart. Better to donate $5 to your teeth than to have Henry’s sink further into you.

Passive Peter: Peter’s prime poker ploy is the check and call. He’s not ready yet to conquer the finer points of betting. You can count on him to call with his high straight (raising is risky); check his king-high flush (you can’t be too careful); and (possibly) bet on his nut-full house. Peter’s a real pussy cat with anything but the nuts, especially when he’s challenged by a mean, stiff, big bad dog who aggressively raises him.

Slow-playin’ Sid: On the flop, Sid checks the nuts and calls the bet. Ditto on the turn. But the bettor falls flat on his face when Sid check-raises on the river, luring the bettor and all other errant bugs into his web of deceit. Once you catch him in this technique, you must ask yourself, “What could Sid be calling me with?” Often it is the nuts.

Rookie Rhonda: She was told to just look at her cards and, if she likes them, to bet. So Rhonda does. She doesn’t know what she has, but neither does the rest of the cast. They all look at one another as Rhonda hauls in the loot when four diamonds appear on the board and she is holding the six of diamonds along with the 10 of clubs. But, as fate would have it, Rhonda’s good fortune fades fast. The money she has won is like a temporary loan that, in good time, is returned to its creditors with interest.

Expert Elizabeth: If you’re in a game with Elizabeth, you have to examine your chips carefully – they are likely to disappear fast. Elizabeth is alert, she’s up money, and she’s dangerous to your bankroll. You’ll see her folding when she thinks she’s beat and maximizing all of her winning hands. You’ll also see her walking out the door when she thinks she’s won enough, or lost enough. Elizabeth can become your poker coach, although you’ll have to pay close attention. She may talk to you about fine wine, but she won’t offer any poker advice. Observe her moves.

Wise Willy: No one ever sees this illusive character on stage. That’s because he is silent, invisible to every actor. You see, Wise Willy is the wisdom within each of us, the small voice of experience that always gives us sound advice. He warns us when we make a bad move, applauds us when we do it right, reminds us when we need to ease up or ease out. Willy is the stage prompt – the voice that whispers in your poker ear, the part of you that intuitively knows the right move to make. The trick is to make it. When you do, you have that edge we all look for.

Internet poker is alive and well, and it is a fun and relaxing way to kill a few hours.

Good luck.

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