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“Bigger than a Tuna” by Alan25main

November 13, 2018

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The latest fiction piece by Ronald G. Pittenger highlights the importance of what you tell other poker players with your raising. Read on, and let us know what you think of Bob’s advice!

“Bob, I can’t figure it out. If I get a decent hand, then make a bet, EVERYBODY calls and one of them draws out on the river. It happens almost every time. Does the dealer hate me or something?”

“Nah. You aren’t that important. The dealer doesn’t care, Herky. He just passes out the cards, takes the house rake and, if he’s lucky, gets some tokes. Somebody’s going to win. It just wasn’t you. Tell you what. Buy me a beer and I’ll watch your play for a while. Maybe I can get some ideas from that.”

Three beers and two hours later, Bob and Herky were sitting outside the rail, enjoying their smokes not far from the slot machines. Bob had a spiral notepad sticking out of his shirt pocket; he pulled it out, flipped pages.

“Herky, do you want the good news or the bad news, first?”

“Which is there more of?”


“Good news, first then.”

“Okay. I watched 84 deals. You appear to be getting about the same amount of good hands and bad hands as everyone else. So, the deal is honest.” Herky was visibly waiting for more, but no more was coming.

“That’s it? The deal is honest? What about the hands I won and especially the ones I lost?”

“Of those 84 hands, you saw the flop 49 times. You raised before the flop 22 times, mostly small raises, mostly on Ace-rag or small pairs or low suited connectors. You saw the showdown 26 times and won 12 of them.”

“Is that bad, Bob?”

“No, winning 14%, 15% of deals isn’t a bad win percentage at all. Most of the times there are only five or six players. But a large part of what’s killing your bankroll is the overhead of all those loose calls and preflop raises. You’re trying to play too many hands. So, the very first thing is to learn to be much more selective about the flops you pay money to see. The second lesson is that you have to be a lot more selective about what you’re willing to raise on, preflop.  The third lesson is to stop nuisance raising the minimum; if you’re going to raise, then RAISE. Or, don’t do it at all. All of those are multiplying your costs with no reasonable expectation of getting paid off. A real raise might be a bluff or a big hand; a nuisance raise just says, ‘I have possibilities, but right now they’re weak.’ So, people call your perceived weakness.”

“Bob, are you telling me to bingo bet? That doesn’t sound like you.”

“No, don’t go there. A raise of half-a-pot or pot-size means business without committing your whole stack. Those other guys can get lucky, too, you know. But, if all you do is raise by the amount of the big blind, the only hands that will fold are the ones who would’ve folded without the raise. Furthermore, reopening the betting with a minimum raise creates an opportunity for any sandbagger behind you to come back at you for their whole stack after you’ve already committed. Then, what? Fold or call and take your chances, right? Except, now you’re the underdog.”

“I guess that all makes sense, Bob, but it still doesn’t explain why these guys keep drawing out on me.”

“That’s lesson number four.  The consequence of being both a constant player and a constant nuisance raiser, is that even when you have a real hand, no one believes it. The opponents figure you to be fooling around again, just like you did the 20 times before, so they call your bets. It’s like a guy who bluffs too often always gets called. Sometimes, he wins a monster pot, but mostly he gets caught with air in his hand.

Herky, you must have noticed some guys can bet the minimum and everyone folds. Why is that? Because everyone knows THAT guy never bets without the absolute lock. Their table image is that they ALWAYS have the best hand. When the other players see someone as the Rock of Gibraltar, lesser hands simply fold. Your image, Herky, is chocolate cake, the guy everyone wants a piece of. You play three hands out of five, but only win one out of seven.”

“Are you telling me I’m a fish, Bob?”

“Bigger than a tuna. You’re a manta ray, Herky, an absolute manta ray.”