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Poker Blog established in 2003 as the first stop for poker news, poker stories, and bad poker advice.

December 30, 2006

Day 6 Update

by G-Rob

There is a glimmer of hope now, a chance the wall is coming down. I think Mr. Blood will crack and my inner strength will overcome his bench-pressed creation. It's day 6 of "The Wager" and I'm cruising along like a champ.

The flaw in Mr. Blood's bet, which I'm surprised he only realized today, is the conflicting intentions and motivations of each participant. He's able to take a break from something he loves and intends to resume as a simple exercise in willpower....I plan to stop doing something that I do NOT enjoy and hope to quit forever.

It's a losing proposition for him and a double win for me.

Strategy and skill are meaningless if we don't properly consider motivation.

Yes, Virgina, this is another post where I write something that has nothing to do with poker and then try to use some non-linear logic to yap about the felt.

Sue me.


I'm intersted in the idea of motivation for several reasons but all over them concern poker.

For example, why worry about making a suave level three move, that perfectly represents a specific hand, against two people who only came here to gamble?

A hand from last night.

Frank the Tank raises the $2BB to $15 and newguy calls. Blood thinks a second, then smooth calls.

The flop is A, 7, 4 rainbow.

Blood checks and Frank bets about 3/4 pot. Newguy calls and Blood, pauses, then smooth calls again.

At exactly that moment, I've got Blood on a set. In fact, I'm absolutely 100% certain he's flopped a set and content to let the two guys with Aces go to war.

The turn is a K and it puts a second heart on the board.

Blood checks again. Now I'm certain he's planning to check raise because of the possible flush draw, and because given the pot, both players will likely call.

Sure enough, Frank bets about half the pot and newguy calls.

Oddly enough, Blood decides to call.

Now I'm watching the river card "knowing" Blood is praying another heart won't fall so he can make a nice value bet on the river.

The river IS, in fact, a blank and sure enough, Blood follows through with an obvious value bet. About $75.

Frank dives DEEP into the tank, long enough that it's obvious that he wants to call, and even more obvious that he has either AQ or AJ. He clearly had a big ace and he would have insta-called with AK.

Finally he calls. Then so does newguy.

"Fools!" I thought, "Blood's set is good!"

Frank then shows his AQ. Newguy shows A4 for flopped 2 pair....Blood just mucks.

He didn't have a set.

The play would have worked on me. It didn't work on these guys though.


I'm always looking for good tells. It's odd that for a long time, when I started playing serious poker, I became convinced that real visible "tells" were mostly myth.

It was all Sklansky pot odds and making "correct" decisions that made a player successful. The old "poker face", I thought, was more a silly myth than a valued tool. But, for some of us, the information found in tells is 100 times more valuable than a specific knowledge of outs and odds.

That said, even people who are aware of specific "Tells" like the way a person bets or looks at the flop, or talks during a hand...(or anything else written in books by Caro or hundreds of others)..often ignore the more general personality tells.

As a friend of mine, a graduate of USC film school, once said, "The only thing that matters for a great character, is WHY?"

In other words, "What's my motivation?"

Poker books often try and tackle this issue with clever nicknames for entire classes of folks, as if every player clings to some Jungian archetype.

Players, and their motivations, are much more individual than that. It help to know the individual, to know what brings them out to the game that particular night, and how that will affect their standard play.

Is this just a chance to get out of the house after a long weekend cooped up with the family?

Is this person playing fast and loose to try and pick up some extra bets because they lost a bundle on the Sunday Night Football game?

I once sat next to a guy who kept the betting form for the following Sunday in his hip pocket all night. During breaks in HIS action, he'd check the form to plan his bets for the following week.

But he wasn't HERE to gamble. He was an addicted gambler for sure, but he was mixing his poker roll with his NFL money and he wanted to KEEP as much as he could for the games he was sure would break his way the next week.

The form said one thing, but his personal motivation was much different. It showed up in the way he played.


Another guy, who often bets hundreds of dollars preflop...pre-DEAL...just for the thrill of gambling will lose 7 or 8 or 9 buyins in 30 minutes. He's ALWAYS welcome at our games. He's playing poker exactly like a man plays blackjack, if that man is really bad at blackjack.

Why does he do it?

He's another gambling addict. This guy ties his play almost directly to his NFL games. The worse it went on Sunday, the worse he plays Tuesday. He's trying to make back as much as he can as fast as he can.

In the few instances that he's gotten really lucky...and won several buyins with that ploy...he's up and out of his seat...headed back home....less than an hour after arriving.

He has NO INTEREST in playing poker.

That's not his motivation.


That's the lesson in my big bet with Mr. Blood.

Know WHY you're betting and WHY you're opponent called the move.

Part of winning is knowing the WHY.

| G-Rob's Thoughts