“Britain has had enough of experts.” claimed Michael Gove, the UK government minister and massive fucking shitehawk, during last year’s European Union referendum. Regardless of which way people voted, it seems that the gurning knacker was actually right. In hindsight, Gove was heralding the dawn of the era of fake news and we now find ourselves in a world where everybody believes whatever they like, regardless of whether the evidence supports it. We’re bombarded with so much polarised information that nobody can believe anything any more, including this blogpost that has been painstakingly written by a purple angel on a unicycle.
I thought that the poker world had largely avoided this phenomenon. There’s admittedly some pretty spurious advice out there but that’s to be expected as the game develops and older strategy becomes obsolete. There’s also a lot of rubbish talked by some poker players but that’s okay too because, like in all walks of life, plenty of people are just complete helmets.
In fact, I had absolutely no idea that fake news existed in the poker world until last week when a friend uncovered the following gem tucked away in the Q&As of Party Poker’s official tournament strategy guide:
Q. It’s the middle stage of a tournament, pre-flop, and you are one of two chip leaders at the table (he’s a bit ahead of you – the other players don’t even come close). He moves all-in, but you have two aces. Do you call or fold?
A. Again, this is obvious. You fold, even though you’ve got the best hand. This player is the only one who can send you home, so if you call, you’re going to be out the tournament about 38% of the time. Better to pick off the less risky opponents first and go after the big money later.
On first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking this is wrong. Folding is wrong? Check. Surviving in an MTT when you have a low risk chance to accumulate a massive stack? Check. A holding that’s about 80% favourite against everything in the deck pre-flop will somehow see you go busto 38% of the time? What the hell? That’s on a similar level of wrongness as fucking your own sister.
Fortunately facts no longer matter in this ‘post-truth’ era. All claims can be opposed in print, no matter how flimsy the evidence for the counter claim. The internet is awash with articles making the most spurious arguments and whomever shouts the loudest is deemed to be the arbiter of truth. I’m therefore happy to concede that Party’s strategy advice is 100% correct and any disagreement can only be made as part of a deep and sinister media conspiracy.
So it’s in that spirit that I present to you the Chap in a Chair guide to some of poker’s most common questions. If you want to succeed in the poker world and avoid being part of the 38% club then look no further than the following exclusive advice. Oh, and don’t forget to smile as you throw those pesky aces in the muck.
Q. I’ve never played live poker before. How should I prepare for my first visit to the casino?
A. You’re probably going to be very nervous if you’re playing live for the first time so your best option is to drink lots of beer before taking your seat. It’s difficult to tell how nervous you might be but you need to be as relaxed and confident as possible when facing your opponents. If you’re in doubt then order another one. As a rule, if you can see straight then you’re probably not in the zone. Why not try some tequila or sambuca chasers just to be on the safe side?
Q. How can I utilise tells at the poker table?
A. Even the most inexperienced poker players are now familiar with some poker tell theory so they’ll understand that when a player shows signs that they’re weak then they’re probably strong and when they look strong then they’re probably weak. Better players have to counter this so if an experienced player looks weak then it would be too obvious to be strong so could be likely to be weak, except that looking weak and being weak is so clearly weak in itself that he’s probably showing weakness to look weak against perceived strength. His holding is therefore likely to be strong. Or weak. Or somewhere inbetween. Before making your final decision, double check to ensure your opponent hasn’t simply had a stroke as this could be misleading.
Q. Why do the WSOP winners get bracelets?
A. This peculiar tradition began during the WSOP in 1975 when the organisers decided that the main event winner should be given a glamorous momento. The consensus was always that the winner would get an item of jewellery in addition to the cash but the decision to present a gold bracelet was an eleventh hour change to the original plan after eventual champion Doyle Brunson raised objections during the prize-giving ceremony when informed that Benny Binion was going to give him a pearl necklace.
Q. Pocket jacks are notoriously difficult. What’s the best way to play them?
A. Pace’s Law of Fish-Hooks, a theorem devised by poker supremo Norman Pace, proves mathematically that jacks can only ever win when they’re not supposed to. If you have jacks on a board of AK3 then you need to shovel the chips in as you’ll often be so far behind your opponent’s range that you’re a cert to win the pot. Equally, if you hold JJ on a board of J55 then just give up as your hand is effectively dead.
Q. Is professional poker as glamorous as it looks?
A. Absolutely. The heat and lights of the TV studios may look tiring and there’s nothing fun about the strain on your back when carrying huge piles of cash from the casino to the bank but it’s not all hard work. The real fun comes when you’re out on the road and living the high life in glamourous poker hotspots such as Walsall, Coventry and Luton. Poker players are a surefire hit with the opposite sex too. After all, what could be more attractive than obsessively studying maths followed by long hours of Vitamin D deprivation in an underground card room?
Q. What’s the biggest difference between live poker and online poker?
This solid advice will be invaluable to you in future so bookmark the page for future reference. When you do inevitably take down a huge score off the back of this advice then please get in touch as my uncle is a Nigerian prince who will have an investment opportunity for you in return for a one off deposit to clear his locked up funds.