A UFA Game of Mistakes


How often has this happened to you? You’ve mucked your garbage cards in early position and there is nothing left to do but to watch the other player finish the hand. Because you aren’t emotionally or financially involved in the hand, you can tell EXACTLY what everyone has.

It’s completely obvious to you that one player has the nuts, for instance. And you watch, fascinated, as another player bets into the nut hand with NO outs. To compound the error, the player who is drawing dead now calls a raise on the river to lose even more money.

Before the winner is turned over, you mentally call the winning hand to yourself, and are not at all surprised when the two cards you expected to see are revealed.

Why are hands so easy to read when you’re NOT involved? Good question!

Why are they so hard to read when you have YOUR money in the pot? Another good question.

Poker is a game of mistakes. The player who makes the least misjudgments, misreads and downright DUMB plays is most likely to go home with the cash.

I’m going to give you an exercise that is quite advanced for a change. Every once in a while you should be given a chance to go to another level of UFA play. If you are like most players (myself included), you won’t be able to complete this exercise for long. At best you’ll only be able to manage a few minutes of the exercise before failing.

Here is what I want you to do. One night next week, before you get out of the car in your cardroom parking lot and go in to play, I want you to stop for a few minutes and concentrate. I want you to visualize yourself as you sit behind the wheel. As you see yourself, pretend that you are a director in a movie where you are the star. The movie is about you. Now you are NOT the player, you are the director watching an actor playing you.

Are you still with me? The person that is normally you, now is an actor playing you, ok?

For as long as you can maintain the exercise, watch yourself play poker from a camera angle just over your right shoulder. Within the picture frame, the camera can see all the players at the table and can zoom in on your hand when it is dealt to you.

Instead of you putting your money in the pot, you are watching an actor putting his chips in the pot. Now the camera follows everyone in turn around the table. From this detached point of view, suddenly everyone’s motives for acting are revealed. Including YOURS.

To your amazement, you will find yourself saying about the actor playing you. “Why did he do that? That was so STUPID! The guy in the three seat OBVIOUSLY has the best hand!”

Now as the director, you tell the actor that is playing you to throw the hand away. Of course, the actor does what he is told. The exercise is complete when the player in the three seat turns over EXACTLY the hand the detached, uninvolved you put him on.

You have now done what you couldn’t do before. You’ve played a hand as if you weren’t emotionally and financially involved. And you saved a lot of money.

Don’t expect to be able to maintain this exercise for long. It takes years of practice. But if you can do it even for a few hands a night, the difference in your play can be substantial. Poker will become a game of mistakes for the other players, not you.

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