With people around the world scrambling to figure out the secret to poker's popularity, it's only a matter of time before one of them stumbles on to it, poker is so much fun because it not only allows lying, but actually encourages it.
After all, when attempt to win the pot by making a big bet with absolutely nothing in your hand, you are lying. No, you aren't "betting eight-high no-pair for value," you are lying – plain and simple. "Bluffing" is just a nicer way of putting it. For example, in the sentence, "I know I said I was staying late at work instead of going to the bar, honey, but you know I'm bluffing from time to time!"
Doesn't sound so bad, does it?
Now, you might think that this idea doesn't apply to you because you never bluff. Your betting is sincere enough to wind a watch, and everybody knows it. This still doesn't mean that you don't lie when you play poker.
Like any group of people, poker players have developed their own sayings and expressions, some of which are a little lacking in the honesty department. If, after reading one of the phrases below, you still think you've never lied at the poker table, feel free to take note of the suggested honest translation supplied with each of the following poker not-so-truisms.
#1 "One loose call."
This is one of the absolute favorite things to hear at a poker table. If poker players had a mating call, this would be it. Well, it would probably be part of a more complex courtship song, one that would go something like, "I'm halfway in. One loose call. The turn helped my hand. Gotta keep you honest." You get the idea.
Really, think about all the times you've raised before the flop with a big pocket pair and taken the flop heads up against a player who is in the middle of a 54-hour poker session and is stuck so deep, his total buy-in wouldn't even show up on radar. You bet and he says, "One loose call," before sticking his chips in the pot.
After an absolutely irrelevant card comes on the turn (an offsuit deuce, an upside-down Seven of Pentacles, or that "Hand Rankings for Poker" insert card that nobody ever uses) you, naturally, bet out.
Can you ever remember such a player saying anything along the lines of, "Well, my dear friend, I have given my word that I shall make no further loose calls and verily I shall obey it. My one-in-forty shot at winning double my money in return shall no longer entice me to keep playing, and I fold with all deference due unto an obviously superior hand."
Of course you haven't because they're too busy calling and picking up their chips to call the river!
As a simple guideline to help you remember, bear in mind that the average gambler has 6.4 "one last hands" per session.
Suggested honest translation: "Go ahead and bet, but be warned, the last guy that tried to bluff me is on exhibit in the Smithsonian."
#2 "Nice hand."
Occasionally, this one gets used in a genuine fashion. Picking up the blinds with pocket aces will at least get you this bit of soothing wisdom, but by and large, people never mean "nice hand."
This is not figure skating. There are no style points. We already know it's nice because it won the pot. Celebrating its inner beauty is redundant. This phrase gets used almost exclusively as an empty sentiment; one we say when we'd rather say a hundred different things, none of them flattering.
Suggested honest translation: "If my cat were as lucky as you, I'd be scooping diamonds out of his kitty litter."
#3 "I'm sorry."
No, you aren't.
Hearing someone say "I'm sorry" after they win a pot reminds one of George Carlin's comedy routine about the American Civil War, "Say, excuse me (gunfire). Pardon me (gunfire). I'm sorry (gunfire). Awfully sorry."
When you put your money in the pot, your goal is to win it. When you put your money in the pot and win the pot, you've done exactly what you set out to do. Just because you may have hit the last card in the deck that could help you, it still doesn't mean you need to be sorry because you got exactly what you wanted.
Suggested honest translation: "I'm sorry that you witnessed me drawing to an inside straight flush, now give me my money!"
#4 "Good luck, all-in."
In cash games, this one can occasionally have some honesty behind it. After all, no one likes to go broke and if someone manages to survive when betting their last chips, it might even make the difference between the game staying alive or crashing.
Although it is acceptable to use this phrase in cash games, in a tournament setting if you use this phrase you should be charged with fraud.
How else do you win a tournament except by every other player not having good luck when they are all-in? People have to run out of chips for things to happen in a poker tournament. If you think the World Series of Poker went for a long time this year, imagine how long it would take if the all-in always had good luck? It would have to be decided by "sudden death," except literally in this case!
Suggested honest translation: "I hope I'm still at the table to see you bust out on the bubble."
At the final table of a limit hold'em tournament with six players remaining, the short stack raised under the gun putting himself all-in. Players licked their chops as the big stack reraised the pot and they all folded. Yes, they actually started cheering when the big stack turned over pocket kings. Cheers turned to jeers, however, as the short stack turned over aces. At this point, the other players started chanting in a cult-like fashion, trying to summon the king that would move everyone else up the prize ladder. You could actually hear their volume rising with each card dealt!
After no king appeared, they all groaned in sad rejection as the all-in player survived. Then, two players who felt the need to pierce the uncomfortable feeling of honesty in the air actually had the audacity to turn to the guy with the aces and say, "Nice hand". Hey, if you can't elect a new boss, it's never too late to suck up to the old one.
One good online poker room offering many games where you can practice poker without lying is PokerStars. They have more ring tables and tournaments than at any other online poker room.
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