Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Always Show Your Monsters

A few years back, I was playing poker at Caesars, Las Vegas for the first time. Their card room, a stylish forum meant to host big events, was still quite new. The action was pretty good, although nearly any place in Sin City can produce a respectable game these days. It is a clean, well-lighted place with high ceilings and a great poker atmosphere. There are tons of flat screen televisions lining the walls, which were not on the typical sports or news channels, but constantly cycling through various numbers that I barely noticed.

After a few orbits at a $1/3 NLH game, I was dealt pocket 7s and saw a flop bring…two more 7s. BINGO! When you have the deck completely crippled, like flopping quads, it is very hard to actually get paid. It is a long shot that any one else has anything decent and you are usually lucky to get a token bluffer making a tiny stab at the pot, which is all I earned in this instance. After my opponent folded, I exercised monk-like discipline and quietly slid my cards to the dealer, showing no one.

The following day I learned what a mistake it was to keep my hand a secret. It turns out that the number cycling televisions, that I paid little attention to, were advertising high-hand jackpots. Had I simply turned up my four sevens to show off my luck, I would have won over $300. When I watched an elderly player collect on a made straight flush, all I could think to myself was, “Ugghhh…”

This example doesn’t illustrate the real reason that you should showoff your monster hands. Showing monsters is good for the game. By “monsters,” I am referring to the ultra-rare hands, like quads and straight flushes, not full houses or below. Flashing a monster can help to alleviate some of the tedium of a long session at the table; it energizes the game a bit, particularly those players who are new to the game and play only for the entertainment factor. Furthermore, showing a giant hand like this builds a friendlier table. The friendlier the table, the easier it is to beat. If your opponents are distracted by socializing, they will not play at optimal levels. Seeing you flash your cards will subtly influence them to show theirs and earn you information in the future. Showing your monster also manipulates your table image. People will remember the beast you had in the pocket and give you a little more room to get creative.