Let’s play some, uh……I don’t know

June 7, 2008

Have you ever fallen into the trap of being too lazy to play well? Sounds ridiculous, right? Good poker players know how to capitalize on situational betting, they know how to read the way another person plays, they know their cards and they know how to bluff. Good poker players take pride in better themselves in all of these skills. So why would you even bother sitting down to play cards in the first place if you’re just going to become complacent about the task at hand?

Surely one can still have fun at the table while putting in the “work” to make sure they’re capitalizing on every advantage afforded to them. Surely they’re up to the challenge of taking their opponents’ money?

Yeah, yeah, it’s all true. But I’ll be honest. Sometimes I’m just too lazy to do any of that stuff. I won’t say it reaches th same level of apathetic play as going in blind over and over again – why would anyone do that? :) – but playing “lazy” can be just as bad, and almost like an amateur player at a blackjack table, can end up screwing things up for everyone else in the process.

Still, though, I admit to the practice. I mean, sometimes it’s just easier, especially if you’ve had a few drinks, to throw caution to the wind and play like you just don’t care. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.

1.) Avoiding eye contact: I wouldn’t think that reading people or identifying tells would be as prevalent in home games as it would in a casino, especially not as much as something like identifying a playing pattern, but it can be a useful tool nontheless, particularly if the game is in a Hold ‘Em tournament format. And, of course, to read someone, you generally want to be looking at them. But if you’re lazy, it’s easier just to slump down in your seat, glare at your own cards or fixate on the pot for a few moments, and then start playing with your chips. I can’t do that cool one-handed chip shuffle thing they do on TV, but I do like making the annoying clacking sound with a stack. As much as this may unintentionally rattle your opponents into a rage-induced mistake, it’s usually not my main goal.

2.) Forgetting about bluffing: Bluffing is a key tool to keeping your opponents honest themselves. It’s kinda like a game of basketball, in that you’ll always be guarded tight at the three point line if them other team knows you can’t drive. So, like in basketball, you have to throw your opponents a curve, and in poker that curve is, of course, a bluff. Sometimes you need to bluff (especially in a new game where the other players don’t know you or your game) just to show them that you will, in fact, bluff from time to time. For this type of bluff, whether you win or lose the hand is largely irrelevant.

All the same in a game where the other players DO know your game. If you’re just not bluffing, or folding on every opening bet, pretty soon they’ll catch on that they can bleed you dry, and when that big bet from your stack does come, it’ll just scare everyone off before you have a chance to make your money. With blinds increasing at timed intervals, this is a great way to achieve that “lazy” slow death.

3.) Just call: Similar to avoiding the bluff, calling everything or folding is a trademark of the “lazy” player. He won’t raise back, won’t attempt to engage anyone in a betting war, content to either keep the pot at lower levels, or if he has a sure-win hand, content to claim whatever the pot makes through other’s raises. Sounds stupid, right? Sure, but who said being lazy went hand in hand with making perfect sense. When laziness creeps in, so does the effort it takes to think these things through sometimes. You really, literally, just don’t want to put forth the effort to care.

So, you’re definitely asking again, if you’re going to just go through the motions and be lazy, why even bother playing? Well, that’s a great question. It used to be I just didn’t have anyting else better to do. But now…..well…..eh….I’ll answer that some other time.