Killer Poker : Interview with John Vorhaus

Bloodthirst at the Poker Table : How to Dominate and Defeat Your Opponents

Posted by Chuckmonster

VT: At this WSOP Main Event, Andrew Black (a devout Buddhist) had a monstrous chip stack - about 1/2 the chips in play, but proceeded to give it all away. According to Killer Poker's principles, what did he do wrong?

JV: Man, far be it from me to second guess AB's play. He was at the table, after all -- I was just in the press room, watching the whole thing go down. It may be that as he became aware of how much better he was than everyone else, he let that awareness tweak his play. But you know, being the dominant chip leader is tricky. You have the big stack, so you're supposed to be a bully; however, you have the big stack so you're supposed to be patient. These two "supposeds" can end up working at cross purposes to one another.

I remember once squandering a huge tournament lead by getting carried away with my own sense of... what's the word?... entitlement. I was doing great -- great table image, great run of cards, great fearlessness, all of that -- when I raised a medium stack with A-Q. He reraised and I didn't give it a second thought before I called: I was the chip leader, how could I not exploit the luxury of my lead? Of course he had A-K and of course I got killed in the hand. Unable to detach from outcome in that instance, I went on tilt and got eliminated. It happens. We try to learn from our mistakes.

VT: One of the exercises in Killer Poker is for the player to analyze everything in their life as if it we're a poker hand, you use a cup of coffee as an example. You should drink (play) it before it gets cold, balance the bitterness (bets) with sweetness (raises) and creaminess (calls) to maximize its flavor ingestion within the proper time frame, and try not to spill it on your trousers. Using this type of metaphorical thinking, how would you describe President Bush as a poker hand. Feel free to deal out some cards.

JV: Wow, I don't even remember suggesting that exercise. When you've written more than two million words on poker, things start to get a little blurry. It doesn't help that I lost my memory along with my virginity, my sanity and my hearing at an Emerson, Lake and Palmer concert at the Boston Garden in 1974. As for Bush, I'd say he's a badugi. Badugi, if you don't know, is a Korean word meaning "multi-colored dog." It's also a poker variation where the best hand is the four lowest cards of four different suits. How that relates to Bush I leave it to the reader to judge.

VT: Poker is a masterful game where one must dance with peril to gain reward - much like finding the sweet spot of a 71 VW van where you can shift gears without using the clutch. In Killer Poker you say that poker players must learn to "master the art of deception and identifying the art of delusion." What's the difference between delusion and deception?

JV: Deception is what you do to others. Delusion is what you do to yourself. It's deception to raise in late position with 7-8 suited, just so your opponents won't always think you bet with big cards. It's delusion to call with that hand in the (falsely optimistic) hope that you'll hit a big hand and win a big pot.

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