Killer Poker : Interview with John Vorhaus

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

Posted by Chuckmonster

VT: In the section on Honesty, you encourage readers to assess their game and write a list of their weaknesses in a poker journal. How important is it for people to actually write the list versus think the list?

JV: You're asking a writer how important it is to write? LOL. Seriously, I don't require readers to write down their weaknesses (I don't require anything of anyone). From my own experience -- and this is true in story telling and in poker and in all sorts of creative problem solving -- if I don't put it down on the page where I can see it, I can't work with it effectively. I think this is true for many people, but there's an element of delusion at work: We tell ourselves that we can think effectively about our flaws without actually committing them to paper. In a sense, this protects us from facing the harsh truth of them. There's a technical term for poker players who can't face the harsh truth about themselves: railbird. So, no, it's not required to write down anything, but, yes, it helps so much.

VT: Here's my list of poker weaknesses.

  • I get bored when not involved in a hand for a long period of time and begin to lose focus on the game, forfeiting observations on other players, so when I do enter a hand Iím not alert, and Iím not playing with complete information.
  • I have a hard time giving up strong hands that miss the flop.
  • I refire at missed hand pots on the turn and river when continuation bets are called.
  • I get outplayed after the flop.
  • Losing streaks really bum me out
  • I think people are bluffing more often then they are.
Any suggestions?

JV: So many. Too many to list here, so I'll focus on one: "Losing streaks really bum me out." Losing streaks bum everyone out -- so much so that they end up playing worse and perpetuating them. I would recommend that you keep in mind this truth: "You're born broke, you die broke, everything else is just fluctuation." Take the longest view of your poker life and you'll see that a losing streak is nothing more than temporary -- and largely irrelevant -- fluctuation.

VT: What's the worst beat you've ever suffered?

JV: I remember bouncing out of a tournament when my all in bet with K-K got called by J-9 or some ridiculous cheese, and the board came... ah, hell, it doesn't matter how the board came. The odds were in my favor but the odds favored the underdog that time, as odds are wont to do. Two points: First, if I hadn't been short stacked, I wouldn't have had to go all in, putting me at risk for catastrophic bad luck. Second, good players suffer more bad beats than bad ones because we more frequently get our money in with the best of it. By corollary, we suck out less often because we don't get involved in unfavorable situations. It's all part of the plan, Stan. If you can't take bad beats in stride you have no future in this game.

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