Anyone who knows me well knows that I play poker rather competitively. In fact you may not know me all that well and know that I play cards. I take it pretty seriously and am always trying to learn and do things to improve my game. The goal of this post is to tell a fun poker story and possibly, if I am lucky, relate it to the business of creativity. BUT beware it does not have anything to do with the technical aspects of audio production or voice over. And while I will try to simplify my poker lingo it may be odd for the non-poker player. So if you play cards you may enjoy it. If you don’t, you may want to move on. Alas, I continue.
A little Background: I have played in the World Series of Poker for 5 years now. Before you ask, no I don’t play the main event. I play $1500 no-limit hold ’em bracelet events, $200 to $400 deep stack tourneys and $2-$5 NLH cash games. The main event has a $10K entry fee I am not willing to spend and I feel like if I can’t regularly make final tables, or at the VERY least cash, in smaller tourneys I don’t need to be spending 5 figures for one tourney. I have done well at the series overall (I have a 4 figure profit overall in the 5 trips I have made) but I have never cashed in a bracelet event.
I am always relating the skills I use in poker to real life scenarios. For example most people who work in radio or broadcasting of some sort are basically always telling a story. From a Saturday remote at a car dealer getting folks down for the free circus tickets you have or the next big hit from Sugarland and why you should like it to why you should listen at 7:18 to the ‘morning buzz’, we are always selling something. And in poker from time to time all you want to do is tell a story. The actual cards don’t matter as much as what you want your opponent to believe. This all started with the 4th hand of the tourney. I was comfortable with my table, my mentality was good, I had patience and was ready to make strong moves when necessary. 4th hand in I am dealt a Q-J of diamonds. I am up against one other player and my goal is to see a cheap flop (the cards we both share) and get out easy if I hit nothing. Instead I flop the best possible flush and at this point the best possible hand. So I need to start telling a story. What I know is what I have (the best possible hand) but I want him to think I have second best. ONE major thing I have learned is don’t over play anything. The best will never overact their position. They wont over-sell, or under-sell, one way or another because people see right through that. In radio we may call it hype and while some genres find it useful, I think as time moves forward we have to do it less and less. People sense bullshit better now than yesterday and will do it better tomorrow than today.
So I have the best hand and I want to make my opponent think that whatever he has is best. I am a little worried about a draw but he would have to hit a full house or better to have me beat. Odds are very much against that. I bet the flop so that perhaps he wont hink I have a flush. Why would I bet if I already had a winner right? He calls. Turn comes a 10 which can be a scare card but again he would still have to catch one more card to beat me, so I am still very good. This time I check so he would think maybe a straight has me scared or that perhaps I was bluffing or continuation betting the flop with nothing. Again, do what you need to do to tell the right story.
On the river, the final card is a 10. This could be a nightmare for me as it potentially could have killed my “unbeatable” hand. BUT as the pic below shows it was the 10 of diamonds and gives me literally the best possible hand in poker. A royal flush. I have been playing 10 years (or more) and haven’t hit one in live play. So now in my head all I am thinking is to conceal my strength with my face and get his MONEY! I need him to find a way to think his hand is best. As it happens I bet, he raises, I three-bet, he four-bets all-in on me and I call, quickly. Best possible scenario. I will double up 4 hands in. As I call and I am about to table my cards, he beats me to it. That’s weird. How can he really think he is that strong? Did he really boat up on running turn and river cards?? Nope. He had QUADS. 4 – 10’s. The second best possible hand at this moment. He didn’t even see my cards or hear me say “Royal.” He throws his hand down with 100% confidence that he would win and somehow miraculously got me to “give” him my money with a measly flush. How could he not? QUAD 10s!! The room errupts in painful oooohs and ohhhhhhs and pictures are taken. He is felted, stunned and respectfully shakes my hand and walks away with a really big story.
We both were telling a story it just turns out neither one of us knew what the other person was actually trying to say. I guess if I were to come up with a major take-away it would be to think of all the angles. He was much weaker early than I thought he was but MUCH stronger by the end. Not to say either one of us played wrong, though I don’t fully understand his flop call, he wanted to believe he had a chance at that moment. Somehow to him based on what I was doing and the facts in front of him, his 10’s (third pair) were good enough to continue. Then I told him a story that reinforced this notion and by the end he saw it playing out in exactly the way I wanted.
Tell a story. Make people believe the story you are telling in terms they can, or are at least willing to, understand. If they believe it, you win.
Thanks for reading my story and while I won’t write like this very often its fun sometimes to break a little off course.