By self admission, no poker player in the history of the world has ever been fooled or surprised by their opponent’s hand. It’s an astonishing statistic. If you were to ask any player at the conclusion of a hand, they’ll almost always tell you that they knew exactly what the other player had. ”Yeah, like that was a surprise,” or, “I knew that guy didn’t have anything!” It’s a remarkable coincidence, don’t you think? The very moment the cards are turned face-up is the moment the loser says he knew it all along.
It’s a simple matter of saving face. Clearly, if players knew what their opponents had, they’d fold the worst hand. But in reality, they don’t know shit. They simply want to say that they knew so as to avoid appearing “fooled.” I never really understood that. I’m fooled all the time. If I know I’m beat, I fold. Otherwise, I’ll call and give you some more money. To say that you knew your opponent had a better hand than you, and then to continue giving him your money, is illogical. Nobody should ever believe this person.
If these players do, in fact, know exactly what their opponents’ cards are (and they never really do), why aren’t they using the information? It seems like an incredible gift to squander. It’d be like claiming to know the lottery numbers and then not betting the lottery. I suppose these people’s heightened awareness and immense knowledge is simply recreational; using the information for one’s own financial gain would be irresponsible.
I was playing 8-16 limit hold’em recently and open raised in middle position with QJ. I was called only by the big-blind. The flop was 1063. The big-blind checked and I continuation bet. He called. The turn was the 9. The big-blind checked again and I bet. He called again. The river was the 8, giving me the nuts. This time my opponent bet into me. I, of course, raised. He called. He flashed the Q7 for the smaller straight as he mucked his cards.
As I scooped my pot, the guy says, “I knew you didn’t have anything.”
I was so taken aback by this ridiculous statement that I laughed out loud. I suppose, factually speaking, he was right. Until the river, I didn’t have anything but Queen-high. But at no point during the entire hand was I behind. If he did, in fact, put me on “nothing,” what did he choose to do with that valuable piece of information? He chose to call with a worse piece of shit than even I had. What sense does this make? What if the river had been another three instead of the eight for the straight? He would check, I would check behind him, and he once again gets the satisfaction of saying, “I knew you didn’t have anything” …as he still watches me stack the pot.
Do you see my confusion with his statement? He put me on nothing and, yet, DID NOTHING ABOUT IT! I don’t think it should be allowed: a player plays his hand like shit, and then attempts to veil his awfulness with some twisted nonsensical reasoning that puts me to blame instead, as if the river stole a pot that was otherwise his.
My response, while laughing, was still, “In fairness, I did have Queen-seven beat.”
His response, sarcastically and without the faintest hint of comprehension: “Well, yeah, whatever.”
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@JayMindPokerJacob "Jaymind" Westlin is a semi-professional limit hold'em player with a strong, sarcastic wit. Jaymind also frequently contributes to Minnesota Poker Magazine's monthly publication. Email Jaymind at firstname.lastname@example.org