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Seventh Rule of Poker

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The Seventh Golden Rule of Poker
Practice inexpensive advertising to create false impressions of your playing style.


For the purposes of this discussion, we'll define advertising as the act of creating a false impression of your playing style for the other players to see. It was obviously not the home game crowd that invented this one. It has more of the feel of the cardroom crowd, who see so many new faces every time they play. To purposely try to deceive the regulars at your table as to your style of play will not be easy. However, if you can play dumb enough or relay the idea that you have recently decided to adjust your style, you can make effective use of advertising.

We will concentrate on two advertising plays: the loose play and the bluff.

In this example, you are dealt a hand that is above average for the game, but not a likely winner. It is plain as day that nobody has anything to brag about. Even if there is one player who may have a strong hand, you remain in the game anyway. You open betting rounds if you assume that nobody will re-raise. Otherwise, you simply check, or call the betting rounds as they go by. If there is not alot of action, then it will not cost much, but you will be showing enough enthusiasm as to indicate you are holding something. If the play remains inexpensive, you play your hand to showdown. Hopefully by this point, it's just you and one other player who has the winning hand. You throw your hand down and lose a bit of your money as your opponent scoops the pot.

Just what on earth did you accomplish here? At first glance, a bad play. And with any luck, every player that saw your hand at showdown will agree that it was a bad play. In fact, the whole point of playing this hand to showdown, even though it could not win and you were not betting strong enough to consider it a bluff, was for the players at the table to believe that you just committed a bad play. Through advertising, you have created a false impression of your playing style. You will now appear to be a player who is more loose, especially if you can follow up the play with talk about how you thought you had a chance. Advertising can cost any sum of money, but you have minimized your investment into this false impression by ensuring minimal action and loss.

The best part of all is that you may just as soon have won, in which case you get the pot. Sure, it was not a big pot, but this isn't important, as a better hand or smarter play should by all rights have taken it. So, by pure luck and an inadvertent bluff, you win the pot. Otherwise, the worst case scenario is that you have advertised inexpensively.

The way in which such an investment and purposely bad play pays dividends is when you duplicate the exact same moves later on with a monster of a hand. When dealt this monster later on in the night, you spend the first few betting rounds doing similar moves: checking (only if you assume somebody else will open) and calling, but not raising or re-raising. If it's assumed that you are too loose a player, your chances for the family pot will be taken less seriously. Then, on the last one or two betting rounds, you come out betting strong. If players still question your ability based on previous advertising, even better. Let them stay in for an even bigger pot for you.

This example begs the question: how can one single variance play (the fancy-dan term for advertising) affect players' opinions over the course of numerous hands? This is probably what discourages most people from it. I suppose it's hard to demonstrate the full worth of advertising using so basic an example as the one above. The point of players advertising is that through minimal expense, they allow the table to see their 'bad plays' on more than one occasion. While there will be some scenarios like the one above that are planned and orchestrated, opportunities to advertise for a low price may come up at rare moments to be seized upon. A variation on this play may involve staying in for a couple of betting rounds, and then folding. Upon folding, you expose your cards to the table (which, although ethically wrong, is not usually outlawed) who see the crap cards you were staying in on. This creates the false impression of what your requirements are to stay in a pot. If exposing your folded cards is so frowned upon, then just tell everybody what you had stayed in on.

A false bluff, as opposed to one where you are honestly trying to scare everybody out of the game, can also be used as advertising. In our discussion of tells, we talked about how 'false tells' can be exhibited using advertising. If you can make an inexpensive 'bluff', exhibiting certain tells like forehead scratching or bottom lip-biting, then come showdown, the table will see that you were bluffing. Later on, when you are dealt a monster, you bet and raise again, while exhibiting the exact same tells. The beauty of it is that as players feel they've tagged onto your bluff tells, you show them your monster and collect the pot.

In both examples of advertising, you make an inexpensive investment for future dividends. In both examples, you were dealt bad cards. Rather than play the hand tight or fold outright, you not only stay in the game, but you make sure that everybody at the table saw what you stayed in with. This sets the precedent that you either are too loose a player or that you exhibit certain tells when bluffing. Later on in the night, your time comes up and you are dealt a monster hand. This time, you have a hand worth playing legitimately. You duplicate the moves made previously while advertising in order to lure players in. They still believe that either you are too loose, or that the tells you exhibit indicate that you are bluffing. More players stay in the game, because they don't take your presence as seriously. When more players stay in the game, the pot increases in size. That pot is the one to win with your monster hand.

Realistically, you will only pull in one or two big pots through a previous variance play. However, a number of variance plays peppered over the course of the night will offer the chance to pull a number of big pots most every time you are dealt a monster. Kept inexpensive, advertising is a cheap way of further confusing players' perception of your style. The more confused they are, the less they can read your hands.

The key is to think of advertising as anything visible that you pull throughout the night to deceive your opponent's perception of your playing style.

First Rule of Poker - Second Rule of Poker - Third Rule of Poker - Fourth Rule of Poker - Fifth Rule of Poker - Sixth Rule of Poker - Seventh Rule of Poker

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