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Couple things I’ve been hearing/reading way too much lately are making me make the confused-dog face: one ear and one eyebrow up, inquisitive, usually accompanied by a doggy “aahhruuu?”

I’m kinda used to hearing these things from idiots. What scares me is that I’ve heard them recently from decent players to somehow explain away their donk catch or their stupid move/call. These are people who otherwise seem to be able to play. It’s like they have learned enough to know basic strategy, but they can’t get over that hump to get to the nitty-gritty of the game.

Can’t fold.
Couldn’t let go of the hand.
Had to call.
Automatic call.
Automatic fold.
Automatic shove.


There is no such thing.
It’s not “can’t” it’s “WON’T” or “don’t want to.”

Poker has rules.
Poker has general “good play” guidelines.
These “good play” guidelines are a great place to start.

None of it is written in stone.
And none of it should be.

If you make a move and get caught, it’s an ‘oops’ moment, not a ‘had to’ moment. If you made a dumb move and got lucky, accept the variance and stop trying to justify it. (Just stop… really. It makes you look even stupider. Yes. That’s a word in my world.) If you make a bad call because of a bad read, then it was a bad call because of a bad read; you didn’t ‘have to.’ If you make a mistake, figure out what happened and learn from it. If you make a mistake, figure out if you could have done it differently to have a positive outcome or not and learn from it. If it really was bad luck that donked you out, accept the variance. AND MOVE ON.

Accept that what you are doing is playing poker.
Poker is not a card game.
It is a game played with cards.

You are not a robot.
You are making decisions.
You are making choices.
You are calculating risk.
You are not punching finite values into a rigid formula.

Poker is liquid.
There is no such thing as “automatic.”1

If you think I’m full of it, that’s fine with me. If you want to play poker that way, using your auto-calls, -folds,-raises, and your formulae, please, PLEASE come sit at my table.

Let me know ahead of time and I’ll let some of my friends know, too.


1 Note (for those that think I’m missing a few brain cells): Yes. It is pretty much automatic when you’re the BB and everyone else but the all-in has folded to you and it is costing you <10% of what you already have in the pot to call them. That is NOT when these phrases are used. Y’all know what I mean. Also, against some players, yes, you might have automatic moves, but these are usually limited to specific situations and they are based on the player and what you know about them, not on any kind of Poker Super-Rule. And, again, these are liquid. If that player changes their game, your ‘automatic’ move will change, too. So let’s just call it a temporary automatic. The player either will never change and will go away because they run out of money or they will change and improve their game. Either way, the ‘automatic’ will not last.

I shut up now.