Not to Play is to Play Well
The famous quote “Not to decide is to decide” is attributed to theologian Harvey Cox. A quick web search reveals the the full quote is “Somewhere deep down we know that in the final analysis we do decide things and that even our decisions to let someone else decide are really our decisions, however pusillanimous,” from On Not Leaving It to the Snake.
In poker, sometimes “not to play is to play well.”
I’ll keep this brief.
I’m playing online poker, on Bovada, in micro stakes limit holdem games (feel free to question my sanity later). I have two tables running simultaneously.
UTG I look as 6d 4d. I really want to play these small suited one-gappers, but of course this would be a poor decision, so I fold. While concentrating on the other table, I peek over and see the board has come out 4c Kc As 4s 6s, and the pot is 19 BBs big, which is a lot for a limit game. Had I played, I would have a well-disguised full house. Then the showdown comes and one of the players has KK, for a much bigger full house.
On the very next hand, I have Kc Jc in the Big Blind. UTG+1 raises and I’m definitely going to call. Then a strange thing happens. The button re-raises and it occurs to me that (1) UTG+1 might re-re-raise even more, and (2) I’m out of position against both players. I decide not to play, and fold. UTG+1 just calls.
The flop is T-J-J. Trip JJJ’s for me.
Now both players are betting, raising and capping the pot, and this happens again on the turn (a 9). What the…?
Keeping the long story short, the button has KK, and UTG+1 has AJ. I woulda coulda shoulda been out kicked and the final pot was over 35 BBs.
Not playing these two hands – heavily influenced by my position at the table – was to play well both times.
(Insert image of KKing David patting himself on the shoulder.)