The Perils of Television Poker - Part 2

Winning Even When You Lose. You may be surprised to know, but when you watch some of these professional players on television they are not always playing their best game. You would think that with a million dollars or more at stake, they would be trying their best to win the tournament. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true. Poker pros make deals in tournaments all the time. They agree to split winnings with other pros, they swap off percentages of themselves, and they even place bets with one another over who will last longer. That final table you are watching may have already been made irrelevant by the deals made beforehand. I’m not suggesting that every WPT event you’ve ever watched has been for show, because that is certainly not true. Most of them are exactly what they seem to be. Nonetheless, sometimes those last three guys (or more) have decided that they’re going to split the winnings no matter how it turns out. There are two very good reasons for them to do this: they get a guaranteed amount of money that is higher than they would typically get for second place, and it allows them to play less than their best game. These professionals have good reason to make their play look less than optimum when they can, because they know that everyone is watching them and taking notes on how to beat them.

Television poker is, first and foremost, entertainment. Their goal is not to teach you to play better but to keep you in your seat long enough for you to see a commercial or two. Keep that in mind the next time you’re watching! You wouldn’t try to learn how to play baseball from watching the World Series, so don’t try to learn how to play poker from watching the World Series of Poker.

Hopefully you’ll now look at television poker a little differently, and possibly more critically. If so, do me one small favor... don’t tell your friends. I’m still hoping to see their Gus Hansen impersonation at the tables!