I was talking to someone recently, over the poker table, where else, and they where talking about their real belief in the value of fortune telling by cards. I must say that that I hold a much more sceptical view of the value of predicting the future by any means as our futures are dependent on an infinitesimal series of factors, many of which may well be completely out of our control. However, I digress slightly as this article, is after all, a poker article!! But what this conversation got me to thinking about was the fact that our mood and attitude at the table, can, sometimes, influence our cards. Obviously as a professional poker player my entire career is based on the belief that luck evens out over time and that it is always, in the long run, the most skilful of us that will prevail, but despite this there is something to be said for a positive or negative aura surrounding our cards. It is a bit of a the chicken or the egg question , however, as it is probably impossible to say whether our aura effects our cards or whether because we are hitting a run of good cards it thus creates a positive aura around us. I believe, however, that both in a good and a bad way, on occasion, we can influence the cards that we get and the flops that we do or don't hit.
Let me give you a couple of examples of situations where this, I believe, has been the case. Though these are just a few situations that I have personally experienced there are thousands of similar cases that I hear about repeatedly in card room after card room that lead me to think that it cannot all be about coincidence.
I was playing in a tournament and we had a change of dealer. It was not in a cardroom that I frequent often so I do not know the history that had passed between dealer and player. Suffice to say as soon as the dealer sat down this particular player started to moan saying that he would definitely be going out now as this dealer had never yet dealt him a winning hand and simply always dealt him the worst bad beats of his life. He started to list a few examples, though, at this point, like everyone else, I suspect, I switched off and started to dream of the hot cappuccino I had just ordered from the waitress. A few hands in, this pot came along. There had been a few flat callers and our moaning friend made a sizeable raise. I would like to add at this point that he was quite deeply stacked and had been playing pretty good, solid poker. He found a couple of callers and the flop fell 9 3 4 rainbow. The first player checked and he went all in which set both his opponents all in. the third guy insta-called and the other passed. Moaner had kings and the caller, surprisingly had ace 6 offsuit. The river was the usual ace and the kings were, rather cruelly cracked. The very next hand moaner had aces cracked by ace deuce of spades and left the table cursing. My point about this is that did the fact that he believed the dealer to be unlucky for him in fact somehow create the terrible bad luck he thus encountered. Did his belief that he would be cursed in itself create the curse? As I mentioned earlier these are difficult questions to answer but are no doubt worth pondering.
My next couple of examples involve personal experiences. I was running just below average in a tournament and the blinds had just increased. There were about 4 flat callers and I was on the button with pocket sixes. Rather than waste money flat calling I pushed all in, in the hope that they would all pass and I would take down a nice size pot. I instead found 1 flat caller with ace jack of diamonds. As soon as I saw his hand I just had a sinking feeling. The first card over was the 6 of clubs though this only increased my sense of doom. By the time he had rivered his back door, middle pin straight I already had my coat on and was half way across the room eyeing up the cash game. The question here is slightly different. I had an instinctive feeling I was going to lose the hand. In fact despite hitting my perfect card straight off the top of the deck I still proceeded to stand up and walk away. Obviously my feeling of doom could not have actually changed the order of cards already set in the deck but I instinctively knew that I would lose the hand. Were side bets legal in this casino I would have gladly put my money on the ace jack!! This "bad feeling" is an expression I hear over and over again. They "knew" it was coming, whatever "it" is. This emotional connection that we all seem to sometimes have to the cards that decide our tournament or cash game fate is uncanny and frankly, undeniable.
My next example is when I had one of these feeling but this time in a good way. I was playing in a cash game and called raise, re-raise with 7 2. This is not something I ever do normally I just had a really strong positive feeling for the hand. The flop duly came 772 and I cracked aces and queens to scoop a monster pot. I just knew it was coming, another expression you often hear. Sometimes it has to be said people use this as an excuse for bad play and perhaps you think that I am doing the same but I can assure you this play was so out of character I don't think this has ever happened before or since.
What I am really trying to establish in this article is the fact that it is possible to predict and or influence cards at the table, well in my opinion anyway. A player that slouches at the table, shoulders down and brow beaten is very unlikely to win, whereas a player that sits up straight and looks confident will not only play better but will often end up hitting superior cards and flops. The examples I have given are things I have seen repeated again and again over the years and the frequency with which they occur leaves me in no doubt that the relationship between us and our little cardboard friends is intricate and mystical and certainly not a one way street.