Can politics and poker ever play together to benefit the world? Is there room for politics in poker? In that regard, using my imagination, here is a poker story that could have happened. Admittedly, and importantly, it is a piece of fiction. But it gives us food for thought… Joyce C. learned to play poker from her husband, Sam, a political lobbyist for Mayor James M. Curley of Boston while Curley was in prison for corruption. Interestingly, Sam had pretty much given up the game of poker at that time – too much like gambling, he explained. To him, poker players were also the kinds of folks who played at online casino sites like Dafar slot. Always fascinated by politics and government, Joyce introduced politics to the game of poker. When Sam taught her how to play hold’em, he advocated tight play before the flop, restricting her to using only made hands (A-A, K-K, Q-Q, and J-J) and premium drawing hands (A-K, A-Q, A-J, K-Q, and Q-J) in the hole for starting hands. Joyce labeled this the “Republican way” – nothing but the best. The alternative was called the “Democratic way.” It offered a much wider selection of starting hands, adding middle and small pairs, and Hi-Lo hands consisting of an honor card and a small card (seven down to deuce) in the hole. Sam encouraged her to play the Republican way, staying to see the flop with one of the top starting hands. Needless to say, Joyce mucked the vast majority of her hole cards. But this was like a tell for her opponents, giving them a big edge. When she paid to see the flop, her opponents soon learned how best to respond. And so her winning hands were small and infrequent. She brought up the issue over dinner. She loved the challenge, the excitement, and social interaction of playing poker – but she hated to lose. Discussing the matter with her husband, they both agreed: Let’s go Democratic. The next day, Sam joined Joyce as they drove to the casino to play $4-$8 limit hold’em. Sam sat behind her, watching the action. Occasionally, they left the table to discuss the game and Sam gave her several pointers. Playing the Democratic way, Joyce found herself winning much more often. She loved being a winner! But using the Democratic way, there was one problem – a big one: Playing the small pairs, she invariably lost when she did not improve on the flop; and then it was costly to continue in the hand on the turn. (The player who holds the best hand after the flop will win about 75 percent of those hands.) The need to improve on the flop also applied to the Lo end of the Hi-Lo cards. (Note: That could lead to chasing – thus losing even more chips.) Sam’s advice: “Let’s use both ways, along with a few changes: Make it a rule that you muck your hole cards if the flop doesn’t improve them to a made hand or to a drawing hand with more than six outs.” Joyce laughed as she commented, “You sound like a lobbyist. I guess give-and-take for the Democratic and Republican ways is the best solution to this problem.” And May I Add Maybe our political leaders in the United States – the Republicans and the Democrats – can learn from this story. Share the best of what each has to offer. Can politics learn from the game of poker? Can we make this a better world? After reading this column, reread it slowly, using your imagination to decide if we can do it. About George EpsteinAfter a long and productive career as a leader in the aerospace industry, upon his retirement in the 1990s, George Epstein chose poker as his “second career.” George has been widely recognized for his many significant accomplishments and contributions to our society. These include pioneering and innovations in various materials, testing and manufacturing technologies for our defense and space programs; teaching specialized engineering courses at UCLA, other colleges, and at seven NASA centers; introducing advanced composites into Air Force space systems; and creating the Air Force Manufacturing Problem Prevention Program (has helped avoid costly failures and anomalies for space systems), He has authored many engineering reports and books; and is listed in American Men of Science; Leaders in American Science; Who’s Who in the West; Dictionary of International Biography; and Personalities in the West and Midwest. Since “joining” the poker world, George “The Engineer” Epstein has written three poker books – most recently, Hold’em or Fold’em?– An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision and The Art of Bluffing. George has organized poker groups at two senior centers, at West L.A. College, and at the VA/West Los Angeles, including teaching poker classes.He is a columnist for several poker and gaming publications. George has been elected to the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame, and was named Man-of-the-Year by the Westside Optimists, primarily for his efforts in encouraging retirees to learn and enjoy the game of poker. He firmly believes that playing poker will help to keep seniors/retirees mentally and physically healthy.
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