Charging Inferior Hands Makes Money; Liar, Liar OK in Poker; A Solitaire Strategy for Hold’em

joe tehanPoker Pro Joe Tehan: ‘Charging Inferior Hands’ Is How You Make Money In Poker

Cash Game Grinder Says That The Game Isn’t About Bluffing

by Logan Hronis

Joe Tehan has been the epitome of rock solid throughout his poker career. After growing up playing cards against his grandmother, Tehan has moved on to be a powerful opponent. His results are impressive, especially for a guy who plays mostly limit cash games nowadays. The New York native has almost $4 million in tournament cashes and eight titles.

Card Player caught up with Tehan this week, and asked him about some of the ins and outs of his career. He explains how he never imagined being a pro poker player, explains his secret
to making money in poker, and why you can’t surprise him at the table.

Logan Hronis: Tell us about your childhood and your introduction to poker. Is there anything that made the game more attractive to you early on?

Joe Tehan: I got started when I was younger, like fourth or fifth grade. I would go home, finish my homework and then I’d just play. My grandmother used to love card games, so I’d go
to her house and play her. I played all sorts of card games. I started off with limit cash games because there wasn’t much no-limit poker back then. I’ve always been sort of a gamer —
all types of games — and I’m a pretty decent numbers guy.

LH: When you first started playing poker, did you think you would try to make a career out of it, or was it more or less for fun?

JT: It definitely started out just for fun. Poker was totally the last thing I thought I would be doing, career-wise. My brother got a big executive job at a big company, both my
sisters have PhD’s in physics and chemistry, and everyone in my family was very strict. When I decided to play poker, my dad wasn’t crazy about it, but he knew that I was going to be
smart about it.

LH: Talk about your early career a little bit. Did you pretty much start your winning ways from the beginning, or did you experience growing pains like many other players?

JT: I hate to say it was smooth sailing, because that doesn’t make for a good interview (laughs). I moved to Las Vegas with about $6,000 and played $15-$30 limit. Then I moved up
stakes from there. My first couple sessions in the bigger games, I guess I lost quite a bit of money. You’re sitting there saying, “I know I’m better than these guys, it’s just not
happening.” But I worked my way up, one limit to the next. Before I knew it, I was playing $80-$160 and then jumped over to some no-limit tournaments. When you’re winning, you just
keep playing bigger.

LH: Obviously, 2006 was a monster year for you. Tell us about the year, the emotion surrounding it, and what that big year meant for your career.

JT: I had a really good start to my tournament year. I think I had five no-limit scores of $100,000 or more in 18 months. You still have to run good to win tournaments, but I played
well. I became more of a no-limit player at that time, but I still liked limit also. I was going with it. I had played two or three years worth of cash games, then I won $300,000 and
it was like, “Wow! I seem to have a knack for this,” so I kept going.

LH: How would you compare your game today to the first few years of your career? Would you say you play less frequently or more frequently nowadays?

JT: Right now I feel like I’m the best I’ve ever been. I’ve always been a bit spewy, but I’m comfortable in almost every situation. I guess that’s from putting in so many hours at the
table. I feel like I have it figured out. Maybe it’s because I’m having a good year, but I know how to handle and react to each situation. There’s not much I haven’t seen at a poker
table. There are still swings, though. It doesn’t matter how I handle the situations, there’s always variance.

An example of Tehan spewing at the table was perhaps never more evident than when he shoved with 4-2 off suit on the money bubble in a 2012 tournament. The hand is one of the most
brazen ever recorded on camera and had the poker world buzzing.

LH: What do you believe has been the best teacher for your ongoing poker education?

JT: For me, it was experience. That was the biggest thing. I would play high-stakes limit, and then go play $2-$5 no-limit. That game wasn’t really that big to me, but I would get
involved in like 70 percent of hands, and splash around a bit. I would get in all different types of situations and learn that way. I never read a poker book. I guess I watched a few
CardRunners videos, but I always felt like, “Why am I watching this? I’m better than these guys.” If you find a player who you really respect to talk over situations and hands with
them, I think that’s actually a good way to learn. As long as you have a few people that understand the game, you can learn a lot.

LH: In your opinion, what is the most important skill or attribute a player can have?

JT: One of the things that a lot of players don’t get is the concept of getting your money in ahead. It’s like getting involved in high-risk, short-term stocks. The only thing you can
control is trying to get your investment in ahead. I hear people say, “My hand will look so strong if I do this. My range looks so strong if I do that.” If you get called, you’re going
to be in a world of hurt. People don’t fold much. The best players find out how to play against bad players. It’s not about bluffing, making crazy moves. It’s about getting the most
value out of your hands, and charging opponents for their draws. That’s where you’re making money — charging inferior hands.

LH: You have a bunch of different games in your results recently, compared to mostly no-limit hold’em events earlier in your career. Is there a strategic reason for this, or are you
just switching it up? Please explain.

JT: The last couple years, I haven’t played many no-limit tournaments. I played the World Series and a few others, but not a whole lot. I moved away from Vegas too, so that’s another
reason I haven’t played many events outside of the World Series, in general. Back then, it seemed most of the tournaments were strictly no-limit. Now, they have a ton of tournaments,
all types of games. Mostly, the lack of no-limit cashes are just because I haven’t been playing (no-limit).

LH: Tell us about yourself off the felt. Do you have many interests outside of poker? Could you see yourself taking time away from poker to pursue other interests in the future?

JT: Well, I just had a son about ten months ago. So I have a new family, I moved away from Vegas. Things have slowed down, as far as tournaments. I’ve been golfing three days a week,
playing 20 to 30 hours of poker per week. Like I said, I like all types of games, so I’m in a bowling league, I golf, and I’m putting in a game room at my house. But I still love
gambling on anything and everything. I’ll bet sports, and all the stuff that degenerate gamblers should be doing (laughs). When it comes to financially speaking, I’ll take some money
and invest it. I’ll invest in businesses. All the money I’ve ever made has come from poker, though.


pants on fireLying acceptable strategy for winning poker games

by Irene Edith

“Liar, liar, pants on fire. Hangin’ on a telephone wire!” – from the 1810 poem, “The Liar” by William Blake.

“It’s easy to tell when politicians are lying. Their lips move.” – from the 1985 British television series, “Max Headroom.”

(This joke has been widely repeated and rephrased.)

The Bible (Proverbs 6:16-19) clearly warns against “a lying tongue,” and yet (according to scientific research) most humans start lying at about age 4. We all know the story of
Pinocchio whose nose grew longer whenever he told a lie.

There are situations, however, when lying to deceive another person is perfectly acceptable. Bluffing during a poker game is a great example.

If you played football as a youngster, you may have been taught to “feint” to one side and then move quickly to the opposite side – with the intent to deceive your opponent. The loving
mother is knowingly lying when she tells her child: “The stork brought you” (in reference to childbirth) and speaks of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny.

Scientists have researched lying for many years. A recent study at the Harvard Business School found creative people are more prone to tell lies. The more power a person has, the
easier it is for him to tell a lie. There is less stress.

Art of bluffing

Recently, I was fortunate to be invited to sit in on a preview of the lecture on “The Art of Bluffing” by my co-columnist (and now poker buddy) George “The Engineer” Epstein, in
preparation for presentation to his Seniors Poker Class at the Claude Pepper Senior Center.

Did you know that bluffing in poker is an art that requires great skill to be fully successful? With George’s permission, I will share some of the topics he lists in his lecture notes,
and offer my comments on a few.

• Bluffing Philosophy: Bluff occasionally – but not too often. If you never bluff, your opponents will know you have a strong hand whenever you make a big bet or raise.

• What is Break-even? George says it’s approximately 30%. If your bluffs succeed more often, you are a winner!

• Stealing: It’s wise to occasionally steal the blinds preflop; better yet, steal the pot on the flop.

• Two Key Tactics: There may be others. These are key to being a winner!

• Use Your Image: It’s much easier to bluff when you start with a tight image.

• Evaluate Your Opponents: Don’t try to bluff out a Calling-Station.

• Helpful: Reading Your opponents’ hands. That’s obvious, but how can you best do it in the “heat of battle?”

• Caution: How well does your opponent know you? If you were just caught in a bluff (it happens!), don’t try it again shortly after on the same opponent or against one closely
observing the playing of every hand even when not involved. Wait awhile.

• Look for Tells: George told of watching a group of “pros” playing in a big tournament shown on TV. The bluffer sat back in his chair and placed his hand over his mouth. All the
“world” saw his tell. Avoid giving those out.

• Semi-Bluffing: Setting the Stage: Usually, if you would bluff on the river, a semi-bluff on the turn is the smart thing to do. George gave a good example: With four-to-the-nut-flush,
a large bet or raise on the turn against one or two opponents can win the pot for you. If they fold, you take the pot by default.

If one opponent deigns to call, you can still make your hand by catching the flush on the river. If not, then you can do your full bluff using the right tactics and tactical

Yes, I agree bluffing well in poker is an “Art” that requires skill and special talents. George had several more topics related to The Art of Bluffing. I suggested he write another
book to go along the one that describes the Hold’em Algorithm. He promised to give it consideration. What do you think?

We invite your comments. Email to


solitaireWinning at Hold’em found in solitaire strategy
by George Epstein

Lying in bed, a recurring thought kept crossing my mind as I vainly tried to fall asleep. I tossed and turned. Just before going to bed, I had been caught up in playing solitaire on my

As I became more adept at the game, I realized an intriguing relationship between solitaire and Texas Hold’em – and thought I should share this with the GamingToday readers.
Eventually, I admitted defeat in my attempt to fall asleep. So I got up out of bed to sit down at my computer to tell you how playing solitaire can help you to become a winner at Texas

Solitaire hardly resembles any game of poker. For one thing, you play against yourself – no opponents. To start, there are seven piles of cards on the table, containing from one to
seven cards in sequence, with the top card face-up in each pile.

We won’t go through the details of playing solitaire except to explain that the initial seven face-up cards must be carefully scrutinized to make you a winner. If you have played the
game, I would venture a guess some of you have already made the same observation, as follows:

At least four of the initial face-up cards must be related in some way. If your face-up cards do not meet this criteria, then you are solely dependent on luck and bound to be a loser
in the long run. The same is true in poker.

Playing solitaire on my computer, with a quick click of my mouse, I can bring up another random “hand.” So why waste my time playing inferior starting hands. Patience is a virtue.
Likewise in poker; wait for a better hand to be dealt to you.

This criteria in playing solitaire is the equivalent to starting-hand selection in poker. As you peek at your holecards, you must decide whether or not to play this hand. Likewise in

As in poker, you have no control over the cards buried in each pile that are revealed as you move the face-up cards elsewhere on the table according to the rules of the game –replacing
them with the next card in the pile that is then turned face-up.

One problem in Texas Hold’em is you get to see only your two holecards before making the vital decision whether or not to invest your chips to see the flop. To help make up for this
limitation, it is wise to use either Start Charts (available in many poker books) or the Hold’em Algorithm that permits you to remember just a few key numbers. It’s so easy!

The charts and the algorithm consider not only the nature and value of your two holecards, but also your betting position. The Hold’em Algorithm provides easy-to-remember numerical
criteria for starting-hand selection. In addition, it applies the Hold’em Caveat, your evaluation of your opponents, and consideration of the game texture.

In summary: Starting-hand selection is critical in both solitaire and poker. It is important to give due consideration to your holecards in poker and your initial face-up cards in
solitaire. If you do not, and then play hands dealt to you without regard for the relationships among your cards, I can guarantee you will be a loser.

Intelligent, well-informed starting-hand selection is essential to being a winner in both games. Surely, there must be other games containing elements that also apply to the game of
Texas Hold’em. Can you suggest any? There will be a prize for the best entry.

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Contact George at

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