Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A poker lesson from Texas Dolly

Doyle Brunson is one of the most legendary poker players around. Texas Dolly won back-to-back World Series of Poker Main Events holding a 10-2 in the hole. He's also put together two excellent poker primers: Super/System and Super System 2.

Brunson is a firm believer in selective aggression. By choosing your spots and being relentless when you enter a pot, you can put an almost unbearable amount of pressure on your opponent.

"Like me, all the top players know you have to be extremely aggressive to be a consistent winner. You have to bet, bet, bet, all the time. If I find somebody I can keep betting at and he keeps saying 'Take it, Doyle,' 'Take it, Doyle,' well, I'm going to keep pounding on him. I'm not going to let up. And that poor guy never will win a pot from me. He'll have to have the nuts (best possible hand) or the nerve to call me." --Doyle Brunson, Super System 2

The same principle can be applied in the courtroom. There are some cases in which the facts are pretty clear and the object is to obtain the best possible deal for your client. At the table you'd be looking to dump these hands as quickly as possible.

There are some cases that are monsters. It might be a near-perfect video in a DWI case (or a client who refuses everything), a bad charging instrument, the perfect alibi witness or other evidence that exonerates a client. Just think pocket aces or pocket kings at the table. You play 'em hard and you play 'em fast.

Then there are the marginal cases. These are the cases in which a break here or there, one way or the other, makes the difference between a winner and a loser. It's like looking down at suited connectors or a suited ace or a small pair in the hole. You want to see that flop: if you hit your hand, you pump it, and if you miss your hand, you dump it.

"There's not a man alive that can keep leaning on me. I refuse to let somebody keep taking my money, and all the other truly top players are the same way. An aggressive player might do it for a while. But at the first opportunity I get, I'm going to take a stand and put all my money in the pot.

"It's like that little boy who keeps sticking his head up and keeps getting slapped all the time. Well, sooner or later he's not going to stick his head up anymore. So if a guy keeps going on and on and keeps pounding on me, then me and him are fixing to play a pot." -- Doyle Brunson, Super System 2

When you play fast and hard with your monster cases you pick up a lot of dismissals and reductions and it gives you the ability to make a stand with a marginal case. And if you keep pounding hard enough, when you stand up and go "all in" by announcing "ready," you might just see your opponent blink.


Suckout Steve said...

Doyle Brunson is the man.

Very nice article.

Suckout Steve

Paul B. Kennedy said...

Thanks for the kind words.