The Tsunami

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The Stall Bluff

Last Friday, I observed an entertaining hand of poker. I was playing $1-$2 no-limit hold’em while waiting for a $2-$5 game to start at MGM. I have limited experience playing around Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, last Friday’s session didn’t break my view of poker games around the holidays: people who are playing poker when most people are getting together with family and friends aren’t typically the most cheery people in the world. My first table was so depressing that I was seriously considering cutting my Friday night session short.

Fortunately, a table change landed me at more fun table. And when the $2-$5 game started, I engaged in fun conversation about two of my favorite topics (Ron Harris and Michael Larson), I got a (probably unneeded) ego boost by successfully serving as a translator to two Chinese players in the game (who spoke no English), and one of our dealers was wearing a Ron Paul 2012 bracelet! I guess good things come to those who wait. Speaking of which…

Without a doubt, the highlight of last Friday’s session came from the fun $1-$2 table. Some hyper-aggressive player opened to something like $22 from early position. Action folded to a player in middle position. This player was PLOWED. Fortunately, he was an extremely quiet and friendly drunk. Unfortunately, it took him a LOONNNGGGG time to act. Preflop, he counted his chips for about a minute before calling. Everybody else folded. I don’t recall the flop (which is really sad given that it was out for several minutes), but the initial raiser checked to the drunk. The drunk then sat there counting his chips. 1 minute. 2 minutes. 3 minutes.

I guess someone could have called a clock, but we were trying to be somewhat accommodating and friendly. The initial preflop raiser, instead of waiting for the drunk to act, forcibly threw his hand into the muck!

I’m sitting here, almost exactly a week after this hand happened, and I’m still getting a good laugh whenever I think about this hand! As a result of this, I’ve decided to name a new play: the stall bluff. To execute the stall bluff, simply wait so long that your impatient opponents decide to fold instead of waiting for you to act.

Disclaimer: executing the stall bluff will decrease your popularity. But if no one likes you, then I guess you have nothing to lose :)

May Your EV Always be Positive!

Tony Guerrera


Feel free to repost this as long as you include the following author box (including hyperlinks):

Tony Guerrera is an established poker author, an instructor at PocketFives Training, a member of Team Moshman, and host of the popular poker strategy podcast, Killer Poker Analysis. Tony blogs about decision optimization on and off the felt at


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