It seems like some players never fold. They always pick up a hand with possibilities and get to the showdown. Their poker sessions are full of excitement because they are involved so much of the time.
For mere mortals who look down at uninspiring off-suit four-gappers as often as not, what can we do to fruitfully pass the time between hands?
Well, there is a poker game going on right before our eyes, remember? It could be an interesting one, with battles between skilled adversaries delivering storylines with subplots to rival the best.
Therefore, the most obvious option is pay attention to the game. If it’s a brick-and-mortar live game, there are tells to discover.
No matter what game, you should take note of how often each player enters a hand, who tends to raise preflop, and who likes to limp. Observe their bet sizing, their timing, and think back on how they played each hand once their cards are revealed at the showdown.
You can also reflect on your own play.
- If you’re online, replay some previous hands to make sure you took in the significant details. Make a note of hand IDs for later review.
- What are your expectations for the rest of the current session?
- If you are in a tournament, you should think about whether you intend to place high, or whether it looks like scrambling into the lower prizes is your only hope.
- If you are in a ring game, you should think about the quality of the game. Maybe even think about changing seats or topping up chips if you don’t already have the table maximum in play.
- You should follow the hand in progress and try to put players on a hand to see if their cards are what you expected, according to their play.
For new players, some things you should avoid doing are:
- Reacting to cards which are dealt to the board, so as to give away what you folded.
- Advising other players how they should be playing when facing a difficult decision.
- Making general comments about the speed of the game or other players style of play.