All Talk and No Action,
A Two-Part Lesson from Erick Lindgren
You can learn a lot by listening. You can learn
almost as much by talking, if you ask the right
The following occurred at a tournament at
Bellagio in 2004.
I draw a very good first table and recognize
only two faces. They are solid pros, neither of
whom is very aggressive. I know I can take control
of the table and quickly look around to find the
best targets. I notice an older gentleman in a
cowboy hat who's involved in too many pots and
decide he's my mark. My plan is to bluff him at
first opportunity and do anything I can to get
under his skin. I want him to view me as a young
hot-shot, with the hopes that he'll bully me later
when I have the goods.
I chop away at some small pots and my $20K
starting stack is now $43K when Cowboy and I
finally get to lock horns. I've been raising a lot
of hands and splashing my chips around a bit. In
this case, the blinds are $200-$400, and I bring
it in for $1,200 with pocket jacks. I get three
callers, including Cowboy, in the big blind. The
flop comes 7h 4c 4h and the small blind checks.
It's Cowboy's turn, and he pushes all in. He looks
proud, firing his $37K into a $5K pot.
I'm completely befuddled. What's going on? I
can't make any sense of it. There's a player to
act behind me, but he's only got $3K - he isn't
going to matter at all in this hand. My best bet
here is to get Cowboy to talk. "Why'd you bet
so much?" I ask. He tells me to call and find
I make a list of his possible hands: A-x hearts
for the nut flush draw. Pocket eights, maybe. Or a
random berzerko bet with a pair of sevens. After a
minute or two of deliberation, I call. He flips up
T-7c for one pair! He fails to improve and I now
have $80K, and am ready to roll.
It's important to know who your weaker players
are. Concentrate on playing against them and
finding ways to get them to make a big mistake.
You can't count on the pros to make those
mistakes. In this particular case, I knew he was
getting tired, and through a few verbal jabs, I
was able to make myself his target.
Next week, a similar question with a very
different answer yields an equally large profit.