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Should you ever feel bad for your opponents?

PhulHouze Posts: 200Member
edited November -1 in NLHE Strategy Discussion
I know the poker code demands going to war and showing your opponents no mercy. I believe it was Doyle Brunson who said he'd check-raise his own grandmother. I make it a rule never to soft play because I feel it can have such a detrimental effect on your game, mostly because you risk leveling yourself, but also because we're at the table to make money, and everyone should know what they're getting into when they sit down.

That being said, I recent sat at a table where a guy was on such a degenerate tear I couldn't help but wonder if there was some type of line at which it becomes unethical to take someone's money. I have definitely seen my share of degenerate gamblers in my day, but this guy towered over them all. When I sat down at this 2/5 table, he was sitting on about 5k. He seemed like an experienced player, but was repeatedly making bad decisions, like calling down with dominated hands and making stupid moves at pots again and again even after no one was respecting his raises. All pretty typical tilt, but after he lost his last 2k when a reasonably tight and competent opponent flopped top set and bet the hell out of it for three streets, he went on this most insane megatilt I've ever seen. After losing the 5k stack, he wound up buying in again and again, losing another 5k out of his pocket. He left to get cash and returned again. He literally would never fold any hand no matter what an opponent bet, so he was basically stacking off every hand or every other hand for 500. Of course, he occasionally caught something dumb and double up (like when he called me for $100 pf w 69o, flopped a 6 and got it against my AA on the turn and rivered a 9...I quickly got it all back and then some). I know it sounds strange, but to me it felt different from a typical guy on tilt, and just seemed like a real addiction where he couldn't pull himself away. I actually mentioned something to the floor that the guy seemed like he had a problem and had gone through 10k, but the floor just shrugged his shoulders. After he stacked me I rebought for 400 and got up to around 2k (mostly from him) before leaving. It was literally the first time I've ever really felt bad against taking someone's money, and I'll stack a 90 year old lady if she wants to hang onto her aces when I clearly have her beat...

Has anyone been in a similar situation?


  • DK Posts: 28Member
    Never. Why do you think your opponents are playing? They want to win your money. And on the slim chance that a degen wins big, he's not going to feel the least bit bad about it.

    It is a bit hard when someone at the table is clearly a degenerate though. You're aware degenerates exist but you prefer not to think about it, and you can't do that when they're at your table blowing their savings. All you can do is recognize that these people have problems, you're powerless to help them, and if you're not the one taking their money then another player or the casino will.
  • AesahAesah Posts: 1,048Pro
    Yes, I frequently feel bad when winning someone's money but am trying to learn not to. It's a leak IMO
  • SatanLovesPoker Posts: 168Member
    The whole game of winning poker is exploiting people who aren't as smart, patient, or emotionally stable(Tilt) as you.

    But I do not feel bad about it at all! And here is why - most of the biggest contributors in poker games are
    rich people, business owners, corporate execs, people who inherited the money, etc... and how did they
    get their money? By exploiting others.... treating there employess like crap, not giving raises, etc... Trust
    me i've been in the corporate/professional world along time, and around people with money. I wouldn't
    even waste an ounce of pity on taking money from any of them. I gaurantee the guy in OPs post
    has plenty more, and there are thousands others like him unloading their money at craps, black jack,slots etc....
  • RecreationalRogerRecreationalRoger Posts: 769Subscriber
    I have never, ever, ever, felt bad taking someone's money at the poker table.
  • marseille Posts: 400Subscriber
    Feeling bad about taking money from certain players is certainly a leak but one I am willing to live with. Poker is about pitting yourself against the worst, not the best- not exactly a noble undertaking. I try to remember during my moments of feeling magnanimous just how hard it is to win in this game.
  • SpewArtist Posts: 68Subscriber
    As the Steve Miller band once said: "Go on, take the money and run."
  • JCW Posts: 591Subscriber
    I remember many years ago playing at a table with this old woman. She stacked off and she was going into your purse for more money. I saw that she only had $100 left. She was debating whither or not to put in on the table. I was thinking "DO IT!" and then felt very badly afterwards.

    In the end, I suggest that you just accept it as a condition of the game we play for money. If you can just remove the "DO IT!" from your mind and just realize people come to the table for SO many different reason and situations in life. That they play for so many different reason. For me it was the "DO IT!" that was the problem.

    A few months ago, I played with a guy just playing terrible. Just giving it away. Maybe 4k in 30 minutes. Then someone said something to upset him and he broke up. He said his grandmother just died and that she was the closes person to him in the world. He then left.

    Now I don't know if that was the guys case money or his weekend party money. No idea. But I now just think, "Thank you, in your depression, you decided to blow you money on reckless poker instead of Blackjack, hookers and/or blow." There are a lot of ways people are self destructive. With me they only lose money.... not their health.

    Lastly, I think about something I read a long time ago about American Indians. When they killed an animal for food, afterwards they would pray to the Animal thanking the Animal and telling the Animal how its meat will help his family. He would tell the Animal how he wouldn't waste it or makes its death meaningless.

    I think as Poker Players need to spend more time being thankful to the weaker players and not belittling them. Even degenerates have options on how to destroy their lives... be thankful to them that they are choosing to help yours in the process.
  • ThatOtherJeremy Posts: 314Member
    The only thing I occasionally feel sorry about in these situations is the individuals lack of self-discipline. Somewhere, in a place deep down that I don't speak of often, a little hole is in my heart for the true and hapless degen. But then I quickly fill that hole with crispy, cold, hard cash.

    We cannot consume ourselves with matters we are helpless to change. The goal of this game is to make money, and no smart player tries to accomplish that by playing people better than him. We need weak. We need flawed. We need casual. We need the thrill-chasing deep pockets, and the ink-still-warm Friday paychecks. Degens help make our poker goals a reality
  • AesahAesah Posts: 1,048Pro
    I think what JCW said about animals is a good way of looking for it. Should I feel bad if I kill a spider in my room? Sometimes I do and I think it's also a leak IMO
  • ThatOtherJeremy Posts: 314Member
    lol this is getting so existential
  • Mike Posts: 371Member
    For the most part i dont care that much who i get money from. But every now and then there is that one degen or guy that loses his money and looks super sad or something like that and you can tell that the loss really did hurt him. Thats why i play mostly online now. I didnt like seeing the guy who i was taking the money from. Its much easier for me to take money from the computer (i know they are real people on the other side but you cant see them).
  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,086Subscriber
    Not to beat an old dog... BUT..

    These folks are GOING to spew their money off to someone. They might as well give it to me. That is the mindset you must have. And as JCW said .. be thankfull that their spew was good for you.

    I take a slightly less negative view that SLP has as I think most rich people who worked for their money are not asshole but strong independent business owners that do right by their employess and are just playing poker to have a good time (like harry) or to fullfill some need (like me to solve the puzzle, prove I am as good as men, etc...)

    that said they all play for different reasons and we should all just stop and think for a moment that without them we all wud be playing against Barts and how much fun would that be? NOT!

  • Mike Posts: 371Member
    not to try and make any of you feel bad or anything but i think the reasoning of "hes gonna spew it to someone you might as well take it" is stupid. Does that mean that its ok to start selling meth (drug of choice for the example because breaking bad ldo) because the meth heads and tweakers are gonna get it from someone anyways? Does it make it ok to give a minor cigarettes/alcohol because they are going to find a way to get it anyways? Sure you do what you gotta do to provide for yourself and family but the business of strictly playing poker for a living means that the only way you get paid is when someone else loses. Most of the people in the games can afford to lose what they lose and thats why poker players actually exist. Its just the ones who are ruining their lives from gambling are the ones i feel bad for. And i dont think there is anything wrong with that.
  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,086Subscriber

    Those are not good examples as both using or distributing Meth and or cigarettes to minors is illegal. Playing poker is not..

    If someone has a problem where they are making the decision to give all their money away is not my fault. Am I only supposed to take the money of someone who is not an addict? How do we know this? Is there some kind of test that can be given to determine this?

    I once played a 8/16 limit game where a guy seated a couple players over mentioned he was about to go bankrupt for the second time and is in a divorce with his wife. He had lost over 100k playing limit hold em. If he had reached out to the floor he can self bad himself but its his responsibility to do so.

    Not to digress to another topic but at the core of many govt belief that there is something more addictive in poker than in other forms of addiction and that is simply not true. There are just as many shopaholics as addicted poker players and yet we still allow (mainly women) to have credit cards or go online etc.. Do we morally stop selling them a pair of Manolo Blahniks? No of course not.

    edit: Oh and although a true addict cannot control himself by the way of simply running out of money to play will stop him. I feel for him but he WILL give his money away.. would I feel morally superior by not taking his money? If I knew for a fact that someone was addicted I might bring it up to the floor and asked them to talk to the player.

    Last year a gal who now plays quite often at the Bike is an alcoholic. She drinks while she plays and the more she drinks the worse she is. I see her at least a couple of times a week. I suspect she is an alcoholic although I am not 100% sure. One time she was so drunk she could hardly speak. Of the 3500 or so she won in a tourney she had already given away more than 1500 or so. It was obvious she was so drunk.. BUT she didnt want to leave. We at the table suggested she do so and she refused. it finally took the manager to come over and tell the dealer to stop giving her cards. She was FURIOUS. But ended up fast asleep at a table behind us.

    thats was the ONLY time I ever spoke up and ONLY because she was so drunk she didnt know what she was doing.. I feel bad for her ..mostly for her alcoholism ..

  • NicholasK Posts: 237Member
    Gambling addicts are a moral grey area to anyone who wants to play poker seriously and wants to create good in this world. It's further clouded by the empathy we all feel toward the gambling addict, because by nature we walk that razor blade edge every time we sit down. It's not for us to decide what's better for another human being and we should not be so arrogant as to decide "what's best for them".

    We are not gods and cannot know how this loss will effect them. Nobody makes a change in their life when they are on top and perhaps plummeting to the bottom of the barrel might help them get the help they need/their family get the help they need, or just help them know they should play smart sober poker.

    Give food to the homeless, go out of your way to help someone seeking a way out of their addictions. Be a "good" person every chance you get. Thank them for their money (in your attitude) and play them as ruthlessly as you would anyone else.
  • Mike Posts: 371Member
    Im not saying that its bad for you to take advantage of the situations that come up to make the most money possible at your job. I just dont see it as a leak to feel sympathy for those who have a gambling addiction.

    Part of the reason that i work a regular job and not play for a living is because i feel bad for those who have a problem, or those kids who think they are so good and get crushed when the play thinking players. The pain that some people express on their faces when they lose a huge pot is not something i enjoy. Maybe im just not cut out to be as rutheless as you need to be in order to make as much money as possible to become a baller from poker but im ok with that. Poker is a beautiful game when 2 people who are thinking on a high level play hands with each other. Not so much when some drooler comes in a loses a month of wage playing a game he has no chance in winning. The reason that poker is so popular is that its a fun game with a monetary prize attached to it. Rec players generally have fun when they play with a chance of making a little bit of money. Thats why they play. Having someone who is clearly addicted to gambling and is in major debt/ lost all their life savings takes the fun out of the game for me (and im sure others too). I want the game to grow and to get more popular, just not at the expense of the addicts.

    Not sure how much of this makes sense and im not proof reading or anything just sorta spilling my thoughts on the topic. Just dont take what people say and do that if its against what you morally feel. There is nothing wrong with sympathizing for people who have a problem. If you dont feel comfortable taking money from those people you just have to realize you wont win as much as you could. You just have to balance that and think honestly with yourself if its worth it or not. There are more important things in the world than money.
  • SatanLovesPoker Posts: 168Member
    Thehammah said

    I take a slightly less negative view that SLP has as I think most rich people who worked for their money are not asshole but strong independent business owners that do right by their employess and are just playing poker to have a good time (like harry) or to fullfill some need (like me to solve the puzzle, prove I am as good as men, etc...)

    That's just my opinion for higher stakes. If it's 1/2 or 1/3 I am happy to take an internet kids money
    who is too lazy to get a job, and old nits cushy pension, or a random degens disability check.

    We are in a casino everyone, it is the last place on earth you want to become trusting and compansionate. DTA!!!
  • Medic2038 Posts: 27Subscriber
    Here in PA we have a self exclusion list for the casinos. If someone is a degen and puts their self on the list they get arrested for trespassing if they try to play.

    The only person I legitimately felt bad for at the table was a year or two ago some mentally retarded guy sat down. In the end though it's still a choice. Nobody is forcing these people to sit down at the table.
  • kdogmc Posts: 100Subscriber
    If you really feel compassionate for the addictive gambler, you should try and take every cent he has. He / She will only really have that moment of clarity when their face is truly being kicked in. The more punches to the pocket book the sooner it may dawn on them that they are not cut out for this life style. Either learn to play the game or wake the F*** up and move on.

    Just last week a player was stuck 4k in a 2-5 game and asked the floor to go on the sheet for another G. The floor asked, " Are you sure? This isn't going to effect your life or your family?" He said, " No. I'm fine." I didn't believe him and he went on to lose it.

    I remember when I first started playing this game I saw a huge hand where this guy got stacked and he just sat there after the hand staring up at us railbirds. His eyes asking, " What happened?"

    Or my favorite gut wrenching hand. I was at another table 1/2 playing with chump change, the table next to us had been going for 3 or 4 days straight. A nasty game with a lot of money on the table. Some guy had just left the table and come back an hour or so later. He said give me 10k. So he must have busted and was rebuying. That was when I first realized the amounts they were playing. Not but an hour later the guy was standing up. Not screaming or upset, like guys can get when sucked out on. Tearing the cards up. He just stood up and said quietly, almost pleading to this casual friend I know, " Tim, tim,.....how Tim...Tim how?" I could hear it in his voice that money meant something. That hand surely f***ed him. I asked Tim much later about the hand but of course he couldn't remember.

    If you say this crap doesn't affect you I think you're lying to yourself. But how do you handle it? People go to bars and act stupid, others can act stupid right out in broad daylight. I don't want to be those people. Poker is a game of discipline. Its a very Zen game for me. The more level headed and even keeled I play the more I win. Losing happens and winning happens, but I want to remain on focused. Don't get too excited or angered. But if I'm honest, I make plenty of mistakes and I get angry, talk too much, etc., etc. But I love the discipline. Yes I'm playing 9 others at the table, but I'm really playing against myself.

    People need to find their poker buddha. Most haven't.
  • PokerIsFrustrating Posts: 657Member
    I played with a nice older asian lady once who told me she is addicted to gambling. She used to play baccarat and had a bunch of houses and lost all of them, along with most of her friends and family. She switched to playing 1/2 no limit to lose less.

    "How are you doing?" I asked her.

    "I lost $10,000 so far this month." She said.

    Her, I legit felt bad for, to the extent that I tried to tell her privately how she might improve. She didn't really listen though.

    Most degens that I meet at the casino are horrible people who deserve to lose money and to go home feeling like stupid losers because of the horrible way they treat dealers, floors, other staff and other players. So I shed no tears for them. The nice degens don't expect to win anyway, so at least they're getting entertainment out of it - like if you or I bought sports or movie tickets.

    Finally, even if I feel bad if I'm in the game I'm going all out and not taking it easy on them. After all someone is getting that money they put down today and if it isn't me they'll lose to someone else and be in the same situation.
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