Flair is good by Paul Jackson

Flair is good by Paul Jackson

Friday, 1 October 2010

I often talk scornfully about “flair” in poker and very often I’m referring to little more than a mindless act by a poker player of any ability. There are, however, instances of true flair that deserve recognition, even if that recognition is from a player with little personal flair, such as me. In fact, the most flair I ever display is when my jumper has more than one colour in it.

In my younger days, when I was able to stay awake long enough to travel around Europe playing poker, I saw fellow players showing unusual amounts of flair away from the table. This included an over 65-year-old satisfying himself (and only himself) with three prostitutes, one after the other.

Another, which I did not actually see, involved a player engaging a lap dancer on a friend’s pool table and then failing to contribute towards the cost of a re-cloth. It can difficult trying to spot the black ball went there are multiple “spots” to choose from, apparently.

On the table we see a lot of flair in the regular cash game I play at the Broadway casino in Birmingham and the two players there with the most flair in their repertoires are Claudio and James.

James exhibits flair with his relentless raises and re-raises, which make him very difficult to play against. When he runs well he can cause considerable psychological distress and pain to his victims, and with his aggressive style and excessive use of fold equity potential, he can easily create some great “you can’t believe what happened to me” poker stories.

I recently saw him call an early position raise from a new, tight player from the small blind with J-5 off suit and proceed to lead out on a flop of Q-8-4, only to hit runner-runner straight for the win.

In another hand, in a £5/£10 NL cash game, after re-raising from the small blind with 7-8, he was called by A-7, which then called his all-in on a flop of A-Q-4, only for James to hit a rather fortunate pair of running eights for an unlikely win.

Unfortunately for James and his victims he shows even more flair when he is in close proximity to a blackjack or roulette table.

It is, however, very unlikely that James will ever show as much flair as the Flair Daddy himself, Claudio. Claudio once called a large raise holding 3-6 off suit because the raiser had “too many buttons undone on his shirt”. In another situation he called down a solid player who is a solicitor by profession because “he represents people he knows are guilty”.

One of his more memorable “flair moments” of late came when he called an under-the-gun raise from a player with K-K. The flop was 2s5dKd and, out of position and facing no fewer than three opponents, he led out for £35. What else can you do on that flop when you have 4s6s? There is absolutely no getting away from it and, after all, if you’re going to call a bet you may as well bet it yourself, or so I read on a forum somewhere.

So, naturally, the player with the top set decides to just call in order to allow Claudio to hang himself. The turn card is a 3c and Claudio bets £50, which is met by a re-raise to £150 from the now slightly concerned player with top set. Claudio, having now hit an actual front-door draw, obviously calls and successfully value bets the ace on the river.

My good friend Karl Mahrenholz, a true giant in the UK poker scene, was recently playing in the Luton GUKPT and had the misfortune to be seated on the same table as one of those players who talks the game of several champions rolled into one without ever having won a live tournament of any kind. He had spent the entire duration of the tournament limping into pots with any old rubbish (he had not been seen to limp any strong hands) and telling anyone who would listen, and everyone who didn’t want to, about some online tournament win he’d had while providing free “expert” commentary and analysis of every hand played.

He limps into yet another pot and Karl decides to take advantage of his probable weak holding by isolating him. Karl raises, the genius limper three-bets and, pretty confident his opponent is holding a weak hand, Karl calls.

The flop is 7-3-3 and Karl check-calls, planning to check-raise all-in on the turn as a more profitable and credible option than check-raising the flop. His opponent, however, also checks the turn, a deuce, and the river card comes an ace.

Karl figures that his opponent will be unable to hold back and will find it impossible to not bet this card, and so, to extract maximum value, and in support of his assessment of the complete lack of strength in his opponent’s hand, he decides to check-raise the river. Karl checks, his opponent bets, Karl re-raises and his opponent folds, showing nine-high. Karl responds, “Just so you know you weren’t bluffed…” and tables 10-4 off suit.

Karl’s opponent then proceeds to tell the player next to him how he had represented the ace perfectly and that “I tell you one thing for sure, he did not have a read on me”.

Not often you see two players show such flair in a single hand, albeit one in reality and the other in his own mind.

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