Laundry, Part 1: Hindsight Is 20/20

Jeff FreemanI've been struggling with a label for you. I settled on "Laundry." That is to say: "Laundry doesn't fold itself." If I sound a little bitter in these next few installments, it's because I've lost a few hefty loads of chips to Laundry players in my casual poker playing career.

One point needs to be made clear: Laundry is not a Call Station. Laundry continues to call bets even if the hole cards they're holding are dead in the water. Call Stations at least have the common sense to fold a hand that isn't getting them anywhere.

Laundry players develop in a number of different ways. The simplest, of course, is the Laundry that just doesn't know that much about the game of poker.

Some beginner players, however, turn into Laundry by fixating on a few unimportant developments in the game.

It's impossible to consider an infinite number of possibilities and characters playing out in a hand of poker, so we'll keep it simple. Let's say you find yourself with hole cards. Someone else throws out a bet you're not comfortable with. You fold your hand. You sit back, joke with a friend, and pick up your beer.

The flop comes down: . Two pair! The knife of what-could-have-been stabs at your gut.

The turn card hits: ! Damn it -- a full house! The knife turns, and the cold beer you just swallowed suddenly has a sickly warm feel to it.

The only scenario you play out in your head is what may have transpired had you called a potentially lethal bet from a player somewhere higher up on the rail: "I should've stayed in! I would've had that gigantic pot, and I'd be chip leader. I probably would've even ended up winning the tournament!"

In other words, your fixation on your garbage folded cards blinds you to the action that developed at the table and caused you to fold in the first place.

What you're failing to realize is the disaster that could've befallen you. Dedicating a portion of your chips to a set of hole cards that are better off balancing out a rickety restaurant table is a slippery slope. You really, really want a hand to develop, but other players are forcing you to contribute more chips to the pot for the minuscule chance that your hope is actually realized.

So, you end up playing crap cards for a slim chance of striking it rich. You remain completely oblivious to the bets coming your way. You remain entirely ignorant to hands other players may be betting on. You fail to draw even the simplest correlations between the big bets and a developing table. All you want is a 6 to at least pair your hand on the river (while ignoring the size of the bets and the flush draw already on the table)!

As developing your playing style goes, it's very dangerous to ignore what you did right in order to fixate on what could have been. You may pull down a monster pot or two (and it will likely be at my expense), but the reality is that you're eventually going to make a very charitable contribution to your opponents' stacks.

Instead, consider the big picture. Was your fold really a bad decision? What hand could you have hoped for in holding ? There was a very slim chance your hole cards were going to develop into the monster that eventually played out. The correct decision shouldn't be second-guessed when you're faced with another two unimportant hole cards.

Don't dig yourself into a hole. You don't have to know poker odds to understand the sinking feeling in your gut every time you make a call means you should've folded a long time ago!