Investing a Toothpick to Win a Lumberyard

An old principle i n poker i s ' 'Invest a toothpick to win a l umber-yard." In other words, you can risk $1,000 in a pot-limit game and win perhaps $50,000 or more. I n pot-limit poker this progression can be realized very quickly. For example, if you put $1,000 i nto a three-way-action pot and win it, y ou have $3,000. Put t he $3,000 i nto a four-way-action pot and win, and now you have $12,000. Put the $12,000 into a single-opponent pot and win, and now you have $24,000. You might then bust someone who has only $10,000 in chips in front of him, and now you have $34,000. One more double up and you have $68,000! In pot-limit poker, a $1,000 investment i s only five pots away from realizing $68,000 (or much more—after all, in this example, I slowed down the action considerably after r eaching $24,000).

I had a run like this, a phenomenal c omeback, in 2001 at the World Series of Poker ( WSOP) in the $10,000-buy-in world championship event. On the first day my $10,000 had been driven down to around $700, b ut by the end of the fourth day I had roughly $1,050,000 in front of me! I had turned $700 into more than $1 miilion in three days! Unfortunately for me, the last day was the most disappointing poker day of my life, and I wound up in fifth place at the finish. My consolation was $305,000 for fifth place, which helped me manage my suffering.

Andy Glazer saw a player at the WSOP of 2000 turn a sin gle $100 tournament chip into $80,000 in tournament chips before he got c aught up in the seeming i nvincibility of his comeback and fell back. I t happens.

The toothpick principle can also be applied to the individual pots t hat you play. I f you call s omeone's $70 raise before the flop, then you have a chance to win all the rest of the chips in front of that player if you win the pot. Of course, y ou can also bust yourself, a little bit at a time, by playing weak hands before the flop. S o you need to walk a fine line in order t o be a successful P LO player.

Stories about stirring comebacks and startling PLO pots could fill a book, but right now we're just t rying to get you started on the game, s o now is the t ime to talk about t he s trength of s tarting hands in PLO. I 'll list the hands in order of power from highest t o lowest. Then I'll t alk about e ach hand on the list and what makes it a strong hand. But first, a refresher on the workings of the pot

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