Why I Don’t Talk About Hands When I’m Playing by Tommy Angelo


I’ve made a new friend at Lucky Chances. His name is Django. (Pronounced Jango.) He’s a young, instantly likable player, very sharp and well-respected. The first dozen times we played together was in early 2007 when I played a few times a week for a few months. It was right after my book came out. I hadn’t played for a year and a half. During that time, he had become an established regular in the big no-limit game at LC.

One day, I raised preflop, he called from the blind, he checked the flop, I bet the flop, he checkraised, and I folded.

Another day, the same thing happened.

During those sessions I saw him do the same thing a couple times with draws.

So the next time I went up to play, I decided in the car that if this pattern came up again, I was going all the way with my hand if I had a pair.

And sure enough, it happened again. I had a pair (a pocket pair of eights), I opened for $120 preflop, he called from the big blind, he checked the flop, I bet $200, he made it $700, I called, he bet $1100 on the turn, I called, he bet $1700 on the river, I called, and he mucked. I won and no cards were shown.

(The flop was 9-4-2 rainbow. The turn was a queen and the river was a jack.)

He took a break right away. When he came back, he started talking to me about the hand. I knew right away I must really like this guy because I spoke.

“What’d you have?” he asked.

“I would like to answer your question, really I would, but I am incapable of telling the truth in situations like this, so there’s really no point in me saying anything.”

“You had pocket kings.” He said.

Fastforward to last week.

I hadn’t been to LC for about a year. I had been playing for a few hours, when Django took a seat in the game, across the table from me. Right away he started talking about the hand from a year ago. He asked if I remembered the hand.

“Yes.” I said. “The flop was 9-4-2 rainbow.” Before that sentence, it had been five or six years at least since I had mentioned actual cards at a poker table.

“Wow! Nice memory!” he said.

He said some more stuff about the hand that I didn’t reply to. A couple hours later, he moved to a seat right next to me. We chatted a little bit about this and that, and then he brought up the hand again.

“I’ll tell you what I had.” I said. “I had pocket threes. I decided in the car, on the way to the casino, that I was going to call you down with any pair if that pattern came up again.”

“I don’t believe you.” he said.

“I believe you.” I said.

“You believe that I don’t believe you?”


“Well, I had K6. Totally nothing.”

“I don’t believe you.” I said.

“Huh? Are you calling me a liar?”

“Yes. That’s what ‘I don’t believe you’ means. It means I think you are lying.”

“Well, I didn’t really mean it when I said I believed you had pocket threes.”

“I believe you.”

“But before you said you believed that I believed you had pocket threes?”

“But you forgot something.”


“That I am incapable of telling the truth when it comes to talking about hands, or talking about talking about hands.”

“You’re a sick fuck.”

“I believe you.”


Want more Tommy? His book, Elements of Poker, contains his best advice in his distinctive style. Buy it from Amazon or personally inscribed from his website at www.tommyangelo.com. Also at his website you can read Tommy’s blog and all of his old articles, and find information on his one-on-one comprehensive coaching program.

Bill Rini
Bill Rini is currently the Head of Online Poker for WSOP. He has been working in the online poker industry since 2004 and has held management roles at Full Tilt Poker and PartyPoker.