Whenever I think of old school poker, I think of smokey backrooms and dimly lit alleyway entrances. I mean seriously, should you ever have poker without cigars? Hecks nah! That’s like peanut butter with no jelly. Like ham with no burger. Like Tom with no Jerry. They just go together!
Just like when I write, I also have to have a cigar in my hand when I’m playing poker. I’m not sure if cigars serve as my security blankie (Linus) or what but they just seem to help me do most things better. Let’s break down how they can help you during your next poker tourney.
Think back to the last time you had to really study for a test. Did you turn on some music? Was it necessary to get in a certain mental “zone”? Did you have to have that certain seat at your “study” table at Starbucks? Some things just help your concentration, right?
Well recently, I played in my monthly poker game at Battleground Smokes and Spirits. It’s pretty cool in that with your buy-in to the game you receive 2 cigars. While many of the players are there more-so for poker than the cigars, I’m quick to cut and light mine before I’m even dealt my first hand. Why? Well, like what music does for some, watching thick clouds of blue smoke rise from my cigar put me in a place of zen…a place that allows me to leave fear behind, calming my nerves so I can take chances and punk the other players with a bluff or two. If enjoying a cigar takes you to a peaceful, stress-free place, it’s definitely worth enjoying one while waiting to hit a straight!
Patience Is a Virtue
When making strategic decisions it’s important that one does not feel rushed. If I am contemplating calling your all-in bet, I need a minute or two to weigh my options, calculate the odds and to assess the risk. Because everyone at the table may not be taking the decision making as seriously as you, there may be times when the others players give you that “hurry up” face or say, “Come on dude! It’s your bet.” Well just like politicians used their pipes and cigars to stall and buy time before answering angry townsfolk back in day, so to can you use your cigar and a couple of well-timed puffs to fake out your opponents and push your chips in. “Is she stalling because it’s a good hand?” “Is he taking his time because his hand sucks?” Wouldn’t they like to know!
Anyone that enjoys premium cigars knows that its a lifestyle that allows the world to slow down. Aficionados that appreciate the slow and deliberate process of making and smoking a cigar know that the best things in life come to those who are patient. This patience bodes well when your on-edge opponents are haphazardly throwing chips into the pile and you are puffing on your stogie and studying the action at the table.
Keep a Cigar/Poker Face
The most subtle movements, facial expressions, twitches, etc while sitting at the table (called tells) are used against you to call your bluffs and to take your money. Many players attempt to keep a straight face (poker face) when they have a great hand, while others try to distract by talking, smiling and laughing.
Experienced players are able to pick up on your patterns and actions, so throw them off by reaching for and puffing on your cigar every couple of minutes. Not only will this keep it lit, it also helps you to be unreadable as your actions are the same whether or not you have pocket aces or a crappy 10, 2…unless you’re Doyle Brunson. Just when they think you only take a puff when you have a decent hand, take a puff when your cards stink…just to keep them honest and to keep your chips. Your serious and consistent “cigar face” is even better than a stone-cold poker one. “I can’t see his expressions because that dang cigar is always in the way!!!”
Use these simple strategies and you’ll no doubt make it to a final table. I can’t guarantee you’ll win it all, but you’ll look calm, cool and collected getting there…all while enjoying your favorite stick and stacking chips!
My cigar of choice during this poker tournament was the Mbombay Corojo Oscuro Perfecto, purchased at Battleground Smokes and Spirits.