The Kitchen Table Players (KTPs) are mentioned many times in my articles. They are the majority of people you’ll find on any low limit seven-card stud poker table. My guess is that on any weekend in Atlantic City between four and six of the players on any $1-5 or $5-10 table will qualify as KTPs. During the week probably only three to four will be KTPs. Recognizing KTPs is one thing; dealing with them on the table is another. Discipline is the most important factor since they will draw out on you many times. However, if you play a strong disciplined game you will prevail in the long run. This article discusses the seven deadly sins of such players. We will list the sins and then discuss how to deal with each sin. If your reading this article, you are most likely not a KTP. The fact that you are interested enough in your game to be reading poker articles indicates to me that you are series about improving your game. It also indicates that you think about your game and the strategies you employ on the table. KTP’s play the Slot Gacor game by the seat of their pants. Yes they may have read some articles and maybe even a book, but when they get on the table they know that everything Uncle Harry taught them around the kitchen table works better than what they read in any book. They commit these sins repeatedly throughout any poker session.
- PLAYING TOO MANY HANDS
The first deadly sin is one that every poker writer has cautioned against. This can be a major problem for anyone, but KTPs bring it to a higher level. KTPs consider it a sin not to play just about every hand. A friend of mine, who never played casino poker, accompanied me to AC one day to watch me play. He didn’t want to play, because he felt intimidated by the formality of the game in a casino. He sat with me and watched. Just about every hand I folded he would tap me on the shoulder and ask why I folded the hand. Starting cards like Ace, Nine, Seven rainbow were starting hands in his mind. After a while I started taking him aside and explaining that there were two aces on board and there was little potential in the hand, especially since there was a raise on third street. When I folded small pairs with a low kicker, he really thought I was crazy. He could not see why I didn’t continue and see what developed. As I’ve heard many times from KTPs “this is a seven-card game.” They want to see what will happen when all seven cards are out. The principles of kitchen table play are so ingrained they cannot or will not change their style of play. This is good for the serious player.
- NOT WATCHING THE BOARD
It amazes me how little attention KTPs pay to the cards that are out in a hand. All the information displayed is wasted on these players. I’ve seen them bet into trips on board while holding just a single small pair. Watching them bet into and call raises is fun, especially when at show down you’ll hear something like “ Oh, I didn’t see those three Kings.” I assumed they are sighted when they sit at the table but many times I wonder how much they see. What they are seeing is their hand. One of the traits of the KTP is focusing on their hand only. They look at their hand and consider all the great possibilities that might develop. They do this to the exclusion of what is happening on the board. Consequently, they are drawing dead in many situations.
- FASCINATION WITH STRAIGHTS
I hate straights. I’ve read where many top players do not play straights. I don’t, and it helps my game. The only time I end up with a straight is when a flush draw breaks but forms up a straight, or a good pair doesn’t improve but forms a part of a straight. I believe playing for straights is a bad strategy. KTPs on the other hand love straights. They will go after anything that remotely resembles a straight. I once sat at a table with a man who said, “I’m a construction worker, I construct straights” and he did. I watched him play for an hour where it seemed the only hands he played were straight draws. During that hour he won several pots. However, as time went on, he lost his stake plus a couple of additional buy-ins. My philosophy is that the most popular hand in poker is the four straight. I don’t want to be in a hand looking for a straight and getting beat by flushes or ending up with that most popular hand. That is very expensive.
- OVERPLAYING SMALL PAIRS
As with the third deadly sin, KTPs have a fascination with any pair. They learn this on the kitchen table. “Gee, you have a pair, that is a good starting point.” You will see them call raises on Third Street with a pair of threes when it is obvious the raiser has a big pair. They will stay in a hand when it is virtually hopeless since they haven’t noticed that their cards are dead and that another player has them beat. Combining this trait with not watching the board causes a lot of money to flow out of KTPs stacks.
- SLOW PLAYING BIG PAIRS
What has your experience been with a pair of Aces or Kings on Third Street? If you don’t improve, you don’t win the pot a majority of the time. Most writers recommend playing these pairs aggressively early to limit the field. If you are in a multi-way pot with a pair of Kings, look out. The KTP doesn’t see it that way. This is a huge hand for them. They will get themselves trapped by slow playing these hands. If you don’t improve when playing multi-way you are contributing to someone else’s bankroll most of the time. Those straight draws and flush draws will hit and make your big pair, at best, second best. The KTP doesn’t understand why a great hand like a pair of Aces doesn’t win all the time. By slow playing this hand they let their brethren play those straights and small pairs and crack their “Hugh” hand.
- FALLING IN LOVE WITH HIGH CARDS
Just like slow playing big pairs, the KTP is in love with high cards. Now I’m not talking about overcards that you can play cheaply on early streets. I’m talking about any face card or ace. If one of them is in the starting three cards, chances are our KTP friend is going to be in the pot. It doesn’t matter how many of those same cards are out, remember they don’t watch the board. I’ve heard it said many times at the end of a hand “gee, I had an Ace and my hand never got better.” Usually I silently ask, “then why did you call three and five dollar bets to the river.” The reason is they are in love with the high cards; they are the best cards around. Uncle Harry said if you start with any of them you could make a big hand. This is possible, but the KTP just plays them all the time regardless of the circumstances. That strategy can cost a fortune.
- LETTING EMOTION DOMINATE THEIR GAME
KTPs go on tilt much more than the average player. In fact, in seems that some KTPs are on tilt all the time. A bad beat in their mind can destroy the evening of playing cards. But they don’t walk away, or take a break; they keep on playing and get madder and madder at the game and the serious players on the table. I can’t get any cards is a frequent complaint of KTPs. The question I like to ask (in my mind only NEVER out loud) is “then how come you’re playing every hand”? When they are on tilt they many times alter their play so as they may commit at least six of the seven sins during one hand instead of the usual two to three sins.
Now let’s discuss how to deal with the sins of the KTPs. First factor is to recognize and remember whom the KTPs are you are playing with. It is rare for them to change their playing style so once you label them a KTP, they usually will consistently play as a KTP. However, I have seen one exception to this rule. Identify them as soon as possible after sitting in a game. You probably have played with some previously so you can concentrate on new players in the game.
Taking each sin, we’ll look at how to play against the KTP (we are assuming, of course, that you are playing a strong hand in each case):
- Playing too many hands is obvious to the attentive player. Going beyond that you must try to see the type of starting hands they are playing further through the streets. You know they will bet Third-street almost every time. But try to determine their starting hand when they lay down a hand on seventh-street. This will give you an idea of what this particular KTP is playing all the way. Therefore, when you have them in a pot with you, you’ll be better able to put them on a hand.
- Your watching the board, they are not. This is a great advantage. When you see they are drawing dead, or you are fairly sure they are, you can bet very aggressively and they will call. Remember they aren’t aware that they are drawing dead. Take advantage of this every time.
- Many KTPs give great tells when they are drawing for a straight. You can see them “counting” the cards to see if they have the straight. Usually they will look for a long time at their hole cards to be sure it is a straight. The reason it takes so long is it usually is an inside straight. Bet aggressively when you see them drawing to a straight. Yes, they are going to draw out on you and you may lose for the session due to your aggressive betting. However, in the long run, more of those aggressive bets will be in your stack rather than theirs.
- Let them bet their small pairs. On early streets, just call. When your hand improves to where you know you have either a good draw or high pairs to beat their small pairs, start raising. You will get called; they know that those threes and deuces are the best hand in play. You know better.
- Slow playing the big pairs is many times hard to recognize. Since the KTPs are playing most hands and calling bets regularly, it is difficult to know whether they are overplaying small pairs or slow playing high pairs. They will surprise you a lot. However, if you are playing quality hands, with good discipline, their play should not cost you much. Watch for tells. They usually get a little excited with a pair of Kings or Aces; it shows on their faces not in their bets. When a high card goes down in another hand, look for reaction. KTPs will usually react to seeing their card go to someone else. This is one of the few times they actually watch the board for their cards. You can capitalize on this trait.
- KTPs play aces and kings and queens and jacks. I’m not talking about pairs of these; I’m talking about just one in their hand. They love high cards. I do too and play them many times when they are over-cards to the board and I have at least two over-cards. They play them all the time. Watch for this trait. Again, try to determine the starting hand when they showdown on seventh. You’ll many times see that they called bets and raises with something like Ace, Nine, Seven unsuited. Watch the board for high cards being folded. They aren’t watching and they will play dead cards many times. Use this to your advantage when you know they are drawing dead to try and beat your two pair.
- The high emotion of KTPs helps the serious player in two ways. One, it helps identify the KTP. Those standard comments about luck, a seven-card game, you can’t win at this game and I’m not getting any cards, give them away. Two, you can take advantage of them when they are on tilt. Many times they will call raises with far inferior hands because they are still upset with you drawing that flush to beat their trips an hour ago. Constantly evaluate the emotions of the KTPs on the table. If they are winning they may become aggressive with bets and raises. If they are losing (which is usual) they may try to force something to happen. Maintain your discipline, play quality hands, and they will supply you with a nice addition to your bankroll.
In summary, the KTP is where most of your winnings are going to come from in low-limit seven-card stud. Treat them nice. Encourage them to play the way they do. Congratulate them when they commit a sin but win a pot in spite of their play. Most important, keep your discipline no matter how many sins they commit that beat you. Remember the odds are against them. You will prevail in the long run. They don’t have a chance in any extended period of time to be a winner, when committing these sins over and over again. They are in poker hell, and you want them to stay there. Recognize them and adjust your play to take advantage of them. You will reach poker heaven with many winning sessions. They, on the other hand, will continue to rail about not being able to win at this game.