Adam Peterson can’t bluff. Doesn’t bluff, won’t bluff, won’t even try. “Couldn’t if I wanted to,” he said. “If I tried to lie to my wife, she’d see it on my face. I haven’t tried in years. I can’t even surprise her on her birthday. … I’m an open book.”
So Peterson, of course, plays poker. And he plays well. He “can’t remember the last time” he left Black Hawk down. Well, almost: “Maybe last summer sometime. I took a disgusting beat late at night and had to get home. I could have gotten back up if I had more time. That sucked, but you have to let it go. . . . Before that, maybe eight, nine months earlier?”
It seems like a contradiction: a winning player who never tries to push with a bad hand? Don’t you have to represent sometimes? Switch up your game? Not Peterson, 35, a video editor for a Centennial-area production company. He said you have to know your game and what works for you. Select the right games, the right limits, the right circumstances, he said, and you can make it work.
“I’m not saying anyone (else) should play my way; this is what works for me,” he said. “You have to know your math; you can’t hang at a table too long when there’s a mack who’s got you figured.”
On the other hand, “I’ve been at a table all day with the same guys, pushed with hands that damn near made, and they’ll think they can catch up. And they’ll see me the next day and still not get away. And I’m sitting there like, ‘Cool.’ ”
Peterson, who plays Black Hawk rooms “20 or so” weekends out of the year, sticks to cash games. His type of conservative play isn’t likely to pay off regularly in tournaments. He prefers low-stakes hold’em, but he’ll join the occasional Omaha game if the situation is right. The $1-$1-$100 hold’em game at the Isle has become a recent favorite.
His big secret? “Math,” he said. “Math and game selection. It’s nothing new, but even guys who play all the time act like they don’t need math. They think math doesn’t apply to them. Know your pot odds, know your outs, get a range on who’s in the hand. That’s all I do. … I try to get some reads, but I can’t project a table image. (Heck), that’s too much work.”
You’d think Peterson must use his super-tight image to bluff now and then. Why not use it your advantage? Those chips are just waiting for you to adopt them, give them a safe and happy home. But, no.
“It’s not a big factor in the games I play,” he said. “You have to know who plays those games. I’ll have a set called down with jacks up all the time. … If you know what you do well, why mess with it?”
— Rick Gershman is Ante Up’s Colorado Ambassador. You can email him firstname.lastname@example.org.