Imagination and performance at the poker table


Albert Einstein said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” No-limit hold’em is a variation of Einstein’s statement.

In tournament play where big bets and all-ins preflop and postflop abound; simply having a hand may not matter unless you can see the river card.

Great actors seldom have a bad performance; Al Pacino and Robert De Niro can transform a poor script into a great story with a great performance.

They also have the ability to ad-lib during filming. Their imagination translates into performance. Let’s examine why a great performance will help your game.

• To have a great performance, actors study and learn the script. Do you study and learn the game?

• Actors interact with other actors in a scene. Do you know each player at the table and how to interact with them?

• Great actors take direction from directors and understand what the director wants from them. Understanding what another player wants you to do at a given moment will help you with your decision.

• Actors never over-act in a scene; they let the scene come to them. When you have a great hand do you over-act? Being natural is always the key; don’t over-act.

• Actors wear costumes designed for the movie script. Your appearance is your first impression to another player; when you look professional you create an air of professionalism.

• Directors always begin each seen with these words, “Quiet on the set, action.” A quiet player is a mysterious player. When you talk before, during, and after a hand, you’re giving information to other players. “QUIET ON THE TABLE, ACTION!”

• Actors know when they performed poorly; luckily the director will re-shoot the scene. Players don’t get a do-over; we just lose. Actors learn why the scene was done poorly; players should also know why they preformed poorly.

• Producers of movies have a budget for each production. Players should have a budget for each hand. Don’t commit more money into a bad hand, cut your losses and fold a bad hand. Producers will cut a scene from a movie when it becomes too costly.

Using your imagination and performing well in a hand can make the difference in a session. Simply knowing the game these days isn’t enough to carry you to the finish line.

— Antonio Pinzari has been playing professionally since the ’70s. He’s the creator of 23 Poker and Wild Tallahassee Poker, which you can learn more about at