The pool of winners and losers overlap in many ways, but one of the many traits with which weaker players mark themselves is their instantaneous and natural use of the possessive adjective. It’s not universal by any means- not that readers of this obscure blog will tend to think in black and white- but the reference to “my” flush or “your” straight is a strong signal of level one play.

The reason is so simple it is easily overlooked.  These players are obsessed with their own cards and are not thinking beyond their showdown value.

Turning to the second person possessive, they are reading the board and assuming their opponent has a strong fit.  This is why it’s always “did you make your flush” on Q6588ccc, not “are you turning your tens into a sick bluff?”  This is just not in their vocabulary of poker banter or thought.

Some of the exceptions to this tendency have explanations.  I think many of the better players who refer to holdings with possessive adjectives are doing it out of habit from long ago.  There is also poker culture, where if everyone is doing it, a poker player may not want to stand out.  There are also tough players who like to use it for deception, in which case it is a verbal tell.  Conversely, of course, there are weak players who not only regularly use the possessive subconsciously but also bring it out deliberately, in the tiresome claptrap of “I check my pair.”

The meaning of this one is so obvious that it is barely worth commenting on the weakness of their holding, but it is valuable to consider why they emphasize who has the weak hand.  They never say, “check your overpair, buddy!” choosing instead to announce their own supposed holding. (This would in fact be an excellent verbal trick, as because it is never said, should elicit a truth reaction.) It’s an act of deceptive submission which contains the implied threat that they will not give up despite it, and it centers on the level one concern of showdown value.

There are also sarcastic people who like to sneer about your hand, but would never apply ownership to their own holding.  The motivation behind this one is often fear, as villain’s holding is the one personalized yet the sneerer is in a position of bluffcatching.  While unpleasant, this is not necessarily a tell of level one thinking- but it is an indication of a tilter.

Lastly, and possibly most valuably in the list of adjectival information, is the player who has bet out on the river, then calls out villain’s holding with the possessive. The board is paired, he bets, then asks his opponent, “did you make your flush?” The bettor and user of the adjective usually has a pat hand which beats the other player’s pat hand.  Using this one as a reverse tell does come up… yet it rarely works unless the villain is in fact extremely weak.  The reason is that the motivation to call out the opponent’s hand in the possessive was always fear in the first place (because if it was “a” flush, it would be one of many possible holdings), as the hand has played to where villain is likely to have what is feared.

Keep this stuff in your mind.

3 thoughts on “Possession

  1. Yes, there are some tendencies: When a bettor or raiser asks, did you make your flush, it is more likely to be a superior hand than not. When he asks did you make a flush, it is less likely to be a better hand.

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