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Dan Cates

Interview with Dan Cates, aka jungleman12

What in the world is a poker dwarf and how would to recognize one? If you are paying attention during the game, dwarves are easy to recognize. Their personality dictates how they play. They are generally quiet, passive creatures who would rather get along than fight. Their need for social interaction is what brings them to the poker table. As such, they try to get along with everyone. They don't like to raise or be aggressive because it's simply not in their nature. They simply limp along playing a large number of hands.

How many hands would they play? They play between 30% and 50% of their hands. As a result, they are in a lot of pots. On the river, they are apt to turn over almost any two cards.

What sort of hands would we expect to see them playing? This is a very difficult question because they play so many hands that it is hard to narrow down. The majority of their hands will consist of (1) any two cards ten or higher, (2) any two suited cards, (3) any two connected cards, (4) any hand with an ace, and (5) any pocket pair.

Do they understand position? Will they be more selective if there is a raise before them? It seldom makes a difference, although not all dwarves are the same. It depends on where they are in their life cycle. Older dwarves are generally more selective and a bit more aggressive, but never forget they are all loose and passive when compared to the other creatures of the poker forest.

What else do we need to understand about playing against a dwarf?

A dwarf is a very friendly and considerate player. You should be equally friendly. He is playing for social interaction and camaraderie; you want to make his playing experience as enjoyable as possible. Do not under any circumstances go out of your way to embarrass or humiliate a dwarf. Congratulate them if they win, sympathize if they lose. When playing heads up, don't try for a check raise. He is passive, so it probably will not work. Rather than potentially embarrass him, simply bet out and be happy with the call. Don't try and get every last chip. Dwarves always come back for more so there will be other times. Eventually all his money will come to you, so be patient. Never bluff. Dwarves are going to call; that is a given. Make sure that you have something to show them on the river. Bet for value more often than you would against another creature. If you have top pair and a weak kicker, go ahead and bet. Do not call with a marginal hand. Since they are passive by nature, you need a strong hand to call their raises.

Do we need to adjust our game when there are many dwarves in the game? It can be very frustrating playing against a lot of dwarves because many of your starting hands will not hold up and many of your normal tactics will not seem to work. You will need to show the best hand to win the pot. The good news is the pots will generally be large. As a general rule, unsuited high cards such as A-J, K-J, A-T, K-T, Q-T, and the like are very weak hands and should often be folded pre-flop. The reverse of this is true. Suited connectors, small and medium pairs, and high suited cards become more valuable since there will seldom be a raise and your implied odds create a favorable situation. Play a few more hands than you would in a normal game, but restrict your hand choices to those hands that will hold up against a large number of players. Don't be afraid to raise with a powerful drawing hand. For example, if you are in late position and have high suited connectors such as K-Q, Q-J, J-T, or even T-9 and there are a large number of players in, go ahead and raise. You are building a pot. If you hit the flop, go ahead and play your hand strongly. If not, since you are playing with passive dwarves, they will generally check to the aggressor allowing you to see the turn for free if you choose. Don't attempt to check-raise since there is a strong chance that no-one will bet. Don't bluff. Someone will call. Whether the dwarves want to keep you honest, are curious about your hand, or simply are not paying attention, they will call. Don't be fancy. There is a time and a place for fancy play. To try and use a complex move against a table full of dwarves is a waste of your time, creativity, and money.

Do the dwarves have any strengths in their play? Absolutely. One of their greatest strengths is their tenacity. They do not give up on a pot. This can be of tremendous benefit when playing against some of the more aggressive players of the forest who are using aggression and bluffing without being selective in choosing their spots. The baboon, for example, lured by the dwarf's passivity, may continue to bluff when they should not.

Are their times when you yourself play like a dwarf? I will often play like a dwarf when I am faced with a baboon. But we will talk about that when we deal with baboons.

If you had to give advice to a dwarf on how to improve his play, what would it be? I would advise the dwarf to do a number of things:

  1. Carefully watch the more successful creatures - the wizards, trolls, and goblins.
  2. Take the time to read a book and learn the fundamentals such as hand selection, position, and pot odds.
  3. Be more selective in choosing starting hands.
  4. Respect your opponent's raise.
  5. Consider betting or raising first, then folding, then calling.
  6. Try and make a game out of reading the other players hands.

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