Educator, Editor and Author
In 2008 I retired from teaching and began my life of easy living. A career educator, I had spent the greater part of my life teaching English, and I looked forward to weekends free of grading tests, essays, and especially research projects. I vowed that I would never edit another paper! Life was sweet. I went to the gym; I played tennis; I read books; I visited with friends. For four years I was living the dream…and then Daniel called:
“I’m writing a novel, and I want you to edit it.”
“I thought we were friends,” I replied.
“We are! I’m sending you the first two chapters. Read them and get back to me.”
Dear God, what am I going to do? What if I don’t like the book? What if he’s a terrible writer? Why is he doing this to me? I’m a worrier. Always have been. If there’s nothing to worry about, I worry about that. I can’t help it. Fortunately for me, this time there was no need to worry. I fell in love with the story, and I wanted to read more. Then I remembered something: in high school, Daniel’s essays were often used by teachers as models for the rest of us. He has always had the gift, and I was being given the opportunity to nurture it. Many sections were rough, (and the punctuation in the first novel was a nightmare) but Daniel’s talent was obvious. I was hooked.
Developing good characters is the key to good literature, and Daniel has developed amazing characters. His growth from The Z Redemption to Corvette Nightfire is phenomenal. He is, without a doubt, my finest student. And, Thank God, he has paid attention to all my grammar lessons, lessening my work load by about eighty per cent on the second novel.
I have to admit that my biggest surprise came when he solicited ideas on how to make the novel better, and he actually used some of my suggestions!
I was honored when he asked me to take a more active role in Corvette Nightfire, and, despite some of our battles, it has been a wonderful adventure. I’m proud to be connected with it.
As for my bio, I am a career educator. I graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Mass Communications/English Education. I have taught at several schools, and I am proud to say that I spent my last thirty years at Ridgewood High School in New Port Richey, Florida. I coached tennis at Ridgewood for ten years, and I still love playing the game. I also enjoy playing Texas Hold’em, but, unlike Corvette, I play at the $1/$1 table.
I have been married to my beautiful wife, Carolyn, for thirty-one years, and we have an amazing son, Michael.
Robert Selfe Talks About Texas Hold’em
(Supplement to Corvette Nightfire)
I would like to begin by saying that I am not a professional poker player – never have been, never want to be. I’m not cut out for it. I enjoy playing the game, but only on a limited basis. I was a teacher for more than thirty years, and I worked hard for my money. I don’t mind risking $50 on an all-in bet, but I’m not willing to risk hundreds or thousands on a hand which might not hold up. It’s just not in my nature.
I play poker, on average, once a week for about four hours. On most days I play at a $1/$1 table, but occasionally I sit at a $1/$2 table. I have never sat at a $2/$5 table and probably never will. To be successful at a $2/$5 table, you should take a minimum of $300, which I don’t carry. I take my poker envelope with $100, and if I lose that, I go home. After every session, I document how much I won or lost, and I keep a running tally for the year. I’m strictly small time. Last year I won enough to cover the house’s take and tips I left for the dealers plus about $150. That’s not very impressive, but I had fun and didn’t lose money. That’s a win in my book.
Below are listed rules, lessons, suggestions, and a request. I may not be a professional, but I have learned a few things worth sharing. First, the rules:
Rule Number 1. If you can’t afford to lose what you brought to the table, don’t sit down at the table. You have no business there. Go home.
Rule Number 2. If you lose the money that you brought to the table, go home. Do not go to the ATM or borrow from a friend or sign a marker. Get the hell out. Go home.
Rule Number 3. If you are a moody jerk who’s a sore loser, don’t even bother to sit down at the table. Do everyone a favor and get the hell out. Go home and don’t come back.
Lessons to Help Survive Texas Hold’em:
Let’s start with a quote from Kenny Rogers: “You’ve got to know when to hold’em/ know when to fold’em.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Sometimes it is, but usually it’s a little more complicated. What process is involved when deciding whether to hold or fold? The simple answer is to hold if you think that you have the best chance of winning and to fold if you think you will be beaten. Notice that I didn’t say to hold if you think that you have the best hand. Having the best hand helps, but a lot of people have folded the best hand because they were afraid of losing. Gambling is about cards and probabilities, but it is also about people.
That brings us to the real key to winning at poker: the human element. My favorite quote from the movie Rounders is: “If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.”I love the quote, but I don’t agree with it. The people I play against are experienced players who are NOT suckers, although occasionally one does show up at the table. (He typically doesn’t last very long.) People have “tells” in movies and at the kitchen table, but seldom in a Poker Room. Admittedly, some people are so predictable that the entire table knows what they are going to do, but it is because of patterns of behavior, not a “tell” that someone picked up. Lots of people can quote the statistical probabilities of various hands, and for us amateurs, over a long period of time that usually pays off better than getting a “read” on someone.
Actually, the most important person you need to “read” is yourself. Are you predictable? If you are, then you ARE the sucker they are talking about. Learn to mix up your game. Bluff on occasion. Keep them off balance, but don’t be stupid.
Here are lessons I learned that may help you:
Lesson Number 1. If you have had success playing poker against your friends and think that that makes you a good player, you are mistaken. When you go to a Poker Room, you will be surrounded by like-minded people. Most of you will find out that you’re not as good as you think you are. I was amazed during my first six months playing poker at just how lucky my opponents were and how unlucky I had been. Lesson learned: It wasn’t the cards, it was my poor play.
Lesson Number 2. Watch out for people who bluff. It is really frustrating to fold your hand to a player who goes all in and then shows you that he was bluffing. You figure that next time he bluffs, you will take all of his money. Unfortunately, the next time he goes all in, he may actually have the cards, and, once again, you lose. Lesson learned: Just because he bluffed once doesn’t mean he always bluffs.
Lesson Number 3. (This is the toughest lesson.) Be prepared to fold a losing hand. If on the flop you have three of a kind and there are two cards to a flush or a straight, tread carefully. You have a decision to make. Do you bet big and try to take the pot, or do you delay and hope for a bigger payoff? What happens when the turn is the third card to a flush and someone bets big? These are tough decisions. If the river is the fourth card to a flush and two people go all in, lay down the hand. One might be bluffing, but two? Not likely. Some people can’t seem to learn to cut their losses and fold a losing hand. Lesson learned: Sometimes you have to realize you are beaten and lay down the hand.
NOTE: This is especially true when you are dealt pocket Aces. I’ve lost more money on pocket Aces than any other hand because it’s the hardest hand to lay down. (Ask anyone who plays.)
Some Personal Suggestions for Beginners:
Here are a few suggestions which help me but may or may not be appropriate for you:
Suggestion Number 1. Divide whatever money you’ve brought into two sessions. Example: If I’m going to play a $1/$1 table, I take $100 with me to the table. I buy $50 dollars in chips, and, if I need to later on, I buy another $50. The reason: In my early days of playing, I bought $100 in chips, was dealt pocket Kings, went all in, and lost it all on the first hand. I drove all that way and played one hand of poker. It was a long drive home and the last time I ever did that.
Suggestion Number 2. Unless you get exceptional cards, try not the play the first few hands. This gives you an opportunity to get a “feel” for the table: Is it aggressive or conservative? Is someone bullying the table?
Suggestion Number 3. If the player to your left leaves the table, take that spot. The reason: If the new player is an aggressive player, you want him on your right so that you will be following him when betting.
One Request: If you win a big pot, tip the dealer. You don’t have to, but it shows class.
About Texas Hold’em
So far, I have been discussing the game under the assumption that you know something about poker (Texas Hold’em in particular). But in case you don’t, here is a brief explanation of the game:
Texas Hold’em is a variation of poker in which each player is dealt two cards called “hole cards” face down. This is followed by five cards called “community cards” which are dealt face up on the table for all the players to use. Each player combines his two hole cards with any three of the community cards to produce the best possible five-card hand for himself.
In Texas Hold’em, the house provides a dealer for each table, and a marker (usually a plastic disc) called the “dealer button” is placed on the table in front of the player whose turn it would be to deal. After each hand, the dealer button is rotated to the next player on the left.
Instead of establishing an “ante” (a minimum bet placed by each player into the pot before the cards are dealt), only two players put money into the pot before seeing their cards. These two bets are called the “small blind” and the “big blind.” The small blind bet is posted by the player to the left of the dealer button. The small blind is usually half of the big blind, and that is posted by the next player to the left. The big blind is the minimum amount a player must bet in order to stay in the hand. In tournament play, the dollar amount of the blinds is periodically raised to encourage bigger pots. After the hole cards have been dealt, the “action” starts with the player to the left of the big blind. He has four options: fold, call (match the bet), raise the bet, or check (leave his bet unchanged and pass the option to the next player). This continues until all bets are finished.
Next, the dealer “burns” a card (i.e., he deals the top card of the deck face down, and this card is not used by the players) and then he deals and turns over three community cards which all players may combine with their hole cards. This set of three cards is called “the flop.” Now (and for the remainder of the hand) betting starts with the small blind and continues to the left around the table until all bets are finished. Again, a card is burned, and then the dealer reveals one more community card. This one is called “the turn,” and betting resumes as before around the table. Another card is burned, and then the dealer lays down the final community card which is called “the river.” When the subsequent round of betting is complete, players show their hands to see who has won. In case of a tie, players “split” or “chop” the pot.
Types of Texas Hold’em
There are two types of Texas Hold’em: Limit and No-Limit. In Limit Hold’em, there is a minimum and maximum bet that the players can make with each round of betting. Many Poker Rooms offer the Limit variety, but the vast majority of games are No-Limit.
Those of you who watch poker on television are more familiar with No-Limit Hold’em. This format is used at the World Series of Poker and is the format used in Corvette Nightfire. In No-Limit Hold’em, players can raise any amount at any time including all of their chips [called an “all-in” bet] at any time.
Table Designations for Texas Hold’em
As I mentioned earlier, in not-tournament play, tables have dollar designations. Example: At a $1/$2 (called a one-two) table, the big blind is $2, and the small blind is $1. As I mentioned earlier, the small blind is typically half of the big blind, but since the chips only have dollar designations, a $1/$1 (called a one-one) table raises the small blind from fifty cents to one dollar.
Ranking of Poker Hands from the Top Down:
Royal Flush: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten, all of the same suit.
Straight Flush: Any five cards in sequence, suited. (The Ace may be high or low.)
Four of a Kind: All four matching cards of any rank.
Full House: Three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another.
Flush: Five cards of the same suit but not in sequence.
Straight Five cards in sequence.
Three of a Kind: Three matching cards of one rank. (Also called “trips” or “a set.”)
Two Pair: Two matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another.
One Pair: Two matching cards of one rank.
High Card: Highest card starting with the Ace.