Casino World Magazine


By John “Johnny Quads” Wenzel

When I started to take my poker to the next level many decades ago, I devoured every book (and magazine) I could get my hands on, and I made two pretty good decisions right off the bat.

First, I bought hardcover first editions whenever I could, signed by the author. I figured that since I was reading these books anyway, and would have them for life, I might as well acquire copies that would increase in value.

Second, whenever I read (or heard) something that contained that mysterious, unmistakable ring of truth, I wrote it down, so I would always have it. The human mind retains only a small percentage of what it reads, hears, and observes, so if you really want to remember something, you write it down. (Free tip: Keep a log book of all the players you compete against, listing tells, tendencies, how they have played hands, etc.)

No matter how many times I read them, these salient pearls of wisdom never fail to get me thinking deeply about poker, gambling, or life.

So, without further ado, here are a few of the quotations that have moved me over the years from my library, which now contains more than 400 volumes.

People think mastering the skill is the hard part, but they’re wrong. The trick to poker is mastering the luck.

  Jesse May in “Shut Up and Deal”

Vegas is a city based on numbers, math and discipline; a paradox to what it seems to be offering – chance, hope, ease and instant gratification.

  Sean Pole in “Booze, Broads and Blackjack”

As a professional gambler, I don’t care how much I win. I care how much I lose!

  Heard at the Mirage, 1992

It can be argued that man’s instinct to gamble is the only reason he is still not a monkey up in the trees.

  Mario Puzo in “Inside Las Vegas”

My wife made me join a Bridge club. I jump off next Tuesday.

  Rodney Dangerfield

People want to fall in love, gamblers want to be in action. Even if they know it will cause them pain. Even if they know they will lose it all.

  Johnny Quads (after a really bad breakup)

There is also the matter of individual personality – that indefinable inner quality of joyful acceptance of risk – which separates the winners from the losers.

  Nick the Greek

The producer was probably the better player of the two but that didn’t matter because he was an amateur and that doomed him from the first shuffle because like all amateurs, he couldn’t keep his mind off the stakes.

  Ron Abell in “Tap City”

That’s one of the great things about being a woman. We have that card to play.

  Halle Berry, talking about sexuality, 2004

He’s proud of the respect he’s earned. So he raises and everyone folds. But me I’m thinking to myself, ‘What the f— good is that?’ I mean the whole point is to get people to call when you got a good hand, not fold. And who wants to give action to someone who gives no action? Who in their right mind would gamble with someone who ain’t gambling themselves?

  Jesse May in “Shut Up and Deal”

At the poker table, you never believe what you hear, and only half of what you see.

  Poker player at Bellagio, 2001

I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.

  Jackie Mason

From the made men to the corporate tough guys – they’re all here. Things only appear to have changed. The corporate hard-asses have the same goal as the mobsters who preceded them: to make as much money as possible without regard to who gets destroyed in the process.

  John Smith in “Sharks in the Desert”

Rocks are tight with their money, but very free with their unsolicited advice.

  Bill “Bulldog” Sykes

While a fundamental understanding of sound poker principles may be sufficient in other games, it is not enough to succeed in a no-limit hold’em tournament. If you play by the book, your play will be predictable. No-limit tournament play requires guts and a killer instinct. You need a warrior’s mindset.”

  David Apostolico in “Tournament Poker and the Art of War”

I refuse to let someone keep taking my money… An aggressive player might do it for a while, keep leaning on me. But, at the first opportunity I get, I’m going to take a stand and put all my money in the pot… And if I find somebody I can keep betting at and he keeps saying ‘Take it, Doyle,’ ‘Take it, Doyle’ … then I’m going to keep pounding on him. I’m not going to let up.

  Doyle Brunson in “Super System”

Everyone, in life and poker, has good points and bad points. One of my good ones is that I don’t give a f— about money when I’m playing. That part of my brain is missing.

  Rick Bennett in “King of a Small World”

If you have two aces and I have two kings, and all the money goes into the pot, you feel great about your chances of winning. But 18 percent of the time you’re going to lose. Now that doesn’t sound like a lot. But you’re going to get dealt pocket aces 14 times on average, about once every 221 hands or once every five hours in the WSOP Main Event. So if this scenario happened to you 14 times, your chances of surviving all 14 confrontations are only about 3 percent. It’s the power of statistics.

  Phil Gordon

It’s a pity we couldn’t have fought the war out in a poker game.

  Rhett Butler in “Gone With the Wind”

I hope you’ll play right and wager well, unless you’re in my game, in which case I hope you’ll play like a dummy and throw away all your money to me.

  Johnny Chan in “Super System 2”

In the thick of the evening when the dealing got rough, she was too pat to open and too cool to bluff.

  From “Scarlet Begonias” by the Grateful Dead

Don’t gamble unless you can afford to lose, and if you can afford to lose, you don’t have to gamble.

  Poker proverb

If you put me in a game with players I’ve never seen before, I will quickly get an idea of what each person is made of. It’s like going to a movie, watching the characters, and knowing the good guy from the bad guy.

  John Juanda, 2004

(Photo by Neil Stoddart)

A knowledge of mathematical probabilities will not make you a good poker player, but a total disregard for them will make you a bad one.

  John McDonald in “Strategy in Poker, Business and War”

Poker is played by desperate men with desperate money… I don’t lose because I have nothing to lose. Including my life.

  Doc Holliday in “Gunfight at the OK Corral”

If you know how a man plays poker, you will know the man.

  Old poker saying

 If you know the man, you will know how he plays poker.

Get Your Subscription!
Receive Bonus Offers and More.
We respect your privacy.