Dealing with “Donald Trump” at the Poker Table

Some of you may be groaning at giving Donald Trump more unnecessary exposure, but he’s used more as a euphemism for “insane maniac” at the poker table. There’s still really good poker lesson in it so bear with me.

How would you beat a personality like Donald Trump at the poker table?

I recently read an interesting story on a website that covers mostly financial issues.The author wanted to discuss how to stop Donald Trump. He thought it would be interesting if he home approached it from poker angle so he sought out Phil Hellmuth and asked him how he would defeat Donald Trump at the poker table.

Trump would be easily defined as a LAG

Hellmuth explained that his approach would be the same approach that he would take when he’s playing against a loose aggressive player at a poker table, often referred to as a LAG.

This is a type of player that I hate to play against. A lot of players seem to feel the same way. I’ve heard a lot of feedback from other players that they simply want to get up and leave.

I’m moving to Canada (another table)

That’s largely in the same vein as the “I’m moving to Canada” crowd.

The problem is that you can’t always do that, as other American politicians can’t. If you don’t like the loose aggressive player and you don’t like Donald Trump you can’t just pick up and go run for Prime Minister of Canada. You’re forced to confront him.

Lay a trap with big raises

Hellmuth’s first piece of was to “harpoon”. What he means by harpooning is sit back, be patient, wait for your big hand, and then punish him. He’s going to be playing lots of pots and he’s going to be very active so that’s how he’s going to accumulate his chips. Just wait for him to make a mistake when you have the goods.

He’s saying that because he knows this guy is going to three-bet your raise you know it’s going to happen and so you can flop in.

Be even more active behind the loose aggressive player


Hellmuth’s other advice was you have to be – I don’t know if you’d say crazy – but if somebody is being really active you have to be even more active. You have to put a play on him even if you don’t have the goods. You know if he’s three-betting all the time then you need to be four-betting with something and then push him back a little bit.

If you’re in a tournament you’re going to face this type of player sometime and you’re going to have to learn to deal with them as you can’t just leave a tournament table. Generally in online poker you’re not with that player for very long because of there are fast-moving blinds and low chip stacks.

Dealing with Trump-like players away from the poker tables

I think you can apply this strategy to other aspects in your life like dealing with your boss. I think that’s why I’m rather interested in Donald Trump.

And apply to real life you know and you’re right it’s not just about you know defeating Donald Trump or beating a kid with an anger complex at the tables. You could use that lesson for anybody that’s kind of boisterous or repressive in your life.

One specific examples is to look at what Marco Rubio tried to do in the primaries. Rubio tried going on the offensive a little bit. The problem with what Rubio did, and a lot of poker players did, is he waited too long and and at the end of the day he was still talking about Trump.

Don’t let the other player change the rules

Donald Trump changed the rules and we’ve let him do that. That’s kind of the same problem players can have against loose and aggressive players. If you let a player change the rules and you’re playing the way he plays, now you’ve got to either play the way he plays and do it better or you’re going to suffer the consequences.

If you’re not a Trump backer now you’re suffering the consequences the same way plenty of other players have left the tables shaking their heads and empty chip racks at the maniacs.