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Fancy play Syndrome

Posted by David Cowell on February 11, 2011 at 2:57 GMT

The poker theorist, Mike Caro, first developed the concept of “Fancy Play Syndrome” a decade ago when he was writing articles for Poker Player magazine. It is an “illness” which you will find in many low to mid-limit table cash games and poker tournaments and which affects poker players who know a little poker strategy – but not as much as they think they do.

The “Fancy Play” element of the title comes from the players being too tricky for their own good in their betting actions – checking with strong hands in attempt to disguise their strength, or betting on hands which should be checked or even folded. Here are a couple of examples of such play.

You are on the button and are dealt AA. Two players in front of you limp into the pot, and in trying to disguise the strength of your hand, you limp in with them. What you have done is allowed the small blind to enter the hand for half a BB, and the player on Big Blind gets to see the flop for free. You now have five players in the hand, rather than two or three, and created a scenario where your aces are more likely to get cracked.

In the second example, you are in late position with AK and there are two limpers in front of you. You raise in order to take out the blinds and the two limpers call your bet. The flop gives you nothing, and the betting is checked through to you. Instead of checking and taking advantage of the free card, you bet again – hoping that your two limpers fold. If either of these caught on the flop you are making the game too expensive when you lose a hand.

If you feel that you have slipped into the confusing (to yourself) world of “Fancy Play Syndrome”, it is not too difficult to get out of. Bet on good hands, fold bad ones and take a free card if you need one. Also, keep an eye out for other players who have unusual betting tendencies. It may be possible that they have developed this syndrome, and if they are going to leak chips on fancy plays – they might as well leak them in your direction!