Are you really superstitious?
I’m very superstitious. I really am. I have a whole wardrobe of shirts I will never wear because they’ve brought me bad luck. You’ll all laugh at me, but if I have a good session, whatever I have in my pocket, I’ll leave in my pocket for the next session. In order to be a gambler, you have to be superstitious, because gambling relies on luck.
So how would you describe your playing style?
Dangerous! A lot of people play aggressively, but that doesn’t mean they’re good. Like Kenny Rogers said in that song, “You gotta know when to fold ’em.” I play very aggressively, but I know what my opponent is holding. I know what I’m going against and my opponent can never put me on a hand. That’s the secret of my success.
Lyle Berman always says to me, “Sammy, I never know where you’re at. You play cards that no-one else would play.” My philosophy is that I make my hands; I don’t wait for them.
How do you know what an opponent is holding? Give an example…
I know by the way they bet. For example, if they make a raise before the flop and then miss the flop, they get scared by my aggression and they usually end up playing the hand badly. They give out tells by the way they bet – either too small or too big.
What’s the greatest bluff you’ve ever made?
I remember one about six years ago. I was in a game and a good friend of mine had a percentage of my action. We had a flight to catch and were doing pretty well in the game, so my friend went to get some burgers before we left. I got involved in a hand with 7-2 offsuit. My opponent had raised, I had reraised and he had called. The flop came down and I had nothing. I bet, my opponent raised, and I went all-in. At this point, my friend came back and started
choking when he saw my hand. I had to kick him so he didn’t give the game away. My opponent eventually folded his top pair. If he had called we would have lost our whole bankroll.
Another time, I was playing limit poker – Hi/Lo Split Omaha. I had a terrible hand; I can’t remember what it was, it was nothing. There were still five players in the hand, and when the last card came down, I missed. I was first to act and I bet. They all laid down their hands. We’re talking about a limit game. It’s so hard to bluff in a limit game that I just said to myself, “I’m going to bluff you all.” I think there was about $40,000 in the pot.
Wow! Don’t try this at home kids, the man’s a professional…
You see, most players like to have the button when they bluff. I like bluffing, but I like to be the first one to act. When you act first, the second guy is going to be worried about the guy behind him, even if he suspects he has you beat, so he’s gonna lay it down.
You like to play with your opponents’ heads. Tell us how…
I was playing Pot Limit Omaha at the Golden Nugget recently. So, of course, I’m playing aggressively – I raise the pot, and this guy reraises. I put him right away on aces, but decide to call. The flop comes 2- 5-9 with two clubs. I have nothing. I check and the other guy checks. Normally if you have two aces with an ace high flush draw, you need to bet (it’s my favorite tell again). He didn’t bet, so I know he’s not drawing for a flush. Fourth street brings another club and I bet. He raises. Now, while I know he has no flush, he still has me beat and I’m thinking to myself, “How can I take this pot away from him?” So I said, “Joe, I just can’t believe it! I flop the set, give you a free card and you make a flush!” And I’m taking my time – maybe five minutes – talking to him all the time.
My problem was that I didn’t have enough money left to force him to lay his hand down. I had about $4,000 and nobody would fold their hand in this situation for $4,000, since there was already about $16,000 in the pot. After five minutes of complaining that he’d outdrawn my ‘set’, I said, “Well, I have to play this all the way. I have a set, but I have to raise because I’m committed now.”
I go all-in and he lays his hand down. He says, “Sammy, you got it.” I look around the table and I say, “Guys, I want to show you why I’m the best Omaha player in the whole world.” I show my hand. No pair, no draw, nothing. Just a funny looking hand…
Genius! Did we hear you’re writing your memoirs?
We want to hear more stories like this…
I’m supposed to be writing a book on my life, but I haven’t done it yet. I’m too busy, or lazy…but hopefully, I’ll finish it soon.
They’ve rebuilt the famous Casino in Lebanon. Have you been?
I’ve been a couple of times. It’s a beautiful building and location – right by the beach. But as far as the games go – they don’t spread poker, and the house edge is too high, so I don’t like it. Speaking as a professional gambler, it’s hard to win anything over there.
How do you spend your time when you’re not being a professional gambler?
I only play poker about four or five months of the year. The rest of the time I travel a lot, I relax, enjoy fine food, a nice drink, spend time with my girlfriend. I’m happiest when I’m traveling. You have to get away from gambling. I gamble too much. When you get away from it you feel like a completely different person.
You can get your hands on Sam Farha merchandise and find out more about the man himself at www.samfarha.net
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