Poker Lessons from the Fishermen on Deadliest Catch

Discovery Channel’s series Deadliest Catch follows the Crab Fishermen of the Bering Sea, documenting the captains and crew of eight crab-fishing boats as they battle against the treacherous weather conditions doing one of the deadliest and potentially most lucrative jobs in the world. Facing dangerous seas, a constant danger of being swept overboard and a 99% injury rate from working long hours in dangerous conditions the crab fisherman trawl the seas near Alaska for the highly prized King Crab & Opilio Crab.

For the crew the potential rewards are high with the top boats bringing in catches into the millions and big pay days for the deck hands and crews who can earn more than a years salary in a season of fishing.

So what has this got to do with online poker ?

While playing online poker has little risk of injury or freezing to death in subzero seas … there are a lot of wisedom and lessons poker players could take from the captains and deckhands on deadliest catch.

Classic Quotes from the captains of Deadliest Catch

Keith of the Wizard: “It only takes one bad wave to ruin your day.”

For poker players one the most important things is to avoid going on tilt. Remember those costly mistakes where a losing a single big pot can wipe out all the gains of a steady winning session in one miss-played hand.

Johnathan Hillstrand of the Time Bandit: “We’d rather be lucky than good any day…”

Sometimes it might feel that other players “get lucky” more than you but luck is something you create by avoiding those hands where you dont just need a bit of luck … you need a miracle. By sticking to solid hands but opening up when you spot weakness and opportunity, your not getting lucky but making the most of others bad luck … and that’s really about playing good imaginative poker.

Blake of the Maverick: “Oh … I just got crapped on — even the birds don’t respect me.” (After being denied the captain’s chair and then having a bird poop on him.)

Getting respected at the poker table is crucial if you want to play effective semi bluffs and steals. If the table doesn’t respect you then expect to get crapped on and called by the good players and the idiot calling stations in equal measure.

Eric of the Rollo: “It’s still man against Mother Nature out there, so you can’t get too over-cocky. You gotta know just how smart you are.”

Playing every hand like your on the final table of the WSOP might make you think your a misunderstood poker genius but its generally a route to poverty. The reality is your probably getting too confident of your abilities or playing out of your comfort zone or higher than your bankroll allows … better to be profitable against the small fish than lose it all swimming with sharks.

Rick of the Maverick: “I just hope I can get back to dock without turning this sucker into a giant popsicle.” (On facing a gale storm and retreating to Saint Paul Island.)

Knowing when to quit on a winning session and bank your profit is the mark of a good player. Being able to play through a cold streak until the cards come back to you without throwing money away on marginal hands and pots is important … Above all else you must keep your poker boat afloat.

Sig of the Northwestern: “Some guys — it’s worse. They take their personal lives up here with them and they sit here and dwell on things. You can’t do your job when you’re still at home in your mind.”

Never never never play poker if you haven’t get a clear head and a total focus on the poker game. Fishermen risk going overboard through lack of concentration … Poker players risk going broke.

“Leave your pots to soak”

Experienced crab fishermen know that getting a big haul is all about waiting to give those crab pots long enough to soak – Poker players should appreciate they too are playing a long game, waiting for the right hands and the right players to come along.

“Put back the small crab … to conserve the stock”

Interestingly due to over fishing the crab fishermen are now compelled to “put back” fish and crabs that are too small leaving them to grow, conserving the fish and crab stock until they mature into big juicy crab – Poker players can learn from this, sometimes its better to let a small pot go, letting players think they got away, only to wait for them to swim into a much bigger pot giving you a much juicier catch over a session at the tables.

In the same way its always worth maintaining friendly chat, if a fish takes you money on a pot getting lucky and you bad mouth him … what are the chances of them staying to donate all their cash into your net ? Better to throw them the odd small pot back and congratulate them on their “skill”.

“Once your on the crab, stay on the crab”

Crab fishermen are either “on the crab” or pulling up poor pots, once they are on the crab they will fish that area having found the richest pickings of crab – Poker players should hunt for poker fish in the same way and once you’ve found good juicy tables with weak fish in abundance make the most of the fishing. If the catch isn’t good, the pots are coming up short, then move on to richer fishing grounds.

One of the most interesting things about Deadliest Catch is the difference in approaches of the new inexperienced deck hands on the crab boats. Known as greenhorns many think they know it all only to find out they have got a lot to learn.

Those that are prepared to recognise this and learn from the Captain and the hardened deckhands go on to enjoy a full share in the boats profits. Poker is exactly the same, you can save alot of money, time and mistakes by learning and listening to more experienced players.

One of the most interesting quotes (I cant remember which captain said it) about the risk and rewards of crab fishing was …

“Survive the season, not the trip”

This is great advice for the poker player … poker is always about the long game, staying afloat and turning a consistent profit rather than getting lucky and then going bust.

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