Fishing for a Hot Hand

Summertime. The kids are out of school and those of us who still work for a living start taking time off to spend time with our families, getting away from it all for a few days. For many, that includes a trip to a lake or stream for a little fishing. I even made the trek to the local sporting goods store and purchase a fishing license myself last week.

If you’ve never been big bass fishing – particularly striped bass fishing – on a Texas lake you don’t know what you’re missing. I’ve seen boats pull in fifty or sixty fish an hour, sometimes having fish on four or five lines at a time. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I had a friend once who got pretty deep into bass fishing.  He had literally thousands of dollars tied up in tackle.  He invested in a $50,000 Ranger bass boat with a hot rod engine in it so he could be the first one out to the fish in the morning.  Then he bought a $65,000 King Ranch pick-up (with a $10,000 custom paint job to match the boat) to pull it with.  Then he decided that trucking the boat in was too much trouble so he bought a $400,000 lakefront home so he could walk out to the boat house, crank up the boat and be on the water within minutes of getting out of bed in the morning.  Fishing ultimately cost him his wife, his family, his career, and everything he owned.  But never once did anyone say “Old Rick has a fishing problem.”  But let the neighbors know you’re going to the casino twice a month and all of the sudden folks are saying you have a gambling problem.  Go figure.

Truth be known, gambling IS a lot like fishing – and craps is a lot like pro bass fishing.  That hot shooter we’re looking for is the Roland Martin of the game, and that monster hand is the sixteen-pound bucket-mouth we’ve all dreamed of. Can’t find a Roland Martin? What the heck. I’d settle for a Jimmy Houston any day.  And if you don’t know who those two guys are – you’re watching too much football on Sunday.

If you’re going to have a successful fishing trip at the tables you have to remember to pack the right gear. No, I’m not talking cold beer and sun screen. I’m talking about taking enough bait. Under-bankrolled players are at a disadvantage from the first toss. They try to stretch their stakes by “going light” on the odds bets. They bet at levels so small that they cannot incorporate a regression. Or worse, they try to score a quick win by relying on high-vig prop bets that have super-sized payoffs – if you can beat the odds and score on them. The truth is, if you want to catch a big fish – you probably need a big bait.

If you absolutely must “fish” with a limited amount of bait, then look for a smaller “pond” to fish in. There are $1, $2, $3, and $5 games around Vegas if you know where to look. A $1 table with 3, 4, 5X odds can be great fun – and provide you with ample opportunities to score a nice win on a hot hand. Just remember, on a short stake, conservative betting is the order of the day. You might catch the big fish – but for the most part, playing on a limited bankroll just makes a tough game tougher.

Want to catch your limit? Then pack the right gear. And be sure to bring enough bait.