Does the President Have a Poker Tell?

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It’s well-known that President Obama is a poker player. But is he any good? All signs right now point to “no.” In poker, it’s crucially important that the other players not know what your hand is. If you have a tic or a habit that tips people off about what you might be holding, you’re much more likely to lose. This morning’s New York Times suggests that the Obama White House has just that problem:

“It’s so important to get a deal,” a White House official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to be candid about strategy. “He will do almost anything it takes to get one.”

Telling the New York Times that you are desperate to make a deal on health care is the political equivalent of telling your poker opponent that you have the hammer. The President is giving a prime-time speech on health care to a joint session of Congress next Wednesday. If you’re rooting for health care reform, you had better hope Obama’s slow-playing a monster hand, and not just on tilt.

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