If we are comparing 2016 Presidential candidates to poker players, one might say that Donald Trump closely resembles Phil Hellmuth, the brash, outspoken and self-important 14-time WSOP champion. So it was all too interesting to hear Hellmuth’s recent comments on the 69-year-old billionaire.
Speaking with TheStreet, Hellmuth said that “Trump is the ultimate ‘loose-aggressive’ player.”
As you may know, a loose-aggressive player, or “LAG,” plays lots of hands and bets/raises quite frequently. A good LAG is able to force more-passive players into folds, even when they might otherwise have a better hand. Furthermore, skilled LAGs can control the table with this bullying style.
This seems like a very accurate analogy of Trump, who jumps into lots of issues (playing lots of hands) with controversial views (betting/raising the pot). And even when he’s attacked, such as by the Pope or Jeb Bush, he’s always willing to stand his ground and strike back.
So if the Presidential race were a poker table, how would Hellmuth deal with this political LAG?
“When you’re playing against a loose-aggressive player, think of a harpoon. You nail them with a harpoon, on one big pot for all their chips,” said Hellmuth. “They’re a big target, and Trump is a big target.”
“He’s playing many weak hands, so you’d expect him to get harpooned a lot,” explained Hellmuth. “The problem is you’ve harpooned Trump five times and he’s so smart, he’s so resilient, he has so much style, he’s changed the rules of poker.”
Hellmuth pays attention to politics, but he doesn’t really back one candidate 100%. However, he did mention that he likes how Florida Sen. Marco Rubio recently changed gears and went on the attack against Trump – knowing that there’s little time to grab the Republican nomination.
“Rubio made a smart move. He finally took it to the next level,” Hellmuth said. “He assumed he was just going to win with patience and when you’re waiting for someone else to implode and they don’t implode, all of the sudden you’re way behind in the chips and Super Tuesday is coming up and you can’t wait anymore. Rubio can’t wait. Rubio changed tactics, finally aggressively attacked Trump — and he looked pretty good doing it.”
Is there time for Rubio or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz – the remaining two Republican candidates who can realistically beat Trump – to make their moves and get back in the political poker game? Sure, but they’re going to have to play the aggressive game that Trump is playing.