Friday, November 6, 2009

Week in Review, Bad Beat Weekend, Let's talk...

It was weekend of solid poker that got waylaid by river rats and bad beats. I’ll have to review the exact nature of this hand, but I was all in with K K vs A 10 and A 8 .. feeling good. Flop x Q Q. … Turn Queen. All I need to dodge is the 2 remaining Aces. River a 4th Q! I lost with King kicker to their A kickers ! Out of tourney. It should have been an easy triple up :(

How many times have I given the advice to avoid coin flips and all ins unless you have to? How many times have I run deep in tournaments by following my own advice? Quite a few! And yet, that is one of my leaks right now. When playing a wide variety of tournament sizes, Sit & Goes, cash games, you can forget you need to be able to change gears at any table at any time. Do I need to put post-it notes near my PC to remember? Do need to stick them to my forehead when I play live??? I will , if that is what it takes!

I have decided to start adding Poker Terms regularly to my blog, because of the length of time it took me to find out certain terms while reading books, magazines, etc…

Today’s Terms are about position. We all know the Big Blind (BB), the Small Blind (SB), and the Button. But the last player to go before the button is called the Cut-Off, and the person before that is the Hijack. I played a lot of poker, and read a lot of books before I finally realized exactly where those positions were. The term doesn’t really matter, it doesn’t affect your game. It’s just easier to understand when writing or reading about it to use these terms to describe a situation.

Which brings me to Poker Math. There is a lot of math to know, if you so wish. What you see on TV all the time is the hand percentages relative to each other in that hand. You can learn the math for Pot Odds, which is the odds you are getting if you win relative to the money you need to put in the pot to call. You can learn Implied Odds, which is what the odds WILL BE at the end of the round if bet and X people call/raise, etc… and takes a little bit of calculation/guesswork! You can read the future, right? Then there is reverse implied pot odds… etc…. I’ll stop here for a reason.
For some players, having all that information, will help you with your balance sheet on your decisions on whether to call or not. The more mathematical, OCD, anal retentive, scientific, etc… the more likely this info will help you. You’ll start sounding like some of the pros “well I’m getting 2.5 to 1 if I call…” etc. You can learn the exact percentages, down to 54.4545 percent.
HOWEVER, the less mathematical you are, the more likely all this info will just get in the way of making a sound decision. Depends. Everyone advocates learning it, memorizing it to the best of your ability if you are going to play poker for a living. Goes with the territory.

But, you CAN play very successfully without the exact odds. Learn what you can, but don’t let it bog you down. There are only 52 cards in a deck. 4 suits. 13 of each suit. If you have an inside straight draw, there are only 4 cards that can complete your straight draw. If you have an open ender (can complete on the top or bottom of your straight) then you have 8 cards to complete your straight (4 high and 4 low). If you have a flush draw (4 cards of same suit) there are 9 more cards of that suit, so you have 9 outs. If you have 2 pair and a flush draw, you have the 9 plus 2 plus 2 , for 13 outs. This is a much easier way for most people to deal with the above math. Don't forget to subtract cards that won't help you or will hurt your hand. There is no feeling like praying for a 9 to complete your straight, getting it, but it's the 9 of Hearts, and it completes your opponents Flush.

Let’s take it one step further than most books point out. If you need a high card (10 through Ace) and 8 people called to play this pot, odds are the majority of them have high cards. There will always be exceptions, but in general a lot of people in a hand means more high cards are taken. If you need a low card and there are 8 people in the pot, the odds are increased that your low card is not taken. The majority of those staying in have high cards most of the time, right? The reverse is also true… if you need a low card, and 8 people folded pre flop, your odds are increased that your card was FOLDED. This is a MINOR point, but is part of the “advanced” class of probability. It’s like knowing the difference between a 54% vs 46% and 56% vs 44%. Minor but still a factor.
Math is a science. Anyone can learn it. Poker has a lot of variables involved, and there is a lot to know, so someone may have a very slight edge by knowing all the math. Keep that in mind. The more you play, the more the math averages out in the long run. But you need to be able to deal with the lovely thing called VARIANCE. That’s how much things can lean left or right before they balance out in the middle over time. Those long leans in 1 direction can make you superstitious!
Reading people, is a people skill. It’s an ART. This is what keeps the math geeks from ruling the roost in Poker. Arts are not like science. They are not exact. You can be wrong! But if you are right more often than you are wrong, and you use this skill wisely, you can tell when to hold’em and when to fold’em as the old song goes. More on this later.
I’m watching Darvin Moon have a great day on his way to the Final table in the 2009 WSOP, and noticing a few things. He’s been running lucky. He knows it, he’s said it, etc…. He flops a flush, King high. That means there is still an ace out there. His opponent flopped a flush too. He slow plays it, calls and doesn’t raise til the river. The board pairs. Now there is a chance for higher flush draw, and a boat (full house), which will beat his king high flush. We’ve all had it happen before right? That’s poker folks! I hear Brunsons voice everytime. I think there was a couple more hands where he slow played a good hand, but one that could have been beat. How many times you slow play your set of aces, only to lose to a straight or flush? Make sure you got a good read when you do this, because it could cost you!

That’s enough for this evening. Until next time folks.
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