Bluffer Vs. Skeptic
I found this story and the article i posted right before this one on the internet, and had to share!
I took my brother to one of the underground poker clubs in New York a few months ago and threw him into a small tournament against some tough players. It was our first time playing together against good competition, so I was eager to show him (show off) how good a player I had become. That was my idea, anyway. But the law of averages had a different vision for that afternoon. I was the third player unceremoniously knocked out of the tournament. This embarrassment took place while my brother — completely unfamiliar with the tournament rules — went on to take third place.
As he continued winning through the afternoon, I kept mumbling to myself that he was getting lucky. Then came this one hand where he called an excellent player's all-in bet with a measly pair of 6s and won. It was a monster call. After the tourney I told him how impressive I thought that was. All he said was, "Come on, it was so obvious that that guy was bluffing." Is it possible that I had misjudged my brother? Perhaps he had some superhuman ability to read people.
A few months later I showed him an Internet poker site
where people buy in on their credit cards and play against each other in a virtual card room. We bought in for a couple of hundred dollars and played a little $20-$40 Hold 'em. During one hand some guy raised on his pocket cards before the flop, and we called. He continued to bet and raise every chance he had. After the river card was dealt, my brother and I ended up with a very mediocre hand. So I suggested that we fold. But my brother wasn't having any. He said that he wanted to call the final bet because he thought that guy was bluffing. Now, tell me that my brother can sit across from a guy and get a read on his hand from body language, and I'll say okay, I'll believe that. But say that he can look at a computer screen and, by observing a cartoon drawing, decide that some man in Bulgaria is bluffing by the way he clicked his mouse, I'll be a little more skeptical. As is usually the case with older brothers, nevertheless his point of view prevailed, and we called the bet. The guy showed pocket kings, and we lost another $40. That's when it hit me: my brother is a fine poker player
, but more importantly, he's a natural-born skeptic
— a quintessential doubter
. Perhaps it has something to do with our childhood, I don't know. But that's just the way he is.
As profitable a card player as my brother can sometimes be, skeptics usually get killed in the long run
. My poker-playing professor at Wesleyan ran computer simulations of Hold 'em hands for almost two months straight. After assigning different poker personalities to a table of seven players, he let the computer play 50,000 hands. The results showed that in only 11 percent of the games did any player fold the winning hand — in other words, a bluff was successful in only about one in ten attempts. Therefore, logic dictates that the skeptic is wasting his money 90 percent of the time
. Further statistical analysis showed that consistent calling was even less profitable than that because other players at the table may call as well and have better cards than the skeptic. Therefore, even though a skeptic may catch a bluffer, he can still lose the hand.
Concluding that somebody like my brother is at your table should change the way you approach the game. All those sexy techniques like double bluffs and slow playing that great card players use are going to be ineffective against him. When a player like my brother is in a hand, you must realize that most of the time he's going to call your very last bet just to make sure you have what you claim you do. This turns the game into a showdown competition. Very few hands are going to be won by trying to scare a skeptic off. In the end you're going to have to have the best cards to take the pot.
The easiest way to improve your chances of beating a skeptic is to limit the number of hands you participate in. Only call the first bet if you have premium cards. Poker games
are usually decided right after the initial cards are dealt, way before the flop, or draw. If you have the best hand going in, then you have the best chance of winning in the end.