THIS WEEK IN POKER:
* Winners vs. Losers
WINNERS VS. LOSERS
In traditional sports activities where accuracy can depend highly on
muscle memory players can adjust their moves to train their muscles to
come up with that winning shot. Clearly, however, in a poker game
is no muscle to memorize. You will be counting on your mathematical
memory (no pun intended) to come up with that winning hand. But be
forewarned, the right move will not always safeguard you from becoming unlucky.
On the other hand the wrong move can still bring forth a lucky draw for
you to take down the pot. This will get you to seriously question what
separates the winners from the losers.
Let's say you're holding a 9, 8 in your pocket hand and the flop is an
A, 10, 7. There's $10 in the pot and the bet is up $8. Without
hesitation, you ought to fold not only because you have a weak hand but also
the pot odds
are not in your favor.
For argument's sake, let's say you call anyway. Miraculously the turn
is a 6 and the river is a harmless 2. You take down the pot with your
straight but don't think for a second your starting call was a good call.
Winning on this lucky hand doesn't make you a winner. And you should
learn to take your focus away from the results whether in prize money,
awards, accolades, etc. that could condition you into making illogical
moves in the future. Realize that in the long run, moves like this will
lose you money.
In another example, let's take your same pocket hand matched with a
flop of J, 5, 7. There's $10 in the pot and somebody decides to go all-in
for $5. Everyone else folds but you decide to call again. The turn is a
J and the river is a 7. Your opponent shows an A,J and you're
screeching in your mind "So close! Sooo close..." while you painfully watch him
take down the pot. But do not to be discouraged, young grasshopper!
You'll be feeling the sting from that loss, but you had actually made
the right decision. You had only contributed 25% ($5 out of a $20) to
the total pot and you had also mathematically calculated a 1 in 3 chance
of hitting that straight. This time the pot odds
were in your favor and
to call was to have made a good move.
Sure, winning at the poker table is your ultimate goal but learn to
discern these words carefully. You do not want to be tunnel-visioned
towards looking for a winning result at every given hand. That will get you
cross-eyed. You want to "keep your eyes on the prize," which means to
look at the big picture or the long run and not at some fundamentalist
literal prize. The level you are capable of seeing each aspect of the
game including the "unknown" role of luck which make up that big picture
determines how effective you are as a player. Besides, luck often evens
out at the end anyway. And losers don't actually know how they won but
they sure know how to brag or pretend like they knew about it. Big wins
usually aren't determined by one sweeping hand. Many little moves and
their journeys toward a climactic position will eventually get you to
land that big take down. Don't just play to win. Win over each and every
play. And that will make you a winner in the long run.
P.S. About the Author-This is an letter I get weekly from Pokerletter.org to help improve my game
, use it how you see fit.