- Dec 30, 2005
- Total posts
Copy and pasted off P5's. Everyone needs to read it, a lot of people whine poker is rigged and how they never win a coinflip. There have been a lot of posts 'should i call all in with *inseat HUGE preflop/overall hand*." The player then loses and gets results orientated and say they should have folded, this should help and is a nice read.
No Need to Fear; Underdog is Here! by grapsfan on 3/9/2007 03:52
You are at the final two tables of a big online tournament, the best result you’ve had in the months of a long drought. The blinds are 4000/8000 with an 800 ante, and you have 240,000 in your above-average stack. You are in the big blind with AQ. The action folds around to the button, who goes all-in with 100,000 chips. You’re pretty sure he’s stealing with a fairly weak hand, and you decide to call. Your opponent shows K5. A King spikes on the river, doubling your opponent up and taking a big bite out of your stack. Your dreams of being one of the chip leaders have been dashed, replaced with the realization that your M is now 10 and the next blind level is fast approaching. The railbirds all console you with cries of “bad beat,” “rigged,” and “brutal.” But is it?
Let’s look at how bad this really was. Your AQ offsuit was a 60% favorite. If you run this scenario five times, you will each win twice. Your only expectation is to win the fifth trial. This time, the underdog came through, making this one of the 2-out-of-5 trials. This was by no means a done deal, and yet, it’s easy to hang your head over the outcome. Yes, you had the best hand before the flop. Hold’Em is a game where you see seven cards, which means that your initial lead in the hand can easily be rendered obsolete.
Most of the hands that are pre-flop favorites aren’t as big as you’d think. Pretty much any “cards straddling” situation like our previous example is 3:2. Two overcards against two undercards are 2:1. If you run three trials, you each win one, and the only expectation is the favorite winning the third. A pair vs. straddling cards (e.g. 99 v. Q3) is 2.3:1. A dominating hand, such as AK v. A3, is a little bit less than 3:1…only 13% better than our AQ v. K5 example. In the long-run, 13% is enormous. In the context of one key hand, it’s almost meaningless.
Bad beats the cruelest aspect of the game, so nasty they chose to make a Full Tilt commercial out of it. You can make the right decision, do the exact right thing at the right time, and still lose. Losing with better hole cards happens to every single person who plays the game, from the top of the PocketFives Leaderboard to the SNG hobbyist to the play-money grandmothers. In large part, how we cope dictates whether we’re destined to remain in the play-money, hobbyist, or Leaderboard categories. To go way back into the archives, we’ll call these categories Low, Middle and High.
The Low player plays a lot of underdog hands, because “they seem to hit a lot” or “they were suited” or “J6 is my lucky hand”. It’s exciting for them to gamble against the odds and hit, the same way it’s exciting to put money on a junction at a roulette table and have one of those four numbers come up. In the long-run, however, they’ve got as much of a chance as Simon Barsinister had against Underdog himself.
Middle players have the most trouble wrapping their heads around the “your favorite wasn’t really that good” concept. They (or should I say “we”, because I firmly classify myself in this group) complain about 3:2 favorites, coin flips, any time a leading hand didn’t hold. The King spiking on the river remains in their vision when they close their eyes to sleep at night. The truly obsessed compile lists of AA getting cracked, or the number of coin flips lost in a row, in an attempt to prove that the poker sites are rigged or that the shuffling algorithms are flawed. What should be simple decisions are clouded by bad memories. Clear thought processes and table reads are pierced by a bad-beat bolt of lightning. 3:2 favorites are mortal locks in their minds, and when that reality is shattered, so is their game.
The High players not only accept the reality of how big of a favorite or underdog a hand is, they embrace it. They can comfortably push with a hand not likely to be ahead. Resteals are executed without fear. If they’re a 3:2 underdog, but have some fold equity, a push is the correct play to make. If they’re a 2:1 or 3:1 underdog, fold equity plus a substantial ICM benefit may still make the push a correct play. Hyper-aggressiveness without fear is the method behind the madness of players like Ted Forrest, Alan Goehring and many of the top online MTT specialists. When the luck swings their way, a player like BeL0WaB0Ve or Annette_15 builds a massive chip stack while leaving confused opponents in their wake. The rail screams “what a donkey!” Poker discussion forums scream “what a luckbox!” The High player doesn’t scream. Silence is part of being one with the underdog universe.
Controlled insanity is not for the faint-of-heart. Many people don’t have the temperament to gamble with the worst of it, even if logic, mathematics, and game theory state that it is the correct thing to do. I encourage everyone to try playing in a style that you might consider reckless from time to time, especially at the middle to end stages of tournaments. See how controlled recklessness fits your game and your personality. Maybe you’ll stumble across a side of yourself you never knew existed and take that less traveled path to poker greatness. Or maybe your palms will sweat and you end up a nervous wreck for a day or two.
If the hyper-aggressive style doesn’t work for you, then it doesn’t work. And that’s OK. If this approach isn’t for you, maybe you’ll obsess less over those who take that path. There are enough obstacles and truly bad beats that block us from being the best poker results possible. Cluttering your mind with the other losses and the players who inflict them can only hurt your pocketbook.