Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bug's Poker Tip #21

"You can't control the cards you're dealt, just how you play the hand."
-Dr. Randy Pausch, from The Last Lecture

We all get coolered regularly at poker. This is the nature of the game. Having our Kings run into Aces is painful, but it's also irrelevant in the long run. Embrace this notion. Why? Because every time we get dealt Kings and someone else at the table has Aces and all the money goes in preflop and we lose our stack, the opposite will occur sometime in the future, with our Aces coolering their Kings preflop, and we'll win back that same amount we lost. If you play long enough, you'll get dealt the same frequency of good and bad hands as everyone else at the table. But this begs an obvious question: If we all get dealt the same hands over time as the next guy, how can we make money at this silly game? Answer: Minimax. Poker is about minimizing your losses when you're behind, and maximizing your profits when you're ahead. Just because two people are dealt the same hand at different tables, doesn't mean they're going to play them the same way. And therein lies the secret. REDi can be thought of as being in two distinct parts: RE + Di.  The Reads and Estimating steps are about gathering information and processing it. The Deciding and Implementing steps are about minimizing losses and maximizing profit. Di is about Deciding what we want to do with the hand, and then Implementing that decision in a way that makes us the most money when we win, and costs us the least amount when our hand is no good. Techniques like folding when in doubt, betting small when Bluffing, and controlling the size of the pot on SDV lines are part and parcel to minimizing losses. Value betting all streets, bluff catching rivers, and bet-folding are some of the keys to maximizing profit. You can't control when you get dealt Aces or Kings, but you can control what you do with those hands. Stop, think, and minimax.

All-in for now...
-Bug

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