September 08, 2008

Learning in poker

Once at the poker table, you face a lot of choices and have a lot of decisions to make. Believe it or not, my motto of life seems to apply here: live and learn. For your record, selective thinking and learning can help you avoid being sniffed at as a bystander or a follower.

Texas hold'em case study: hole cards are 6s, Ts; flops are 2h, 9s, Jc.

No doubt it's a good start. It leaves us with a great space for imagination (though based on calculation). Listed below are the possibilities (from the best hand to the worst):

1 - Straight flush. You pick up 7s, 8s in the turn and river, Bang!
2 - Flush. Two more spades will suffice.
3 - Straight. From K-straight to J-straight. 7, 8, 9, T, J, Q, K of rainbow, we need the last two cards to be blessed.
4 - Sets, two pairs, one pair, high cards. There is no math involved.

The above is utterly obvious. I can imagine you would use your online poker calculator to figure out the pot odds of catching such hands. Then you are not seeing the whole picture. Remember: diamonds cut diamonds. After you find out at what odds you can form your desired hand and how many poker chips you could throw in the pot accordingly, don't forget to glimpse over to see your opponents' moves. You have your odds and they have theirs. If you don't count them in, then it's a natural thing that a black horse comes out from nowhere, with a poker hand just better than yours. And you can't afford that happens. Of course, if everyone is playing according to the book, you would estimate out what hands they have by calculating on their bet, on the condition you are the last one to call. Since you can't control the game, you must take everything into consideration.

I am always quick to summarize. Skill-wise speaking, I am focusing on POP (pot, odds, and position) here. Maybe I'm not that good at picking up the right words, but my idea is basically there. Now, put out a deck of cards, play your case while thinking a little bit, and you can be a self-made mentor quite soon.

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