January 13, 2009

Hooray

luck betrays poker"Luck is the residue of design."
-- Branch Rickey

The harder we work, the luckier we get.

Outside poker, good luck is often the result of deliberate planning and hard work. It works this way in poker too, to a large degree. But, luck in poker is somehow also different.

We all appreciate luck in poker, and wish we could bottle it and save it for future days, but in many ways luck is the enemy of a good poker player. First let's look at luck from the perspective of the bad player. At least half the time when a bad player wins a pot, he will have gotten lucky to do it. The bad player comes from behind, sucks out when not getting pot odds, makes miracle perfect-perfect catches, spears a kicker on the river card, fills up bottom two pair against an opponent with top two pair. The bad player has a million ways to get lucky. And, like Branch Rickey said, this is by design. Bad players try to get lucky. So, it's no surprise that bad players are generally luckier than good players.

On the other hand, good players are playing with the best of it. Sure, they still get "lucky" sometimes, like making a flush draw on the river card, but they will have been getting pot odds on that draw and will have built the pot correctly too. Good players habitually do the mathematically correct action in any given situation. It's not "lucky" for AA to beat J9. The good player actually tries to avoid being lucky, except to the extent that it would be lucky if the flop came AJ9.

One way that I often get accused of being "lucky" is when an opponent says: "You are so lucky I threw away my hand." Well, duh, that's why I raised, to get you out. My luck here was again the residue of design. This is the sort of luck that good players manufacture all the time. But it's not at all the same kind of luck that happens to the bad player. The bad poker player makes his own luck happen to him; the good player often makes other players give him good luck.

2 comments:

yvesmfarges said...

==> You are so, so right! My poker motto has always been: "The lucky player is usually the player that knows how much to leave to chance." Luck is part of the game - tis true - and the Poker Goddess is a harsh boss when you need a card (or worse ... cards!) to make a hand. That said, when you *know* your opponent will fold for a bet over 25% of his stack, forcing him off a good hand becomes less a question of 'luck' and more a question of being observant.

Yves aka 'flintsword'
www.myspace.com/flintsword

The Muse said...

i really like that quote!
drop over and see me...

the stakes aren't that high! LOL

by the way, i won my first poker game (i was playing my husband !) lol