You know something I never need to hear again (re: poker)?

The books I’ve read say never slow play AA.

No luck in a game of chance?

But maybe not correctly for the people you’re playing with. If the game is extremely loose, as it seems to be, suited connectors are worth more, high cards and pocket pairs are worth less.

Then you tighten up even more and change your evaluations of your preflop hands.

I don’t mean to be a dick, I don’t mean to talk down to you, but poker is not a game of chance. If you’re consistently losing, you’re doing something wrong. If your opponents are consistently winning, they’re doing something right, if only by accident.

The books I’ve read say never slow play AA.

There is a difference between slow playing and pot building. I agree that you should never slow play AA, in the sense that you should never intentionally let people see a cheap flop when you hold AA. But that doesn’t mean you want people out of the pot when you have AA - it means you should raise to build the biggest pot that you can.

Of course you would rather have four people paying two bets than 8 people paying one, because the pot is just as big and you have a better chance to win it. But even better would be to get 8 people to pay two bets. Or even better, getting 8 people to pay four bets. That’s why I said that the only time you want to just call with AA is if you KNOW there will be a raise behind you, and you can re-raise to get even more money into the pot. But it’s a disaster if you just call and the pot remains unraised.

Incidentally, it’s also a disaster for AA if you raise and only win the blinds, because AA is one of the few hands with an EV greater than the value of the blinds. So if you think a raise is likely to only win you the blinds, a smooth call might be in order. The problem with that is that it’s almost impossible to know this from early position, and if you’re in late position and just smooth call when first in, you’re almost screaming, “I have AA” to knowledgeable players. Then you have the worst-case scenario - a small pre-flop pot, and a player who is only going to call you after the flop if he has you beat.

Not in the long run. Did you know that things like air pressure are just the sums of random motion? That there is a non-zero probability that all the air molecules in this room will decide to move in the same direction, asphyxiating me? The motion of individual atoms is nearly random. But the sample size is so large that the probability of this happening is so low that the Earth will be gone and the sun will nova before it’s likely to happen.

The problem with most games of chance is that we don’t live in the realm of the long run. We live in a region where the longer we play the more likely it is that our results will match our expectation, but always with a reasonable probability that we will wind up significantly off of expectation just due to luck. Poker has a high enough expectation for a good player and a low enough variance that ‘the long run’ comes reasonably quickly. Much more so than for say, Blackjack. If you think you’re a winning player but you’re down overall after a year of play, I’d say it’s time to stop blaming ‘luck’ and start looking at your skill level.

I agree with most of what you said, except for the bit about pocket pairs not playing well in loose games. Pocket pairs are EXCELLENT in loose games, because you either make a big hand with them, or you get off the pot cheaply.

The hands you want to avoid in lose games are hands like KJo, ATo, KQo, etc. The prime characteristic of these hands is that when they hit the flop they tend to make marginal hands that are extremely hard to play well. You tend to either win small pots or lose big ones (and pay through the nose). Also, when they make draws it’s often an inside straight draw, and in loose games you’re often getting the pot odds to call for that draw, so you get pot-stuck. That makes them high variance hands that tend to cause big fluctuations in your bankroll, and yet they have very little expected value in loose games, and therefore it doesn’t take too many playing errors before you’re in negative EV territory.

I don’t presume to claim that I’ve played as much as you, but I disagree with this. Pocket pair is the kind of hand where you want few opponents in the pot; otherwise there will always be some fucker catching two pairs by accident. Usually the hand doesn’t improve on the flop. In a loose game, there are always plenty of players in the pot.

What kind of pocket pair are we talking about here? Hands like 33, 55, 88 - in a loose game you want to hit a set on the flop, or you’re going to fold. This makes them easy to play. If you’re betting or calling your small underpair hoping no one makes 2 pair, you’re overplaying your hand. Small pairs that miss their sets should be discarded in the face of any action at all.

Hands like JJ or QQ are slightly different, in that they stand a decent chance to make the best hand unimproved against a couple of players. In this case, I would agree with you. Raise before the flop, and hope to thin the field as much as you can.

Where medium to small pocket pairs (say, 99 and below) really kill you is in reasonably tight, aggressive games. They lose money hand over fist in games like that. You need the odds (and implied odds) to make seeing the flop just to hit a set profitable.

This is really why small pairs shouldn’t be played in early position. Because the worst case for those hands is that you call, a player behind you raises, and maybe one other person calls. Now you’re not getting the pot odds to draw to your set, and you’re out of position. You *might have the best hand, because it’s quite common with two or three people that no one hits a pair on the flop. But you’ll never know, because the aggressive player behind you is guaranteed to bet if you check, and if you bet he might raise a hand like AK looking for a free card or a sign of weakness. There’s also a strong temptation to call an aggressive player down to the river when the flop doesn’t have a big card on it, but that’s a very high-risk, low payout proposition. A really good player can make that work for him in the right circumstances, but the overall EV of these plays is small and the risk is large.

If I’m in a game that is extremely loose and passive, where I am pretty sure I’ll get at least five callers, I’ll play any pair from any position. In normal games that are reasonably tight and agressive (say an average of 3-4 callers and raises before the flop maybe 50% of the time), small pairs only get played in late position, and only when there are already enough callers that I know my draw to flop a set will get paid off enough. On the other hand, if there’s already a bet and only one caller in front of me, I’ll throw away small pairs even in late position. You can’t win the blinds by raising, you aren’t getting the odds to draw to a set, and there’s virtually no chance in a reasonably aggressive game that you’re going to be able to play that small pair properly unimproved.

On flush draws:

My prefered game is 1-2 NL at a brick casino. In those games, after the flop we’re either betting huge (half a stack or more) or checking. While a 1/3 chance seems good on paper, it isn’t good enough, for me at least, to call a big bet with. I play extremely tight though, but I walk away up for the night most of the time.

Are we playing the same kind of poker? If it weren’t a game of chance, it wouldn’t be featured in casinos, there wouldn’t be books on maximizing the odds, there wouldn’t be betting, and we wouldn’t get adrenaline rushes from playing it. Yeah yeah I get it, the experts will always be up at the end of the year despite a few bad beats, but saying it’s not a game of chance is crazy.

Apparently not.

Yes it would, as the casino’s income from the game is either a time collection or rake (or both). It could be a game with no random element at all and it would still be played in casinos if the players wanted it.

Yes there would. Books on playing is in fact a sign that there’s an element of skill, not that it’s a game of chance.

I don’t even know what you mean here.

You don’t get adrenaline rushes from skill-based games? How weird.

The cards are the only random element, and they are entirely secondary. Most hands at a competent table don’t lead to a showdown, so in reality those hands are decided solely on skill.

I said that poker was not a game of chance to get through my point: if Otto is consistently losing, he is doing something wrong. There is no other explanation. The little random element evens out and the more skilled player brings home the cash.

Otto – You say you’re up in the long run, and that’s all that matters.

The “long run” has kicked in for you.

You’re just upset by the short run, and you might not have been playing long enough for you to realize the natural variations that a bankroll goes through.

Let’s say a guy is making 2 BB per hour and playing 8 hour days. His daily numbers are nothing like +16BB, +14, +17, +17, +15, +18.

They’re like +30BB, -12, +24, +15, -18.

When I was playing a ton, I once dropped 150 BB over a period of time. I’d increased my roll about 800 BB before it.

You need to realize that the reason you’re up is that people are playing like they’ve been playing against you, and they’re getting there with a correct frequency which pays you off.

Lately, they’ve been getting there with more frequency.

What you’re pitting is EXACTLY the reason you’ve won money.

Well, then, you just don’t understand odds enough.

That statement is supported by the numerous other wrong things you’ve said.

And what you’re saying is EXACTLY what he never wanted to hear again.

[sub]Not that you aren’t right, though, you are. Just sayin’.[/sub]

But I’m not consistently losing. Consistently over the long run I’m winning. As I said, I had a really bad session. Bad cards and either being dominated or getting outdrawn ugly when I finally did hit a hand, like that. I know there’s no justice; that doesn’t stop me from thinking sometimes that there ought to be.

Are you listening to yourself?!
If the experts are always winning, then it’s not a game of chance.

Perhaps the confusion lies in the definition.
How about this:

  1. chess is pure skill, except that having White is an advantage (call it 60-40 at grandmaster level)

  2. duplicate bridge is more than 90% skill. The only chance would be if an expert pair bid a slam on a 75% chance (say one of two finesses), and a weaker pair stayed in game. Then both finesses fail, giving the weaker pair a good result on that hand.

  3. poker certainly has more chance than either of the above. In a single hand I can outdraw Gus Hanson. But over a period of time, he’s going to do much better than me for several reasons:

  • he has more knowledge of skills such as varying your play depending on position and number of opponents
  • he has more experience of long sessions, reading opponents and money management
  • he will cope better with poor cards and get more out of good cards.

No, you don’t want that really!

I play chess and have an international rating. Nobody weak will play me for money, because there is no luck in the game.

You need those weaker players to put their money into the pot and the chance that they will outdraw you is the main reason they turn up.

  1. Because it’s *their *hand, not yours, and they can do anything the fuck with it.

  2. If they’re winning with an oddball “sure loser” strategy, it works and it ain’t a “sure loser”.

  3. And- never blame your bad luck on the bad playing of others.

See- one of the problems is- when you play “right”, doing all the “right” things from those poker books- and someone knows you are doing that- then they can figure a strategy to beat you. Or, maybe not to beat you, but if 6 players are idiot losers, and there’s the oddball, and then you (playing the 'right way")- maybe the oddball has figured out that “the right way” is the wrong way to fleece newbies, naifs & losers. He has then designed a strategy be beat the other six players at the table, and thus he can safely ignore “Mr Conservative Right Way”.

Poker is primarily a game of skill, yes, but there are significant elements of chance involved also. Whereas a skillful player will win “in th elong run” a lucky player can very well walk away the big winner after any one given game.

You basic POV I agree completely with, Otto. it’s absolutely maddening.

But your examples are weak. Most of them involved people staying in with hands that make sense. Perhaps not top-flight play, but most of the hands they held weren’t terrible.

I, on the other hand, experience things like… assholes trying to bluff me with k5, calling my re-raises, and pulling a straight out of their ass on the river with the FIVE.

Lots more like that, don’t get me started.

Then I don’t see what you’re Pitting. You’ve already seen that over the long run these players pay you off. Hearing that shouldn’t annoy you; you know it’s true, you’ve seen it to be true.

I’m pitting because I don’t need to hear, after getting fucked by morons repeatedly in a short period of time, “oh well, they’ll pay you off.” it is irritating to hear. it’s one of those little sayings of the game that is almost always said with the best of intentions but is nothing but cold comfort. And because if I blow off the steam here then I’m not steaming at the table.

Besides which, I haven’t found that in the long run players like that pay me off. What I find in the long run is that players like that suck out on me, usually more than once, and then piss it away to other players or just leave before I have the chance to win it back. Now it may be that the money I’m winning is coming from people who are getting paid off, but that’s at best an indirect payoff.

Whatever else you may say, you simply can not dignify these peoples’ play with the word “strategy.”

The other thing…is that while it may be true that each individual butthead player will lose in the long run, when there are an abundance of them, it works against you.

It’s not hard to deal with one or two idiots at a table if the rest of the table is playing decently, but in small stakes games it tends to be just the reverse. So if idiot #1 doesn’t nail you, Idiot #2, 3 or 4 WILL. End result is that you get taken down again and again by hordes of these fools.