People that chase aren't going to make it in poker

People that chase aren't going to make it in poker

March 06, 2018 3:00 AM


Have you ever been a “chaser” at the poker table? These are players who hope to catch one of their outs even if they only have a few. Some may go all the way to the river and the showdown. Players on tilt are more likely to become chasers; but there are many who stay with a drawing hand even with just a few outs so the odds are heavily against them.

Just so we are on the same page, here is an example of a typical chaser: He saw the flop with 8c-9s – a reasonable starting hand from a middle or late position when there have been no raises and none is expected. By the way, that’s the basis for the Hold’em Caveat.

The flop comes down: Kh-7h-5d. He has a draw to an inside straight; any 6 – of which there are four presumed to remain in the deck – will do it for him. Thus, he has four cards that will complete his hand – four outs. According to my poker mentor, George “The Engineer” Epstein, that’s too few outs to warrant further investment. The wise move would be to muck his cards – unless everyone checks and he gets a free card to see the turn. (Never refuse a free card.)

Using the 4-2 Rule, the odds of catching a 6 on the turn are over 10-to-1 against him. To warrant a call, there would have to be over ten times the size of his bet in the pot. Nevertheless, he is optimistic and makes the investment – foolishly! Sure, there will be occasions when he catches the 6 and wins the pot. Then, with a big smile on his face, he scoops up the pot. He should have learned by now the laws of probability are sacrosanct – inviolable. In the long run, that decision will cost him money! Avoiding chasing could well be the difference between enjoying a winning session versus losing all his chips.

Many skilled poker players set a minimum on the number of outs they must have to warrant further investment – usually six or more. For example, a draw to a big flush (9 outs) or to an open-ended straight (8 outs) would fill the bill. If you are in a middle/early position and there are only a few chips in the pot (after the dealer drops the House’s rake and a chip for the Bad Beat Jackpot), by all means, use the Hold’em Caveat – at least three opponents staying to see the turn with you, and no raises.

Of course, there are always exceptions to any rule. Example: On a weak flop with no honor cards, all your opponents check before you. This could be a good opportunity to steal the pot. Bet out using the Esther Bluff to help convince the enemy you have caught a big hand. This maneuver is best when there is no calling-station among those yet to declare. (Hopefully, you’ve been tracking your opponents’ playing traits.)

A glance to your left will reassure you an opponent is not preparing to raise you – as would be the case if he were to pick up a bunch of chips while you are considering your move. In such circumstances, your image can come into play. If you had been caught in a bluff several hands earlier, an astute – and, deceptive like you – opponent may raise you. So give your image some thought before making that move.

Bottom Line: It is far wiser to avoid chasing. That’s drawing to a hand after the flop with fewer than six outs. The few possible exceptions do not justify violating this rule. Always remember: “Chasers are losers!”