Finding method of turning luck your way
July 04, 2017 3:00 AM
by George Epstein
Every poker player wishes he could have better luck – good luck, that is. Let the opponents (the “enemy”) have the bad luck.
“Luck” is simply a matter of chance. You never know what cards will be dealt to you and your opponents, nor what the dealer will place on the board. You have no control over it.
While you have no control over luck, you can influence it. That’s important! How well you do so will make the difference between a winning or losing session. Let’s illustrate this with several examples in limit Texas hold’em:
Have you ever raised on the flop with a drawing hand such as four-to-an-Ace-high-flush with at least nine good outs? Your card odds are only 1.86-to-1 against making the big flush. In this case, three (or more) opponents limp to see the turn. You raise. Having invested one bet, invariably they will call your raise for one more small bet. With 3-to-1 (or higher) money odds on that raise, you have a Positive Expectation (money odds higher than card odds against you).
Now, the player to your left mucks his hand. He had a middle pair and would have called a single bet, but not cold-call a raise – a double-bet. You catch your flush, and win the pot. As you scoop up the chips, he glares at you and says, “I would have made a full-boat and beat you if I had stayed in. Boy, were you lucky I folded.” That rack of chips you just won happened only because you influenced luck by forcing out that opponent.
A somewhat similar example: Holding pocket Queens, you raise preflop from an early position, hoping to thin the field. You would like to play your “made” hand against two or three players. Three opponents stay to see the flop with you: Jd-9s-5c. Your Q-Q in the hole is probably still the best hand. It’s checked to you, so you bet out. One opponent calls; the other two fold. The turn is a blank, but the river is Kh.
Now, you are concerned; a pair of Kings would beat your Q-Q. Fortunately, the remaining player doesn’t have a King in the hole. Your pocket-Queens wins the pot.
Again, as you stack up the chips, a player to your left who had folded to your preflop raise, scowls while announcing he would have made a pair of Kings and beat your Q-Q. Your preflop raise made all the difference.
Had you not raised, you would have ended up with second-best hand, and lost a bunch of chips. Again, you influenced luck in your favor.
A much different example: You stay to see the flop with 8h-9c. The flop is 10s-7s-Kh. You have an open-ended straight draw. You catch the 6d on the turn. Both opponents check, then call your bet. Then, Qs falls on the river. At first, your 10-high straight looks good. The early-position opens the betting and is raised by the other player. It’s your turn to act.
Pausing to think, you realize an opponent could have caught a spade flush or a straight higher than yours. What’s more, the early-position is a tight player, not likely to open the betting on the river without a very strong hand. You don’t know much about the raiser, but chances are she too has you beat. Wisely, you fold your 10-high straight.
The early-position had caught an Ace-high straight on the river, and the other player had connected with a spade flush. You saved yourself some valuable chips by folding on the river. By pausing to analyze the situation – leading to mucking your hand, you had influenced luck to save some hard-earned chips.