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Life is an adventure – a remarkable and exciting personal experience; a journey with an uncertain end result. Since poker is a microcosm – a miniature version – of life, it’s not at all surprising that poker too is an adventure.

Each hand dealt to you can result in an experience – an adventure at the poker table. It’s your choice whether to take the plunge and seek what the future holds for that hand.

Ideally, you will make that decision based on several factors: How high are our hole cards; are they paired or suited connectors; your betting position; the texture of the game; have there been any raises, or likely to be after you declare; and how many opponents are staying to see the flop?

Considering all that, you decided to stay to see the flop. Preflop, you don’t know where this adventure will lead. Perhaps you will decide to end that adventure on the flop. Staying on your adventure, you can only speculate where it will lead. Hopefully, it will reward you with more chips to stack in front of you. The more you win, the more enjoyable the adventure.

Looking Back…

As a teenager (I still remember), I often rode my bicycle along unfamiliar roads. I was on an adventure. Venturing off the main road, I didn’t know where it would lead. Once, riding into a wooded area, I came upon a beautiful and serene lake. The sun’s rays mirrored off its unrippled, glass-like surface, inviting me to pause at the side of the lake. I could hear birds chirping but couldn’t see them. The weather was warm and friendly. I dosed off as I lay on the grass by the lake. I soon awoke and, refreshed, decided to find my way back home. It had been a very pleasant, emotionally rewarding adventure – one that I will always remember.

The Poker Adventure

Likewise, when playing poker, we often find ourselves recalling a special hand with a smile and a warm glow. The less pleasant adventures are soon forgotten; although I must admit I do recall some bad beats I have experienced. I vividly recall my pocket sevens that flopped quad sevens; and my K-J flopping Kings full of Jacks! You have undoubtedly had similar experiences. When you started on your adventure, you had no idea that it would lead to such a wonderful – and exciting – outcome. Quad sevens. Kings full. Wow! It happens.

My handy Merriam-Webster Dictionary tells me that an adventure can be a

“risky undertaking.” Indeed, every poker hand can be a risky undertaking. Perhaps that is what is so fascinating about the game. Call it “gambling” if you prefer. You are risking your chips whenever you enter the fray – starting out on your next adventure!

The wise man pursues adventures that are more likely to earn him a reward – like the beautiful lake I discovered on my bicycle-riding adventure. Selecting my route, I avoided unpleasant experiences. In playing poker, we pursue the hand that is likely to bring us a reward: more chips. Being skilled, we avoid those hands – adventures – that are likely to be “losers.”

Once we have entered into the pot, having decided to pursue our adventure, there are decisions we must make along the way. Should I raise? Just call? Fold? Check-raise? Slow-play? Bluff? What about my opponents?

It was the same in my bicycle adventure: I could have turned back before coming upon the beautiful lake. I could have ridden my bicycle in a different direction.

Yes, as a microcosm of life, poker is full of adventure – exciting experiences that can lead to rewards. Skill helps us to choose the “best” adventures to pursue.

Comments? George “The Engineer” Epstein can be contacted at [email protected]

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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