Trust us you don’t want just your fair share of poker hands

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How often have you wished for yourself: “If only I could get my fair share!” That’s the amount of something one is due relative to what other people are receiving. Equal treatment. It’s only fair.

Let’s examine this on a theoretical basis: While playing poker, you were wishing to get your “fair share” of the winning hands. When we say that, we mean both the number of winning hands and the amount of chips in each. Are you sure that is what you really want? Suppose you are playing limit hold’em at your favorite casino. If the magic genie could grant your wish, would that make you happy? Would that make you a winner at the poker table?

The answer to both of these questions is a resounding no! You would not even break even. In fact, you would go home a loser – poorer by a significant amount, as a matter of fact. And the longer you played, the more you would lose. Suppose you played limit hold’em for six hours. In that case, getting your “fair share” of winning hands – assuming each pot, on average, contained the same number of chips – would result in your going home losing about $150.

That’s correct – $150 less in your pocket than when you got to the casino. Suppose there are nine people at that table. During that six-hour session, 210 hands are played (averaging 35 hands per hour).

You don’t play for free at the casino. There is a very real – and significant cost shared by the players. For each hand, there is the rake (say it’s $5) and the drop for the Bad-Beat Jackpot ($1), plus a tip ($1 – more if you are generous) for the dealer. That adds up to $7 x 35 hands per hour, or $245 per hour. With nine players at the table, the cost-to-play for each averages $27 per hour. Let’s round it off to $25 per hour. That’s your hourly cost-to-play. Play for six hours and your cost for the session is 6 x $25 = $150!

Play your hands better than your opponents play theirs. To do that, you must be more skilled than the others at your table.

Some of the ways:

• For starting-hand selection, use the Hold’em Algorithm or an equivalent set of guidelines. (See ad elsewhere in GamingToday.) Hopefully. The flop will improve your hand. if so, continue in the hand. Don’t ever chase with too few outs.

• Use the card odds to your advantage; be sure you are getting a Positive Expectation.

• Use betting position to your advantage.

• Learn how to take advantage of your opponents’ playing traits, and how to read their hands. Look for tells and know how to interpret them.

• Know when to raise.

• Be deceptive – slow-playing, check-raising, and trapping your opponents when you catch a monster hand. Become adept at bluffing; use the Esther Bluff tactic.

• Focus your attention on the game; don’t allow yourself to be distracted by the big football game being shown on the TV screen mounted on the wall.

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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