Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bad Beats vs. PokerStove

I had been thinking about a follow up to my book for small-stakes tournament players on the mental aspects of the game.  I wondered if I really had enough material for a full book, seeming as the many players who participate at the small-stakes level don’t really have much of a “mental aspect.”  A column in today’s Poker Player Newsletter (online) was eerily similar to some thoughts I had written down and yet to publish on the subject of “bad beats,” so with Tom Leonard’s column in mind, here are some slightly relevant thoughts on the same subject.

To quickly summarize his column, he asks you to compare the number of times you suffer from “bad beats” versus the times YOU inflict bad beats on your opponents.  He contends (and I agree) that if you put the hurt on more than you suffer, then perhaps you’re playing too loosely and are just getting lucky.  His legendary quote from Amarillo Slim is priceless - when asked by his wife why he didn’t “bad beat them back he responded, “Because I don’t get my money in with the worst of it, that’s why!

I found myself at the end of a series of brutal beats the other day (and more today…that’s fodder for another post).  I did what all poker players initially do - cry and swear, not necessarily in that order.  No, seriously, I lamented my misfortune (in both cases I was at least a 85% favorite, only to be rivered to death), but then I contemplated whether I played the hand as best as I could.  And for that, I opened up PokerStove.

It is one thing to know you’re ahead; another to know HOW FAR ahead you really are.  I detest coin-flips, especially when I have a great deal (or all of it) at stake. I prefer 2-1 odds, or 3-1…the more the better.  Especially at small-stakes levels, your opponents are more likely to get it with straight and flush potential, and are completely unaware of pot-odds.  You should get to know how to calculate your outs when drawing, but more important, you should be able to ascertain what kind of hand your opponent is holding and how many outs HE has.  Then play accordingly.

In addition, if they continually get in with the worst of it, you should target them, not run from them.  Yes, they have a stash of cash on account of cleaning someone else’s clock, and that tends to make them even cockier.  They may have gotten lucky before, but how often can a player expect to pull a 14% underdog rabbit from a hat?  If you don’t know the answer, consider taking up dice or bingo.

And don’t become discouraged even if you have the best of it against one of these lucky dogs.  The next day, after my series of “bad beats” and PokerStove research, I went back into action and did OK.  Won a couple of single-table SnGs, finished close to the money in a couple more, and felt pretty good about my play.  And even though the last game ended in a brutal beat, it provided material for my next post.  Tomorrow IS another day, after all.  Read it then.

And here’s a link to Tom’s column in Poker Player Newspaper

No comments:

Post a Comment