Sunday, November 18, 2012

Poker Lessons from Abortion Discussions

Say what?

I’ve often said that life is like poker, and vise versa, and sometimes, lessons from one can be applied to the other. Today’s lesson comes from a recent discussion I participated in (on Facebook, of course) regarding abortion (still a hot topic nearly 40 years after Roe v. Wade).

The discussion (if you can call it that) was shared from a link from a pro-life site, supposedly about a dilemma a young wife faced when she went to the doctor and found herself pregnant – again.  She already had a 1-year-old, and couldn’t afford another child.  You know where this is going – the doctor gave her a “choice” between killing the unborn fetus and killing her infant, and the discussion took off from there.

Now I don’t want to make this a comment on abortion.  I will disclose that I am pro-family-planning, which is the vein in which I made my FB comment.  Rather than make the “either or” choice (and frankly, very few things in life are just two choices), I backed up the truck to point out that IF the woman was serious about not being able to afford a second child, her choice should have been made BEFORE she became pregnant.  That is, she could (a) use birth control, or (b) not have sex…or at least, not have penis-in-vagina sex.  I’m sure there were other choices, but those were the two I mentioned.  I’ll tell you about the response I got later…onto to the poker discussion now…

Like the pregnancy situation, your poker play should be thought-out BEFORE you get into trouble.  Like chess players, you need to think a move ahead…or two, or three moves. You will be a much better player if you reduce the times you say, “What should I do NOW?” and plan by saying, “What should I do IF…”

For example, let’s say you’re on the button with J-10 suited, it’s passed to you, and you raise it up.  The small blind folds, and the big blind just calls.  The flop comes J-9-4 rainbow, the BB checks…and you…well, you plan ahead.

If you think about your choices now on the flop, and on the turn, and, for good measure on the river if you make it that far, you’ll make better decisions overall.  If you bet your pair of jacks now, and he folds, no problem; you win.  But if he calls…what do you do when the turn brings an Ace?  A face card, making a potential straight?  Another 9?

By thinking about all the potentials now, you can decide to bet small, or bet big, or to check your pair with so-so kicker (it depends on your stack size, your opponent’s stack, his playing tendencies, etc. etc. etc.).  But deciding HOW you’ll play the turn NOW, you’ll play the FLOP better, because you won’t have to make the agonizing decision later – you already know what you plan to do NOW.  And you also have to consider what to do if he RAISES now…Hardly an “either or” choice, also.

So make certain you’re planning ahead to avoid those complex decisions.  Both on the felt and in real life.  That way, you’ll be a winner.

So how were my comments about not having sex received?  Apparently, NO ONE is in favor of not having sex – we’re all rabbits or something.  The birth control issue was a bit more moderated, but as always, I am amazed at the number of people who claim that this is just not possible (mostly guys who don’t like wearing condoms). Boo-frickin’ hoo, guys. 

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