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Hack 36. Know When to Hold 'Em

# Hack 36. Know When to Hold 'Em

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Oneparticularlycrucialdecisionpointistheroundofbetting

rightaftertheflop.Therearetwomorecardstocomethat

havethenuts(thebestpossiblehand),itwouldbenicetoknow

whatthechancesarethatyouwillimproveyourhandonthe

nexttwocards.Theruleoffourallowsyoutoeasilyandfairly

accuratelyestimatethosechances.

HowItWorks

Theruleoffourworkslikethis.Countthenumberofcards

(withoutmovingyourlips)thatcouldcomeoffofthedeckthat

wouldhelpyourhand.Multiplythatnumberbyfour.That

productwillbethepercentchancethatyouwillgetoneormore

ofthosecards.

Example1

YouhaveaJackofDiamondsandaThreeofDiamonds.Theflop

comesKingofClubs,SixofDiamonds,andTenofDiamonds.

Youhavefourcardstowardaflush,andthereareninecards

thatwouldgiveyouthatflush.Othercardscouldhelpyou,

certainly(aJackwouldgiveyouapairofJacks,forexample),

chancesofwinning.

So,ninecardswillhelpyou.Theruleoffourestimatesthatyou

havea36percentchanceofmakingthatflushoneitherthe

threechance.Ifyoucankeepplayingwithoutriskingtoomuch

ofyourstack,youshouldprobablystayinthehand.

Example2

YouhaveanAceofDiamondsandaTwoofClubs.Theflop

Diamonds.Youcouldcountsixcardsthatwouldhelpyou:any

ofthethreeAcesoranyofthethreeTwos.Apairoftwoswould

likelyjustmeantroubleifyoubetuntiltheend,solet'ssay

therearethreecards,theAces,thatyouhopetosee.Youhave

justa12percentchance(3x4=12).Fold'em.

WhyItWorks

Themathinvolvedhereroundsoffsomeimportantvaluesto

maketherulesimple.Thethinkinggoeslikethis.Thereare

cardsthatyouhaven'tseen).Whendrawinganyonecard,your

chancesofdrawingthecardyouwant[Hack#3]isthatnumber

dividedby50.

Iknow,it'sreally1outof47.ButItoldyousomethingshavebeen

simplifiedtomakeforthesimplemnemonic"theruleoffour."

Whateverthatprobabilityis,thethinkinggoes,itshouldbe

doubledbecauseyouaredrawingtwice.

Thisalsoisn'tquiteright,becauseontheriverthepoolofcardstodraw

fromisslightlysmaller,soyourchancesareslightlybetter.

Forthefirstexample,theruleoffourestimatesa36percent

chanceofmakingthatflush.Theactualprobabilityis35

percent.Infact,theestimatedandactualpercentchanceusing

theruleoffourtendstodifferbyacouplepercentagepointsin

eitherdirection.

OtherPlacesItWorks

Noticethatthismethodalsoworkswithjustonecardlefttogo,

upthecardsyouwantandmultiplybytwotogetafairly

accurateestimateofyourchanceswithjusttheriverremaining.

cases,sostatisticallysavvypokerplayerscallthistheruleof

twoplustwo.

WhereItDoesn'tWork

Theruleoffourwillbeoffbyquiteabitasthenumberofcards

thatwillhelpyouincreases.Itisfairlyaccuratewith12outs

(cardsthatwillhelp),wheretheactualchanceofdrawingone

ofthosecardsis45percentandtheruleoffourestimateis48

percent,buttherulestartstooverestimatequiteabitwhen

youhavemorethan12cardsthatcanhelpyourhand.

Toprovethistoyourselfwithoutdoingthecalculations,imagine

thatthereare25cards(outof47)thatcouldhelpyou.That'sa

greatspottobein(andrightnowIcan'tthinkofascenario

thatwouldproducesomanyouts),buttheruleoffoursays

thatyouhavea100percentchanceofdrawingoneofthose

cards.Youknowthat'snotright.Afterall,thereare22cards

youcoulddrawthatdon'thelpyouatall.Therealchanceis79

percent.Ofcourse,makingamiscalculationinthissituationis

unlikelytohurtyou.Undereitherestimate,you'dbenutsto

fold.

Hack37.KnowWhentoFold'Em

InTexasHold'Em,theconceptofpotoddsprovidesa

powerfultoolfordecidingwhethertocallorfold.

here,notbecausehethinkshehasthebesthand,butbecause

ofthepotodds."

Whenthepotoddsareright,youshouldcallahandevenwhen

theoddsarethatyouwilllose.So,whatarepotoddsandwhy

wouldIeverputmoremoneyintoapotthatIamlikelytolose?

PotOdds

Potoddsaredeterminedbycomparingthechancethatyouwill

winthepottotheamountofchipsyouwouldwinifyoudidwin

thepot.Forexample,ifyouestimatethatthereisa50percent

chancethatyouwillwinapot,butthepotisbigenoughthat

winningitwouldwinyoumorethandoublethecostofcalling

thebetinfrontofyou,thenyoushouldcall.

Toseehowpotoddsworksinpractice,hereisascenariowith

fourplayers:Thelma,Louise,Mike,andVince.Asshownin

Table4-3,Thelmaisinthebestshapebeforetheflop.

Thetablesthatfollowshowthedecisionseachplayermakesbasedon

right,followingeachcolumnallthewaydown,toseewhatThelma

thinksanddoes,thenwhatLouisethinksanddoes,andsoon.

TablePlayers'startinghands

Player

Cards

Thelma

Louise

AceClubs,Ace

Hearts

Opening

50

bet

Mike

Vince

2Clubs,4

Clubs

4Hearts,5

KingDiamonds,10

Diamonds

50

50

50

Table4-4showstherevisedanalysisoftheplayers'positions.

Aftertheflop,threeofthemarehopingtoimprovetheirhands,

whileoneofthem,Thelma,wouldbesatisfiedwithno

improvementofherhand,thinkingshehasthebestonenow.

Thelmaisdrivingthebetting,andtheotherthreeplayersare

decidingwhethertocall.

TableAnalysisaftertheflop

Player

Thelma Louise

Neededcards

Chanceofgettingcard

Currentpot

Costtocallas

percentageofpot

Action

200

Bet50

Anyof

four5s

16

percent

250

20

percent

Fold

Mike

Vince

Anyoffour2sor Anyofnine

four7s

diamonds

32percent

36percent

250

300

20percent

17percent

Call50

Call50

Table4-4showstheuseofpotoddsaftertheflop.Thelmahas

apairofacestostartandhitsthethirdaceontheflop.

Consequently,shebeginseachroundbybetting.Theother

playerswhohaveyettohitanythingmustdecidewhetherto

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Hack 36. Know When to Hold 'Em

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