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Hack 37. Know When to Fold 'Em

# Hack 37. Know When to Fold 'Em

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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

stickaroundandhopetoimprovetheirhandsintostrong,likely

winners.

Potoddscomeintoplayprimarilywhenmakingthedecision

whethertostickaroundorfold.Louiseneedsafivetomakeher

straight,andsheestimatesa16percentchanceofgettingthat

5somewhereinthenexttwocards.However,withthatpot

currentlyat\$250anda\$50raisefromThelma,whichshe

wouldhavetocall,Louisewouldhavetopay20percentofthe

pot.Thisisa20percentcostcomparedwitha16percent

chanceofwinningthepot.Theriskisgreaterthanthepayoff,

soLouisefolds.MikeandVince,however,havemoreouts,so

potoddsdictatethattheystickaround.

Thencomestheturn:theJackofClubs.AsshowninTable4-5,

aftertheturn,withonlyonecardlefttogo,Mike'spotoddsare

nolongerbetterthanhischancesofdrawingawinningcard,

andhefolds.ThoughVincestartsoutwithapotentiallybetter

handthanMike,hetooeventuallyfoldswhenthepotodds

indicateheshould.

TableAnalysisaftertheturn

Player

Thelma Louise

Mike

Vince

Sameas

before

20percent

450

Neededcards

Chanceofgettingcard

Currentpot

Costtocallaspercentageof

pot

Action

350

Sameas

before

18percent

450

22percent

22percent

Fold

Fold

Bet100

Let'sassumethattheplayersareusingonlypotoddstomake

theirdecisions,ignoringforthesakeofillustrationthattheyare

couldbluff,raise,andsoon).Bytheway,playersare

calculatingthechancethattheywillgetacardtoimprovetheir

handusingtheruleoffourandtheruleof2+2[Hack#36].

WhyItWorks

aresuchthathalfthetimeyouwillwinandgetpaidthree

dollars.Theotherhalfofthetimeyouwouldloseonedollarand

gaintwodollars.Overtime,ifyoukeptplayingthiscrazygame,

youwouldmakeawholelotofmoney.

Itisthesamesortofthinkingthatgovernstheuseofpotodds

inpoker.Witha36percentchanceofmakingaflush,a

perfectlyfairbetwouldbetowager36percentofthepot.You

wouldgetyourflush36percentofthetimeandbreakeven

overthelongrun.Ifyoucouldplayagameinwhichyoucould

paylessthan36percentofthepotandstillwin36percentof

thetimeinthelongrun,youshouldplaythatcrazygame,

right?Well,everytimeyoufindyourselfinasituationinwhich

thepotoddsarebetterthantheproportionofthepotyouhave

towager,youhaveanopportunitytoplayjustsuchacrazy

game.Trustthestatistics.Playthecrazygame.

WhereElseItWorks

Experiencedplayersnotonlymakeuseofpotoddstomake

aslightlymoresophisticatedconceptknownasimpliedpot

odds.Impliedpotoddsarebasednotontheproportionofthe

currentpotthataplayermustcall,butontheproportionofthe

pottotalwhenthebettingiscompletedforthatbettinground.

whethertostayinbasedonpotoddsmightexpectother

playerstocalldowntheline.Thisincreasestheamountofthe

finalpot,increasestheamounttheplayerwouldwinifshehit

oneofherwishcards,andincreasestheactualpotoddswhen

allthewageringisdone.

Thephrase"impliedpotodds"isalsosometimesusedtorefer

totherelativecostofbettingcomparedtothefinal,totalpot

afterallroundsofbettinghavebeencompleted.Ihavealso

heardtheterm"potodds"usedtodescribetheideathatifyou

happento"hitthenuts"(getastronghandthat'sunlikelyto

bebeaten)orclosetoit,thenyouarelikelytowinapotmuch

andalotofcallsjusthopingtohitoneofthesesuperhands

andreallycleanup.

Impliedpotoddsworkslikethis.InthescenarioinTable4-3,

MikemighthavecalledafterFourthStreet(thefourthcard

revealed),anticipatingthatVincewouldalsocall.Thiswould

haveincreasedthefinalpotto650,makingMike'scontribution

thatroundonly15percentandjustifyinghiscall.

thatcontainedMike'scall,thepotoddsforVince's100-chipcall

wouldthenhavedroppedto18percentandVincemighthave

called.Infact,ifMikewereasupergenius-typeplayer,hewell

couldhavecalledontheturnknowingthatwouldchangethe

potoddsforVinceandthereforeencouragehimtocall.Real-life

professionalpokerplayerswhoarereally,reallygoodreallydo

thinkthatwaysometimes.

WhereItDoesn'tWork

Rememberthatpotoddsarebasedontheassumptionthatyou

willbeplayingpokerforaninfiniteamountoftime.Ifyouarein

ano-limittournamentformat,though,whereyoucan'tdiginto

yourpockets,youmightnotbewillingtoriskallormostofyour

Theotherproblemwithbasinglifeanddeathdecisionsonpot

oddsisthatyouaretreatinga"reallygoodhand"asifitwerea

guaranteedwinner.Ofcourse,it'snot.Theotherplayersmay

havereallygoodhands,too,thatarebetterthanyours.

Hack38.KnowWhentoWalkAway

InTexasHold'Em,whenyouare"short-stacked,"you

haveonlyacoupleofchoices:goall-inrightnoworgo

all-inverysoon.Asyoumighthaveguessed,knowing

isinTexasHold'Emtournamentstoplaywhenyouareshortstacked.Theymeanitiseasybecauseyoudon'thavemany

optionsfromwhichtochoose.

Theterm"short-stacked"canbeusedinacoupleofdifferent

ways.Sometimes,itisusedtorefertowhoeverhasthefewest

chipsatthetable.Underthisuseoftheterm,evenifyouhave

thousandsofchipsandcanaffordtopayahundredantesand

bigblinds,youareshort-stackedifeveryoneelsehasmore

chips.

Abetterdefinition,whichismoreapplicabletostatistics-based

decisionmaking,isthatyouareshort-stackedwhenyoucan

onlyaffordtopaytheantesandblindsforafewmoretimes

aroundthetable.Underthisdefinition,thereismounting

pressuretobetitallandhopetodoubleortripleupandget

backinthegame.Ipreferthisuseofthetermbecausewithout

pressuretoplay,being"short-stacked"isnotaparticularly

meaningfulsituation.

Itdoesn'tfeeleasy,though,doesit,whenyouareshortstackedandhavetogoall-in(beteverythingyouhave)?Itfeels

very,veryhardfortworeasons:

Youareprobablynotgoingtowinthetournament.You

realizethatyouaredowntoveryfewchipsandwouldhave

todoubleupseveraltimestogetbackinthegame.

Realistically,youdoubtthatyouhavemuchofachance.

That'sdepressing,andanydecisionyoumakewhenyouare

Onemistakeandyouareout.Thereislittlemarginfor

error,anditishardtopullthetriggerinsuchahigh-stakes

situation.

Applyingsomebasicstatisticalprinciplestothedecisionmight

helpmakeyoufeelbetter.Atleastyou'llhavesome

nonemotionalguidelinestofollow.Whenyoulose(andyoustill

probablywill;you'reshort-stacked,afterall),nowyoucan

blameme,orthefates,andnotyourself.

RecognizingaShort-StackedSituation

Intournamentsettings,atsomepointyouoftenwillhaveso

fewchipsthatyouwillrunoutsoon.Unlessyoubetandwin

soon,youwillbeblindedoutthecostofthemandatorybetswill

bleedyoudry.

Howfewchipsmustyouhavetobeshort-stacked?Evenifwe

defineshort-stackedashavingsomemultipleofthebigblind

(thelargeroftwoforcedbetsthatyoumustmakeonarotating

basis),howmanyofthosebigblindsyouneedisamatterof

style,andthereisnosinglecorrectnumber.Herearesome

differentperspectivesonhowmanychipsyoumusthavein

frontofyoutoconsideryourselfshort-stacked.

Twelvetimesthebigblindorless

Thoughyoucouldplayquiteawhilelongerwithoutrunningout

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Hack 37. Know When to Fold 'Em

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