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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

Spades



KingDiamonds,10

Diamonds



50



50



50



Thencomestheflop:AceSpades,3Diamonds,6Diamonds.

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

probablytryingtogetareadontheotherplayers(e.g.,who

couldbluff,raise,andsoon).Bytheway,playersare

calculatingthechancethattheywillgetacardtoimprovetheir



handusingtheruleoffourandtheruleof2+2[Hack#36].



WhyItWorks

Imagineagamethatcostsadollartoplay.Pretendtherules

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

decisionsaboutfoldingtheirhands,buttheyevenmakeuseof

aslightlymoresophisticatedconceptknownasimpliedpot

odds.Impliedpotoddsarebasednotontheproportionofthe

currentpotthataplayermustcall,butontheproportionofthe

pottotalwhenthebettingiscompletedforthatbettinground.

Ifplayershaveyettoact,aplayerwhoisundecidedabout

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

biggerthanthetypicalpot.Someplayersspendalotofenergy

andalotofcallsjusthopingtohitoneofthesesuperhands

andreallycleanup.

Impliedpotoddsworkslikethis.InthescenarioinTable4-3,

MikemighthavecalledafterFourthStreet(thefourthcard

revealed),anticipatingthatVincewouldalsocall.Thiswould

haveincreasedthefinalpotto650,makingMike'scontribution

thatroundonly15percentandjustifyinghiscall.

Interestingly,ifVincehadbeenbettingintoaslightlylargerpot

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

chipsonyourfaithaboutwhatwillhappeninthelongrun.



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

whentomakeyourlaststandisallabouttheodds.

IheartheTVpokercommentatorstalkingabouthow"easy"it

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

sadisdifficult.

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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