How To Win In Poker?

How To Win In Poker
10 Quick Poker Strategy Tips

  1. Play Fewer Hands And Play Them Aggressively.
  2. Don’t Be The First Player To Limp.
  3. ‘Semi-Bluff’ Aggressively with Your Draws.
  4. Fast-Play Your Strong Hands to Build the Pot and Make More Money.
  5. Defend Your Big Blind (with the Right Hands)
  6. Fold When You’re Unsure.

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What is the key to winning poker?

How to become good, or at least less terrible, at Texas Hold ‘Em: A novice’s guide It’s no surprise that in the past month, in the midst of our national lockdown, to the tune of a roughly 43% overall increase, with a 255% jump in first-time poker players.

  1. I’m one of the rookies, and my game is Texas hold ’em.
  2. For lack of my usual entertainment options, I began playing with a group of friends on Pokerstars (the group is about 30-strong, at this point), some of whom were newbies like me, and some of whom were very good, very experienced players that have played poker for a living in the past.

I knew the game, and all its rules, so it wasn’t like hold ’em was completely foreign to me. Nevertheless, during the first few days of the quarantine, I lost early and often, to the point that even though the games were only five, um, fake dollars apiece, I found myself down almost 40,

  1. Fake, dollars.
  2. Granted, it was no more expensive over that time span than a dinner out, or a couple of movies, so it wasn’t like I was breaking the bank, but it was frustrating.
  3. I consider myself a smart guy, so it was hard to admit that I sucked.
  4. But there was no getting around it, so after a particularly bad performance late one night, I decided to quit.

One problem—bad as I was, the game intrigued me. It made me mad that I couldn’t crack it. I refused to believe I was too stupid, or too emotional, and so it picked at me. Since a couple of the very good poker players were friends, I decided to ask them for tips, and I also observed their own play more closely.

  1. Before long, I’d had a series of revelations that completely changed how I looked at the game.
  2. More importantly, it changed how I performed.
  3. Now, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I’m great at hold ’em after a month. I’m not.
  4. But I now consider myself a decent player, and as of Thursday night, I had gone from down $40 (fake) to up $63 (fake) against the same group of people.

It all happened within four weeks—I won a number of tournaments, I finished second or third in others, and it got to the point that each time I sat down to a nine-person table, I felt like I had a good chance to win or come close as long as I kept my emotions and impulses in check.

  1. More satisfying still, I began to feel like I understood the game for the first time, with all its nuances, strategies, and frustrations.
  2. I am not somebody who calculates odds, or has studied poker tactics in books or videos.
  3. I still don’t know all the lingo.
  4. The tips that follow are meant for fellow novices, and to help you branch the chasm from “very bad” to “decent” without making poker your new lifestyle.

What follows are the ten tips that helped me. If you’re in lockdown and your new entertainment diet includes hold ’em poker, these are for you. (Note that I’m assuming a basic knowledge of the game hereif you don’t know the rules and want to learn,, Also, these tips are for tournament play, but are, I think, applicable to cash games as well.) 1.

Understand the value of your hand What is a “good” hand in hold ’em? Part of the complexity of the game is that there’s no easy answer to the question. When I began playing a month ago, a big part of my problem was that I thought having one high card at a big table was valuable. In fact, it’s not. You don’t have to understand odds to know that if you’re dealt K4 unsuited, for instance, you are in a weak position in a crowded game.

Even if you hit a king on the flop, with enough people in the hand there’s a good chance someone has you beat, and if there’s an ace on the flop too, god help you—somebody likely has two aces, and you’re beat. Sadly, I didn’t understand this, and would lose money over and over chasing nothing.

  • In some ways, it was worse when I caught a card, because it increased the chances that I’d bet more and lose.
  • That said, if the tournament is down to two or three people, K4 suddenly becomes a pretty strong hand, and getting a king on the flop makes it very likely that you’re ahead of everyone.
  • So the measure of a “good” hand is situationalwhat’s bad in one position might be good in another.

In general, hands like A5, K3, J9, when not suited, are weak with more than just a few players, and you should be smart enough to fold them in those cases. This will save you money and headache, and learning this was the start of my transformation into a solid player.

  1. If you have two face cards or a hand like K10, on the other hand, you should almost always stay in to see the flop.
  2. Interestingly—this also escaped me at first—consecutive low cards like 87 are more valuable than a hand like A4, and are worth playing (especially suited) since most people that stay in to see the flop will have higher cards, and if you end up hitting a straight or two pair, you could take a lot of money from them.

Similarly, know that if you hit a middle pair—if, for instance, you’re holding J9, and the flop comes K94, meaning you have a pair of 9s, with a king lingering on the board—you are very weak at a big table (since someone likely has another king), but stronger in a small group.

  • Bet or fold accordingly.2.
  • Understand position You know how I said above that some hands are good with only two or three players, but not so good with nine? Well, a nine-person table can quickly become smaller if enough people fold before the flop.
  • Let’s say you’re the dealer, which means the small blind and big blind are to your left.

If everyone else folds, and it’s your bet with just the blinds remaining, suddenly you’re at a three-person table, and the other two people haven’t bet yet. That A6 off-suit you’re holding looks pretty darn good now, and it’s worth calling the blinds or even betting over them to see the flop or win the hand outright.

On the flip side, if you’re to the left of the big blind, and you have to choose whether to call first before the flop, know that unless you raise, you could end up in a hand with eight people. In that case, your middling cards aren’t so hot. Betting first, after the flop, comes with a lot of power. So in the situation where you know you’ll lead the betting post-flop, and there are only a few people playing, you can take a calculated risk and make a larger bet, knowing that in all likelihood nobody has hit the cards they want, and that even if you have nothing, there’s a decent chance everyone will fold to you.

If they don’t, you can see another card and get out—you lost some money, but it was worth the risk.3. Bluff Intelligently In the scenario described above, you “bluffed” the other players in the hand. A bluff is often poorly understood, and a lot of people think of a bluff as going all-in with terrible cards.

That’s almost always a bad idea, even if you succeed here and there, because if you make a habit out of it, eventually you’re going to get crushed by someone with great cards who calls you out. To bluff intelligently, on the other hand, is to understand when you have good position, to understand that on your average flop with a small group, chances are nobody is getting exactly what they want, and to make a calculated bet that looks ominous but won’t break your bank if somebody calls.

The same is true if you’re fourth to bet, for instance, but everybody checks to you. Someone might be playing possum with great cards, but it’s worth putting out a larger bet to see if you can exploit their weakness and scare them into folding. In most cases, you’ll either win the hand, or somebody will call and you’ll at least get to the see the turn (fourth card), which could improve what you’re holding.

  1. And if somebody re-raises, you can flee.4.
  2. Make your bluffs look just like legitimate bets That bluff I described above? It should be very similar to how you bet if you have good cards and think there’s a good-to-great chance that you’ll win the hand.
  3. This creates a situation in your opponent’s mind that can lead to confusion—sometimes you have the cards, so when you’re bluffing, they might assume you’re strong, and fold.

But one of my favorite pieces of advice came form my friend Jake, who said that if you get caught bluffing, that’s fine too—the next time, you might have great cards, and if you make a similar bet and they think you’re trying to bully them again, you’ll take all their money when they call or raise.

  • Part of the fun of poker is creating an aura around of strength around yourself.
  • I decided to pursue this after repeatedly playing one of the good players who scared the hell out of me and forced me to fold repeatedly.
  • I wanted to be the scary one.
  • A strong player provokes one of two reactions—people either get scared of you, or they want to defy you and take you down.

And when they make the wrong decision, based on those emotions, you’ll take their money.5. Know when to fold, be willing to get bluffed, and screw hope Playing head-to-head recently with Jake, one of the very good players in my group, I watched him raise me a significant amount before the flop when I was big blind.

  1. My cards were bad—96, not suited.
  2. At that point, I had no idea what he had, but I knew based on his patterns that there was a good chance he was bluffing, and gambling that I didn’t have the cards to call him.
  3. I felt a surge of defiance—if he was bluffing, I should call! I won’t be bullied! But then I realized that it didn’t matter if he was bluffing or not, because my cards stunk, and I had little chance of success regardless of what he was holding.

It wasn’t worth the possibility that his cards were good. I folded. The point is, there are three emotions that can kill you in poker, and two those emotions are defiance and hope (we’ll get to the third in a second). Defiance makes you want to hold your own against someone throwing their weight against you, but it can lead to disaster if you don’t have the cards.

  1. Hope is worse—hope is the thing that keeps you in a hand, betting money that you shouldn’t bet, because maybe the turn or the river could give you that straight or that flush you wanted.
  2. If it’s free or very cheap to see those cards, great, but in a game with strong players, it will rarely be free.
  3. Every card will cost money, because other players around the table won’t need to get luckythey’ll already have good cards, and they’re not interested in making it easy for you to see more.

Don’t stick around calling just hoping to get that perfect 10 you need to complete the straight, or the two diamonds that would give you the flush, or whatever. That’s how you waste money, and it adds up quickly. Sometimes, you’ll make a smart fold, and the river will come up with the card you wanted.

  1. That’s okay.
  2. You made the right move, and in the long run that strategy is smarter even though it stings to know what might have been.
  3. Now when to fold after a bluff, too.
  4. Sometimes, a smart player will check when he has good cards, and once you bluff with a strong bet, he’ll either call repeatedly, or re-raise.

In that case, if you don’t have the goods, don’t throw good money after bad. Get out.6. Force yourself to be aggressive when you have the cards One thing I see over and over with certain new players in my group is that they’re content, even when they have good cards, to constantly check.

  • Deep down, they’re afraid that if they bet, someone will call them, and then they’ll be scared and have to fold or be forced to call without knowing for sure they’ll win.
  • That means that the only time they win hands is when they have really, really good cards, which happens rarely.
  • This is the third damaging emotion I alluded to above: timidity.

If you’re timid, you’ll always lose in the long-run, because at a table full of aggressive players, some will flame out, but others will stack their chips and be able to crush you. I played head-to-head at the end of a tournament recently with a timid player who had gotten very lucky with good cards, and we started out even.

  • I bluffed constantly with controlled but aggressive amounts, he didn’t get the amazing cards he wanted, and he folded so reliably that I no longer cared what cards I had—I just bluffed and bluffed.
  • His stack diminished steadily, and by the time he understood what was happening, he was so low that I could take him all-in on two consecutive hands without risking anything.

Timidity killed him—when you have good cards, or good position, you have to throw your weight around, or good players will crush you every time. On a similar note, always try to reduce the number of players you’re up against. If you have solid cards pre-flop, like AQ, bet enough that the others have to fold, so that by the time the flop comes, you’re only playing two or three others, and there’s less chance that somebody who doesn’t belong in the hand will beat you with an unlucky flop.7.

  • Understand your opponents Part of the romance of hold’em is “reading” your opponents, and I think this is a little overrated from moment to moment (especially online, but I don’t recommend trying psychoanalysis in person either).
  • However, you can definitely remember patterns.
  • One of the people I play regularly will call just about anything, but will never raise, which means you have to be very careful playing against him, since it’s hard to understand if he’s chasing a straight or has very good cards.

When we’re head to head, I check when I’m uncertain, knowing he’ll check back (and if he actually raises, I run for the hills), but if I have a winning hand, I bet medium amounts because I know he’ll keep calling, and I can take money off him. Other players are especially timid, so if I have a “decent” hand when it’s just me and them, such as a middle pair, and there’s a chance that they could be chasing a flush or straight, or even have the top pair, I’ll make a very large bet to test them.

  1. If they come back, I know I’m probably beat, but more often they’ll fold and I’ll win the hand.
  2. Against the very good players, I stick to basics on an average hand—bet large if I have position, be willing to fold otherwise.8.
  3. Understand the value of pocket pairs AA is supposedly the dream hand in hold’em, but I hate it.

When I have AA, even if this is not the textbook play, I’ll often just go all-in and force the others to call me. Yes, if everyone folds then I’ve “wasted” a good hand, but too often I’ve simply called only to watch the flop destroy me, and suddenly my aces are worthless.

Because of that, I’d rather take the chance that somebody calls me and I have a great shot at a big payday. (Good players would probably tell me this advice is stupid, but hey, we all have our hang-ups.) Pocket pairs in general are tricky, but my rule is that with KK or QQ or JJ I’ll make an aggressive bet pre-flop (sometimes it’s an all-in with KK too), and with anything lower than that, I’ll simply call (“limp in”) and wait like a snake in the grass.

The truth is, low pocket pairs aren’t so hot at a big table.55 might look nice, but the minute the flop comes up as AQ10, you’re done—someone has a higher pair. For me, it’s worth sitting back and waiting to see if that third five comes to give me three of a kind.

If it does, and there’s no straight or flush to worry about, I’ll check or call the bets on the table, waiting for someone to do something crazy, at which point there’s money to be gained. Which leads me to 9. If you have great cards, play them slow To have the “nuts” means to have the best possible hand on the table, and when that happens, you want to extract as much profit as you can.

In a recent hand, I had KQ of clubs, and the flop came up A75—all clubs. That meant I had the flush, and nothing could beat itand nothing was likely to, regardless of the turn and river. Instead of going all-in or making some huge bet, I just checked, then called a small bet.

  1. I kept doing that through the turn, at which point another player made a large bet that caused everyone but me to fold.
  2. I waited 20 seconds, as though I were struggling deep in thought, before calling.
  3. Then came the river, which didn’t change my status as the best possible hand (no full house possibility, no straight flush).
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I checked, and another big bet came. This time, I raised all-in, and suddenly the other player had to reckon with the fact that he’d bet a ton of chips already. He had to decide if he thought I was bluffing, and if so, whether it was worth it to call to find out.

There was some psychology at play on his end—the sunk cost fallacy (“I’ve spent this many chips already, so”), ego-related defiance (“I have good cards, can I let him bully me?”), and the looming thrill of calling a big bluff. He couldn’t resist calling, and he walked straight into my flush. I got all his money, and it was more by far than I could have hoped for if I played the best hand aggressively from the start.

It sounds paradoxical, but put aggression aside when you’re a sure winner.10. Focus and discipline are more important than anything, especially in the face of bad luck or boredom No matter how much people want to portray good poker as clinical and stoic, it’s an emotional game, especially at the amateur level.

Once you’ve synthesized the tips above, it all comes down to discipline. Those words are very easy to type, and very difficult to put into practice, especially if you’re tired or bored. On Friday night, after a run of very good poker, I failed to stay disciplined because the cards were horrible, bad luck cost me a big payout early, and I was starting to get frustrated and restless.

Before long, I’d made a couple of foolhardy, reckless bets, forcing me to re-buy, and then I did it again and lost $10 (fake). It was stupid, I knew it was stupid, but I did it anyway because discipline and focus are hard, and I didn’t have it in me. I was “on tilt,” and not strong enough to stop it.

  • Human nature will always try to derail you.
  • Maybe you’re a timid player by nature, and you’ll want to play too cautious.
  • Maybe you’re aggressive, and you’ll want to make a bad call or an ill-advised bluff.
  • Maybe you waver between the two.
  • Whatever the case, the temptation will always, always, always be present.

To win at poker, you have to stick to your plan even when it’s boring or frustrating. You have to be willing to fall victim to terrible luck, to lose hands on bad beats when you did everything right—this is a game of skill and chance, after all—and yet remain focused and disciplined afterward.

  • It’s hard, but it pays off.
  • Ultimately, poker can be a test of, and a window onto, human nature.
  • The element of luck that can bolster or tank even a good player probably makes it more lifelike than most sports, and to to understand the intricacies, and how to become a force at your table, is both deeply satisfying and well worth the gamble.

: How to become good, or at least less terrible, at Texas Hold ‘Em: A novice’s guide
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Is poker a skill or luck?

Conclusion: Is Poker Based on Luck or Skill? – The answer to whether poker is gambling or based on skill is that it’s a little of both. In order to win a hand, a player will need some element of luck, but they’ll also need to know exactly what to do with the cards and the situation in front of them.
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What is the main goal in poker?

The object is to win the ‘pot,’ which is the aggregate of all bets made by all players in any one deal. The pot may be won either by having the highest-ranking poker hand or by making a bet that no other player calls.
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What makes someone good at poker?

1. Discipline – Discipline is the most important trait a poker player can possess. It can help you make good folds when frustrated, put in more study time and leave the table when the game isn’t worth playing. It is no coincidence that extremely disciplined players like Ben Sulsky and Ike Haxton have remained at the top of poker for such a long time.
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What personality types are good at poker?

Sure, you’ve got to know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em. But more importantly, you need to have the emotional temperament to follow through on that strategy, even when the stakes are high and the pressure is on. That’s the conclusion of a newly published study that examines the personality types of successful poker players.

Confirming the cliché, it finds such people tend to be cool, calm, and difficult to rattle. Writing in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, a research team led by the University of Helsinki’s Michael Laakasuo suggests such steadiness is a prerequisite for developing expertise in the popular card game.

“Higher emotional stability predisposes poker players to continue playing poker,” it writes, “whereby they are likely to accumulate poker experience and skill.” Laakasuo and his colleagues conducted an online survey, in English, featuring 478 poker players.

Participants filled out a detailed survey designed to assess their personality using the HEXACO model, which measures honesty/humility, emotionality, extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience. The “emotionality” trait, which is labeled “neuroticism” in another well-known personality index, reflects one’s “tendency to experience fear, anxiety, and need of assurance.” The researchers note that it, and indeed all personality traits, “are known to be, to a large extent, stable over time,” meaning that it is unlikely they would be impacted by accumulating poker experience.

Participants were also asked how long they have been player poker; the level of stakes they typically play at; the approximate number of hands they have played in their lifetimes; and whether they consider themselves a professional poker player. The results suggest veteran players are, by nature, cool customers.

  • A predisposition for emotional stability — that is, lower scores on emotionality — is linked to high levels of poker experience,” the researchers report.
  • The effect of emotional stability was most strongly associated with the levels of stakes at which the participant typically played poker,” Laakasuo and his colleagues add.

“This indicates that experienced poker players may have an innate disposition to tolerate mental and emotional pressure, and keep calm while making decisions involving large sums of money.” While this held true across the board, the researchers also found personality differences between people who play online, as opposed sitting around a table with fellow players.

In-person players tended to score high on extroversion and openness to experience. “Extroverts seek excitement, activity, and novel experiences,” the researchers note, “and these are probably more often found in live poker rather than in online poker.” So, if the idea of playing poker for a career sounds tantalizing to you, you need to take an honest look at yourself.

If you can analyze the pros and cons of such a move from a detached perspective, and be pretty sure you won’t get caught up in the thrills and agony of wins and losses, you might want to cut a deck of cards and get to work. Pacific Standard grapples with the nation’s biggest issues by illuminating why we do what we do.

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Is poker a mental game?

Poker is a mental game, up there with chess and eSports, and for the last nine years I’ve helped thousands of poker players improve their mental game through my poker mind coach academy.
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What is the 7 2 rule in poker?

The 7-2 Game A few nights ago I had the chance to play at friend’s home game where we implemented the 7-2 game. For those of your not familiar, this is where anytime a player wins with 7-2, every other player at the table has to give them some amount of money.

In our case, we were playing a deep-stacked 1/2 game with six players and when someone won with 7-2, they would get $10 (5 BB) from every other player.25 BB total is not a bad score, especially when you’re able to take it down preflop. Some people hate the game, others love it, and I certainly fall into the later category.

Anything to drum up action and encourage bluffing is a win in my book. At first, it no one was getting dealt 7-2. After at least four orbits the hand was not shown down and everyone said they hadn’t seen the had once. This makes sense though- of the 1326 possible starting hand combos in NLHE, 7-2 comprises only 16 of them, for a little over 1% of total possible hands.

  1. After about an hour though of no one getting the hand, seemingly all at once, a very high proportion were getting dealt, and this continued for the rest of the night.
  2. There were at least 4x as many 7-2 combos dealt as what one would expect based on the odds (I certainly wasn’t complaining about that!).

While the game is normally fun, somewhat loose, with a good amount of aggression, the 7-2 game transformed the table to have a preflop aggression frequency higher than the toughest online 6max games. It seemed like there was a 3bet every few hands with no one ever really choosing to back down with 7-2.

  • On top of the standard 3 and 4bet bluffs with 7-2, there were also a few notable pots where 7-2 triple barreled on a scary board and got called down on all three streets and where a player opted to flat with 7-2 preflop and make a series of bluffs postflop to take it down.
  • For the home game that this was played in, I think the 7-2 game makes a lot of sense.

Everyone could afford to play these stakes so although the hyped up aggression left some people frustrated by the end of the night, it wasn’t going to make anyone not come back. The only scenario in which I could see the 7-2 game not making sense for one’s home game is if the stakes being played are meaningful to some, and the thought of losing 3 buyins or more in a friendly game is something that would discourage players from coming back (although in this type of case, my recommendation would be to lower the stakes, up the stack depth, and bring on the preflop aggression!).

  1. What I’m excited to further explore is not the merits of whether or not to play the 7-2 game sometimes – unless you hate action and people bluffing more, it’s worth at least trying for an hour or two.
  2. I want to look at how this game effects decisions so if you find yourself in a game where people are playing the 7-2 game, you know how to adjust.

I think it’s fairly obvious for those that have played the 7-2 game, most people over-adjust and bluff too much when holding 7-2. I’m going to look at how the reward of winning a hand wth 7-2 impacts one’s EV and your frequencies. For the sake of simplicity, let’s work with the assumption that the reward for winning with 7-2 is 30 BB – 5 BB at a 7 handed home game.

Let’s say you normally open 3 BB to win 1.5 BB. Now with the 7-2 game in play the reward is 31.5 BB. So it’s clear even in early position 7-2 is a slam-dunk open. Now what about a 3bet? Let’s say you standardly 3bet to 10 BB over a 3 BB open. So now instead of risking 10 BB to win 4.5 BB, you’re risking 10 to win 34.5 BB.

At first glance it might seem like we should be 3betting 100% of the time with 7-2. I think in most games this is probably correct, but if you’re in a really loose game where people rarely fold to 3bets, or up against a particularly sticky player, it might be best to just fold against those type of players.

  • Because once called preflop, 7-2 has such poor equity against a calling range so without much fold equity postflop, best to just fold pre.
  • Note in these games I would have a tiny or non-existent 3bet bluffing range without the 7-2 game.
  • Most players will have a frequency that they fold to 3bets, even in a loose, aggressive, and deep stacked game, so most of the time you should replace some of your 3bet bluffs with 7-2.

The key when adjusting for this game is not completely throw off your relative frequencies – if you normally 3bet in late position with 9s+ AQ+ for value and A2s-A5s as a bluff, don’t just add 7-2 to your 3betting range unless these players won’t adjust to the 7-2 game – almost no one doesn’t adjust when playing the 7-2 game, if anything, most players in my experience over-adjust and always “put you on 7-2”.

  1. So against most players you should also add at least the proportionate amount of value combos to keep your ratio of value hands to bluffs the same, if not more value hands due to overadjustment.
  2. Now on to 4bet bluffing.
  3. If a standard 4bet to a 10 BB 3bet is 35 BB, you’re normally risking 35 BB to win 11.5 BB, and with the 7-2 game to win 41.5 BB.

As you can see, after more preflop betting occurs, you’re starting to risk more to win relatively less. The same logic for when to 3bet bluff with 7-2 applies to 4betting, although because of the price we’re laying ourselves, we need to be a little more conservative than with 3betting.

Against a relatively balanced player, we should be 4bet bluffing all combos of 7-2. But against someone who only 3bets very good hands or is looking to gamble with a merged value range, best to fold all combos of 7-2 preflop. I imagine there aren’t many opponents where it is correct to do anything but fold all combos or 4bet all combos.

It would take a particular opponent who is somewhat balanced in their 3betting range but a little too loose to warrant a mixed strategy with 7-2. Postflop Barreling frequencies with 7-2 postflop are largely dependent on the size of the pot after the preflop betting.

In a similar fashion to preflop, it’s likely correct to cbet 100% in a single-raised pot heads up- if our cbet sizing is on average 1/2 pot, then one is risking 3.25 BB to win 37.5 BB. With multiple players in the pot, it still is likely correct to cbet 100% with 7-2 because of the price. Even if the 3.25 BB cbet only gets through 15% of the time in a 4way pot, it’s still a really profitable cbet because you’re risking 3.25 BB to win 43.5 BB (only needs to work about 7.5% of the time to break even).

If you’re at a table where it’s so loose that cbets don’t go through on the flop when playing the 7-2 game because everyone puts you on it, don’t ever bluff postflop with 7-2 and please let me know if you ever need another player for the game. In a 3bet pot, the same logic largely applies.

  1. In a heads up pot when cbetting the flop you’re risking 10 BB to win 51.5 BB, so you only need the bet to work 18% of the time as opposed to the normal 33% without the 7-2 bonus.
  2. Note how much more of an attractive proposition cbetting is in a single-raised versus heads up pot: cbets only need to work 8.5% of the time versus 18% of the time.

And for 4bet pots this then changes to 26.5% which while is better than the 33% that it would need to work without the 7-2 game, won’t change your range as significantly. In a 4bet pot you should probably give up with some combos of 7-2 and replace your worst normal bluffing candidates with 7-2.

Don’t be the guy that makes the hero triple barrel – on each street the extra 30 BB becomes much less of a factor. If it’s a 3bet pot heads up pot with 200 BB stacks to start the hand, and you get to the river with 100 BB in the pot and 150 BB behind. You decide to overbet the river and risk 150 BB to win 100 + 30 BB because goddamnit if you’ll lose with 7-2.

Normally you would need this bluff to work 60%. But with the extra 30 BB, this bet still needs to work 53.5% of the time, not that significant of a difference. If you decide it makes sense to have an overbetting range on a particular river card, it will likely make sense to include at least a combo or two of 7-2, just not all 12 combos.

  • Equity when called + fold equity – bet when called and miss + bounty equity = 0
  • Equity is when called = x
  • % Opponent folds = y
  • 7-2 Bounty = z
  • So let’s say I bet 50 into 100 on a flop in a heads up pot.
  • So the base equation before knowing our exact hands, equities, and bounty is the following knowing the size of the bet:
  • x(1-y)*200 + y*100 – 50*(1-x)(1-y) + z = 0
  • The flop is Kc6h9c.
  • Which is a better c-bet bluffing candidate, 72o or J10c?

Let’s approximate that 7-2 has about 5% equity against a continuing range and J10c has 35% equity. Your opponent will fold 33%, 8% more than optimal. In the home game I played, the 7-2 bounty was 50.7-2,05(1-.33)*200 +,33*100 – 50*(1-.05)(1-.33) + 50 = 57.875 J10c,35(1-.33)*200 +,33*100 – 50*(1-.35)(1-.33) + 0 = 58.125

  1. So in this case, we’d expect to profit about $7 (answer of equation – the bet) with our best bluffing candidate as well as 72o betting half pot in a medium sized pot for the stake, without much theoretical difference between the two hands.
  2. Now let’s look at what happens if this flop was bet called and a blank turn comes out.
  3. Kc6h9c4s

Which is a better bluffing candidate now for betting 140 into 200? Let’s adjust the base equation for this bet and pot size, how often your opponent folds (33%, a few % less than optimally against this bet size), and updated equities – 0% for 7-2 and 18% for J10c.

x(1-y)*480 + y*200 – 140*(1-x)(1-y) + z = 0 7-2 0(1-.33)*480 +,33*200 – 140*(1-0)(1-.33) + 50 = 117 J10c,18(1-.33)*480 +,33*200 – 140*(1-.18)(1-.33) + 0 = 201.796 As you can see, as the pot gets bigger, 7-2 becomes significantly worse (EV of -$23 in this example) to bluff compared to good draws (one would expect to profit $61 semibluffing J10c here).

Now a note on river play – if you do get to the river with 7-2, then it becomes your best bluff because none of your bluffs have equity but you get the extra bounty with 7-2. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should always bluff with all combos of 7-2 you get to the river with, but you should defintely bluff all 7-2 combos before adding other bluffs.

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Conclusion The big takeaway is to still be quite aggressive with 7-2 – the extra 30 BB in most circumstances makes it an excellent bluffing candidate. This becomes less and less true on later streets, and in bloated pots. Just remember to not get too crazy and have it make your ratio of value bets to bluffs go out of whack – with the addition of 7-2 to a bluffing range, remember to value bet extra thinly.

: The 7-2 Game
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What is the 5 card rule in poker?

An Example Five Card Draw Hand. – Five card draw is one of the most common types of poker hands. Each player is dealt five cards, then a round of betting follows. Then each player may discard up to 3 cards (4 if your last card is an ace or wild card, in some circles) and get back (from the deck) as many cards as he/she discarded.

  1. Then there is another round of betting, and then hands are revealed (the showdown) and the highest hand wins the pot.
  2. So you are the dealer at a five card draw game (against four other players, Alex, Brad, Charley and Dennis (seated in that order to your left).
  3. Everyone puts a nickel into the pot (Ante) and you deal out 5 cards to each player.

You deal yourself a fairly good hand Ks-Kd-Jd-5c-3d. A pair of kings isn’t bad off the deal (not great, but not bad). Then the betting starts.

  • Alex ‘Checks’ (checking is basically calling when you don’t owe anything to the pot).
  • Brad bets a dime.
  • Charley calls (and puts a dime into the pot).
  • Dennis raises a dime (and puts twenty cents into the pot).
  • Well, it’s your turn. Twenty cents to you. You can fold, call or raise. Like I said before, pair of kings isn’t bad, not good but not bad. You call and put twenty cents into the pot.
  • Back to Alex, who grumbles and tosses his cards into the center of the table, folding. (Note, when folding, never show your cards to anyone).
  • Brad calls. The total bet is twenty cents, but he had already bet a dime, so he owes a dime, which he tosses into the pot.
  • Charley is in the same position as brad, and tosses a dime into the pot.

The round of betting is over. After Dennis’s raise, everyone else folded or called (there weren’t any raises) so, everyone is all square with the pot. Now everyone can discard up to 3 cards. Brad discards 3 cards, Charley discards one card, Dennis discards two cards.

  1. You deal replacements to everyone) and now it’s your turn.
  2. You have a pair of kings, three spades, and no chance for a straight.
  3. It’s best to just keep the two kings and hope to get a 3rd or fourth king.
  4. You discard three cards, and your new hand is: Ks-Kd-Kc-4c-8h.
  5. Three Kings! A nice little hand.
  6. What do you suppose the others were trying for? Well, Brad kept two cards, so he probably had a pair (just like you) but it probably wasn’t aces, so even if brad got a three of a kind, you probably beat him.

Charley kept four cards, so he was probably trying for a straight or flush. (If Charley had four of a kind, he might have bet much harder). The big problem is Dennis. He raised earlier, and only drew two cards. He might be bluffing, but he could have had three of a kind off the deal.

  • Brad bets a nickel.
  • Charley folds (I guess he didn’t get his straight or flush).
  • Dennis raises twenty cents (to a quarter total).
  • You call.
  • Brad looks at his cards, then calls (betting twenty cents).
  • Again, everyone called Dennis’s raise, so the round of betting is over.

Well, the betting is over, everyone reveals his hand:

  • You had Ks-Kd-Kc-4c-8h.
  • Brad had Jh-Jd-3c-3s-Ah.
  • Dennis had Qh-Qs-Qd-As-7s.

Well, the highest hand is three of a kind, and the highest three of a kind is your three kings. You win!
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What poker does to your brain?

Medical benefits of playing Poker – Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease Alzheimer’s is known to be a neurodegenerative disorder that has a genetic predisposition and no certain cure has been recognized as of now. However, it can be prevented with certain cognitive sports and poker is one of them.

Studies have shown that playing poker can actually reduce your chances of developing brain-related diseases like Alzheimer’s by over 50 percent. Leads to rewiring the brain Poker acts like Pushups for our brain. It strengthens your brain and shields your nerve cells. Playing poker can help to rewire your brain and help to create myelin for a longer run.

When we perform any activity consistently, it leads to the creation of new neural pathways. The nerve fibers are surrounded by a myelin sheath. This protects and nourishes the nerve cell. The more often impulses are transmitted through this network, the thicker the myelin sheath becomes.

  1. This is called myelination.
  2. Hence, the more poker we play the more myelin our brains create.
  3. Poker also helps in controlling emotions and making quick decisions that increase cognitive capacity, hence improving your chances of keeping a healthy brain.
  4. There are many ways in which poker is useful for the brain.

In fact, it develops a host of skills in us. Mentioned below are the key ones:

While playing poker players tend to be totally engrossed in the game, trying hard to think about what moves the others are planning. This enhances their concentration, attention, problem-solving skills, etc. Playing online games like poker develops reading skills among players. Poker requires us to read and understand all its concepts, instructions, and find clues. In fact, some people even read blogs and books on poker. The reading skills that are developed in a person benefits them when they read so many things, such as reading helps in the development of the brain. During the game, players come across situations where they have to think and act quickly in a certain manner. Thus, it develops problem-solving and critical thinking skills in a person, which are useful for the brain. Playing poker is a stress buster for many. So it helps in keeping the brain relaxed. Poker also enhances our ability to read situations, and opponents, as the players need to determine the odds and probabilities in any situation if it’s a flopping flush or a full house.

(The author is CEO & Co-founder, Pocket52) Moneycontrol Contributor
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Is math important in poker?

Poker is a game of math. The math can range from simple things like figuring out the size of the pot to very complex things like calculating the EV of multi-street plays. But poker is also a social/psychological game where tells, psychology, and dynamics come into play (especially in live & casino poker ).

Players that approach the game solely through the social lens are just as much missing a crucial element as players that solely approach the game mathematically. Like most things, balance is required to be a well-rounded player who can thrive at any table. While most math-based players understand the value in the social side of the game (albeit, usually not giving it the credence it deserves – myself included years ago), social-focused players tend to ignore much of math side of the game.

This is normally due to the fear that the math will be too complex, too cumbersome, and maybe even too nerdy. How To Win In Poker Remember, we need both the social skills and the math skills to become the best possible version of our poker playing selves. If you’ve put off the math-side of the game, for any reason, I want you to HEAVILY consider giving it another chance. If you can do basic addition and multiplication, you can handle poker math.

If you sucked at math in high school, it does NOT mean that you will fail at poker math. I was terrible at math in high school and ended up taking stats twice in college – and even I manage the math behind this game. You need both the math AND psychological skills The true reason why the math is so important is that it gives us objective answers to many poker questions.

Questions like:

“What was the EV of my shove on the turn?” “Did I have enough equity to draw facing a half-pot bet?” “How often does my opponent need to fold here to make my bluff profitable?”

Answers to these questions are mathematical, and while your spidey-sense may lead you to the correct answer sometimes, the math will lead you to the correct answer every time. Just like sportsbetting, profits come from having an edge and in addition to the right partners, from the best Canadian betting sites, These are the 4 most important things that poker math can help you with: How To Win In Poker
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How do you become mentally strong in poker?

April 12, 2017 How To Win In Poker A few weeks ago, I touched on how a key component to Daniel Negreanu ‘s success in poker is his goal setting, We later looked at self-awareness, another attribute Negreanu and many other successful poker players share. Now I want to delve into the third component of poker success which is known as determination or “mental toughness” (as we call it in the mindset biz).

  1. You’ve probably heard the phrase a lot and know people who seem to possess mental toughness.
  2. But how exactly does one acquire it? I’m so glad you asked! Sports psychologist Dr.
  3. Graham Jones and his colleagues conducted a series of interviews and focus groups with various types of elite performers to find out how important mental toughness was to their success.

He and his group determined that mental toughness is having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables you:

  • generally, to cope better than your opponents with the many demands that sport (or intellectual competition) places on a performer; and,
  • specifically, to be more consistent and better than your opponents in remaining determined, focused, confident and in control under pressure.

Dr. Jones also concluded that there are 12 attributes that the mentally tough competitor must attain. While all 12 are important and none should be overlooked as they’re all interconnected, the items at the top of the list are most critical. Here they are as they relate to developing mental toughness in poker:

  1. Believe in your gut that you can achieve your goals. An unshakeable belief in your ability will be especially essential when things are not going well. Individuals who have this trait know they can overcome obstacles.
  2. Be able to bounce back from defeat and setbacks. Learn to use your losses and setbacks as a source of motivation. The road to the top is rarely smooth.
  3. Believe that you have unique qualities that give you an edge over your opponents. People with this mindset have the confidence to train in ways that best suit them and their needs, even if these methods aren’t traditional.
  4. Have an insatiable desire to succeed. This need should be almost overpowering. It takes a great deal of time and effort to become an elite player, so the desire to meet that goal must be motivated from deeply within.
  5. Be able to maintain complete focus on the task at hand. In order to be mentally tough, learn how to keep focused no matter what is happening around you.
  6. Be able to compose yourself rapidly following unexpected, uncontrollable events. Poker comes with a healthy dose of variance and factors that are out of your control. To succeed, learn to compose yourself quickly to get back into the game.
  7. Be able to get past psychological pain, like fatigue, or emotional pain, like tilt. The goal is to make optimal decisions in every situation, whether you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed or dead tired and need a seventh Red Bull.
  8. Believe that you can cope with competition-anxiety effectively. Perhaps it’s your first televised final table or you’re a favorite to win your first major event and the pressure is on. The pressures of real and/or imagined expectations can be anxiety inducing. Mentally tough players allow the less important details to fall away, and remain focused on their goal.
  9. Do not be adversely affected by the good or bad performances of other players. It’s easy to be swayed by horrid play or impressed by a celebrity or your favorite pro sitting at the table. Forget comparisons. Always strive to play your best.
  10. Thrive on competition. If you are the type who elevates your game when the occasion calls for it, you have this skill mastered. Being able to perform at your best when the competition is fierce is another sign of mental toughness.
  11. Remain fully focused even when dealing with personal issues. This one can be tough, but find a way to use these concerns as a source of motivation. Whatever you do, you must keep your head in the game.
  12. Switch your poker focus on and off as required. While focus is essential when you’re playing or studying, it’s also important to switch your focus to something completely unrelated when you go on break. Your brain needs a chance to relax, so you are ready to dive in when you return to the game.

All right, so now we know the necessary attributes to be mentally tough. But how do we develop them? To start, practice mental toughness at the table.

  • Come to the table with a strong desire to win.
  • Have a clear intention for every session.
  • Maintain present focus at the table by being concerned only with the here and now.
  • Present a strong image at all times.
  • Always keep a positive attitude.
  • Even if you have played poorly, you need not accept defeat.
  • Plan your hands.
  • Take your time in large pots.
  • Remain flexible.
  • Overcome fear of failure.
  • Be on the lookout for situations where you were mentally weak and find ways to improve before you sit down at your next session.

These lists may seem overwhelming, initially. As I wrote in the goal setting article, start small — so small you can’t say “no.” Use what you’ve learned in the previous two articles to develop these attributes, and improve your mental toughness. In combination, goal setting, self-awareness and mental toughness will help to catapult you towards success.

  • And when you get hit with a few bad beats in a row — which will happen — refocus and just remember that facing hardships can be a good mental toughness teacher. Dr.
  • Tricia Cardner is the author of Peak Poker Performance (with Jonathan Little ), available in paperback, audio and e-book formats via Amazon,

Take her free online course Rev Up Your Poker Success, a step-by-step guide to designing your best year ever. And for more from Dr. Cardner, visit her website and follow her on Twitter @DrTriciaCardner,

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    Does poker require IQ?

    I have played for money as a professional poker player for over 10 years now. The ride is definitely a rollercoaster that takes a specific skill set in order to excel. It takes a lot more than just pure intelligence or a high IQ to win at the game. In fact, just being smart might be the least important quality that leads to success.
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    Why do people lose in poker?

    Lack Of Patience – A lack of patience is a common reason why poor and average players lose at poker. There are players who can’t resist the urge to play any good pairs they have irrespective of what their opponents might have. Lack of patience will make you eager to win, hence you will end up making silly calls that will result in loss.
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    What is the average salary of a poker player?

    As of Nov 22, 2022, the average annual pay for a Poker Player in the United States is $42,591 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $20.48 an hour. This is the equivalent of $819/week or $3,549/month.
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    Can you make a living off poker?

    That’s one of the most common questions that aspiring poker players ask themselves and their poker friends. What’s the real answer? Yes, you definitely can make a considerable amount of money and even make a living playing poker. It won’t be easy, though, especially if we’re talking about online poker.

    • We have to be straightforward.
    • Times when pretty much any decent player could win money in online poker games are long gone.
    • The poker landscape has changed: the markets have been divided, games got tougher, and the average player got better.
    • However, despite all these seemingly bad circumstances, there are still thousands of players playing online poker for a living and ever more who dream of playing poker professionally.

    How do the lucky few succeed?
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    How much of poker is luck vs skill?

    Chess requires playing ability and strategic thinking; in roulette, chance determines victory or defeat, gain or loss. But what about skat and poker? Are they games of chance or games of skill in game theory? This classification also determines whether play may involve money.

    • Prof. Dr Jörg Oechssler and his team of economists at Heidelberg University studied this question, developing a rating system similar to the Elo system used for chess.
    • According to their study, both skat and poker involve more than 50 per cent luck, yet over the long term, skill prevails.
    • Whether a game is one of skill or luck also determines whether it can be played for money.

    But assigning a game to these categories is difficult owing to the many shades of gradation between extremes like roulette and chess,” states Prof. Oechssler. Courts in Germany legally classify poker as a game of chance that can be played only in government-sanctioned casinos, whereas skat is considered a game of skill.

    • This classification stems from a court decision taken in 1906.
    • One frequently used assessment criterion is whether the outcome for one player depends more than 50 per cent on luck.
    • But how can this be measured objectively? It is this question the Heidelberg researchers investigated in their game theoretic study.

    Using data from more than four million online games of chess, poker, and skat, they developed a rating system for poker and skat based on the Elo method for chess, which calculates the relative skill levels of individual players. “Because chess is purely a game of skill, the rating distribution is very wide, ranging from 1,000 for a novice to over 2.800 for the current world champion.

    1. So the wider the distribution, the more important skill is,” explains Dr Peter Dürsch.
    2. In a game involving more luck and chance, the numbers are therefore not likely to be so far apart.
    3. The Heidelberg research confirms exactly that: the distribution is much narrower in poker and skat.
    4. Whereas the standard deviation – the average deviation from the mean – for chess is over 170, the other two games did not exceed 30.

    To create a standard of comparison for a game involving more than 50 per cent luck, the researchers replaced every other game in their chess data set with a coin toss. This produced a deviation of 45, which is still much higher than poker and skat. “Both games fall below the 50 per cent skill level, and therefore depend mainly on luck,” states Marco Lambrecht.

    1. Skill, however, does prevail in the long run.
    2. Our analyses show that after about one hundred games, a poker player who is one standard deviation better than his opponent is 75 per cent more likely to have won more games than his opponent.” In principle, the method can be applied to all games where winners are determined, report the researchers.

    The percentage of skill in the popular card game Mau-Mau, for example, is far less than poker, whereas the Chinese board game Go involves even more skill than chess. Story Source: Materials provided by University of Heidelberg, Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

    MLA APA Chicago

    University of Heidelberg. “Skat and poker: More luck than skill? Economists develop rating system.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2020. University of Heidelberg. (2020, August 21). Skat and poker: More luck than skill? Economists develop rating system.
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    Is gambling based on luck or skill?

    Is Gambling Luck-Based or Skill Dependent? – Gambling always involves some amount of luck in it but it also needs a lot of skill in certain types of games. However, as we will see, even in games that are entirely luck-based, such as roulette, skill can be an asset for players to understand their odds.
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    Is poker a life skill?

    How playing poker builds life skills How To Win In Poker Poker isn’t just playing cards and placing bets, it exercises key life skills like strategic thinking, budgeting, and risk management. From the classroom to the boardroom and beyond, the lessons learned at the poker table empower you to face life’s challenges.

    1. Poker is one of the best ways to learn about money management.
    2. Learning to handle your chips in poker will teach you how to distribute your money efficiently, weigh risks versus rewards, and make financial decisions under pressure.
    3. Poker also fosters interpersonal skills that will help you both in and beyond the world of money, such as being patient, reading and understanding people’s expressions, and simply building your confidence.

    Zogo is passionate about equipping people with the tools they need to be successful. That’s why we’ve partnered with Poker Power, an organization that teaches women life skills through the game of poker. We’ve added new modules on because we recognize the strong connection between poker knowledge and lifelong success.
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    Is poker an intelligent game?

    Applied intelligence is the ability to sift through a mass of data, of varying formats and quality, to decide what to do next. Ideally in real time. Data science plays a leading role in that, with machine learning techniques helping to automate and shrink the time from data generation to informed action.

    And poker is a great example of applied intelligence in action. In a hand of poker there are only six decisions you will ever need to make: fold, check, call, bet, raise, all-in. Knowing which one to make is the ultimate test of applied intelligence. But sometimes it just comes down to intuition. In truth, poker is more complicated than those six actions.

    The bet and raise decisions come with a wide degree of gradation around bet sizing – how much should you make it? Call and all-in decisions are pretty binary – the amount is effectively pre-defined by the last aggressor (call) or your own stack size (all-in).

    • Check keeps you in the hand without the need to put more money in.
    • Whereas fold is the only decision where you will exit the hand.
    • There are up to four “streets” where these decisions will need to be made – pre-flop, flop, turn, river.
    • Sometimes those decisions will need to be made multiple times on the same street.

    Of course, the decision to be in a hand in the first place should be informed by many factors, including: number of opponents – versus a single opponent (“heads-up”) you will need to play many more hands than versus nine opponents (“full-ring”); your position at the table (which will change every hand); your own opening hand range from your position (which should vary by position); your stack size; the stack sizes of your opponents; the stage of the tournament (assuming it is not a cash game).

    1. Live poker requires a higher data threshold for successful decision making Poker is a game where information is continuously being generated.
    2. And live poker, as opposed to online poker, is where the information spectrum increases exponentially.
    3. This is because physical opponents seated at the same table will emit oodles more data than a digital opponent in a online game.

    It is not just what people say, but how they say it. Hands and feet are more reliable indicators than the face. The better players will deliberately emit false signals, the weaker players won’t realise they are emitting any signals. But none of these signals have much value without a baseline indicator, and that baseline might vary for each opponent.

    Your job as an observant poker player is to look for deviations to baseline behaviour. Information processing is done for you when you play online. Stack sizes and bet amounts are automatically displayed on-screen for your convenience. In live poker these become manual activities with few short cuts. The time to make a decision is important: take too long and you risk being timed-out, or signaling that you have a really tough decision – which returns useful information back to your opponents; act too quickly and you polarize your own hand strength between weak and strong – which also sends information back to the table.

    This perhaps becomes an adversarial nuance to applied intelligence that reflects a need to act in a way that is as discrete as possible – yet maximizes reward. Situational awareness and observation matter in poker What are the motivations for each opponent that might be influencing their own actions? Table position is a good starting point – a player in early position (where most players are still left to act afterwards) should normally have a polarized range of very strong or very speculative hands.

    For example AA, KK, QQ, AK would be very strong opening hands, and 22, 33, JTs, 76s would be speculative. Whereas a player in late position (few players left to act) will more likely have a merged range – which will also include weaker hands such as J-5, K-3. Should is the operative word. Not all players play the same way or will start with the same range.

    And remember that table position moves clockwise with each new hand dealt. In a full orbit each player will experience each different position at the table once. So observation is essential in the early stages of a game to form a baseline view of how each opponent plays.

    1. Number of players at the table will influence position.
    2. In heads-up poker there are only two players, so both are always in late position and should therefore play a very wide range of hands.
    3. In full-ring poker there will be 9 or 10 players, so all positions exist.
    4. In tournament poker, table size will vary as players get eliminated and the number of tables will gradually shrink as re-balancing occurs.

    Or sometimes one or two players will have popped out to the loo. This can create situational opportunities for observant players to realise that e.g. an otherwise early position suddenly becomes a middle one and act accordingly. Stack size is another leading indicator.

    1. Opponents with very different stack sizes may play the same two cards, but for very different reasons.
    2. For example a player with a short stack might play any two cards from late position because she simply can’t afford to wait for a good hand.
    3. A player with a very deep stack might play any two cards simply because she can afford it and is enjoying being the table bully.

    In tournament poker the spread of stack sizes will quickly fan out after a few levels, to reflect the ebb and flow of the game as chips are won and lost. It is less relevant in cash game poker where the stack sizes should remain homogenously deep for all players.

    1. The important point is that different strategies should apply to different stack sizes.
    2. And again the word “should”.
    3. Weaker players won’t be aware of these game dynamics and will fail to adjust their strategy.
    4. And stronger players will adjust their own strategy to take advantage.
    5. This creates the concept of player levelling, which should be another factor in decision making.

    Blinds and antes are effectively a tax on every player and will spur the pace of the game. That becomes hard currency in the pot at the start of each game – somebody’s got to win it! Blind levels will increase every level in tournament poker, but remain fixed in cash game poker.

    • Increasing blind levels will eventually turn a deep stack into a short stack if no hands are played, so it forces players to act to avoid being “blinded out”.
    • And being close to a new level might hasten some players to act sooner rather than later, especially if the new blind level will adversely affect the comparative strength of their stack relative to other players.

    Board texture is often the wrecking ball to every player’s hopes for a hand. A monotone (all flop cards the same suit) and connected (consecutively sequenced cards such as 9-T-J) board is a nightmare scenario for a premium hand like AA. Even with a matching suit, this hand loses a lot of its pre-flop value.

    This situation only gets worse the more players that paid to see the flop. On the flip side this does create exploitable opportunities for other players, so you will need to assess the likelihood of winning or being bluffed off a hand. Another factor unique to tournament poker is a concept called the “bubble”.

    This is the last place a player can get knocked out of a tournament without getting paid. As a rule of thumb, 90% of players won’t make the money. An objective for many players is simply to “reach the money”, which makes them very exploitable at this stage of the tournament – they will pretty much fold everything, even AA, as their understanding of risk/reward becomes temporarily scrambled.

    The concept of concealed information sets poker apart from many other game types Games like chess, go, backgammon and noughts-and-crosses are examples of perfect information games. There is no hidden information, and the community state is one of equal awareness. Each player can see what the other player sees.

    This is not true in poker. At the start of every hand each player is dealt two “hole” cards. These are private to the individual and should be kept concealed from all other players. In fact these two cards should be treated as personal assets, and their privacy should be a prime objective for each player.

    Hole cards carry the key to understanding individual game plan and skill level. They only ever need to be revealed at “showdown”, which is where two or more players either run out of streets or chips and no more decisions are possible. This is when the winning hand needs to prove itself, and is normally where you get to see your opponents’ hole cards.

    Even if you are not in the hand at this point, it is still a huge cache of free data which needs to be logged. It allows an experienced player to rewind the hand and understand an opponent’s playing style, and is all linked back to those two hole cards.

    1. Concealed information therefore means that many decisions will be based on guesswork, or abstracted from a range of possible values.
    2. It is partly why poker is the ultimate test of applied intelligence.
    3. And we haven’t even considered the dark arts of bluffing, semi-bluffing, pot odds, hand odds, implied odds, luck.It’s hardly surprising that players often resort to their own intuition to guide them through the decision making process.

    Poker AI now knows how to play poker, but not how to play people at poker Despite what you may have read, it is worth setting the record straight. Artificial intelligence has not come close to mastering poker. Progress has undoubtedly been made by the likes of Facebook’s AI Research team FAIR (“Libratus”, “Pluribus”, “ReBeL”).

    1. Academia also has a long history of trying to solve poker through AI – Carnegie Mellon University (“Claudico” was the predecessor to some of the FAIR work, and CMU collaborated with FAIR on later attempts) and University of Alberta (“Cepheus”, “DeepStack”) are notable examples.
    2. But let’s put this supposed AI superiority in context: the maximum number of opponents ever faced was five (but usually was just one); the stack sizes were reset each time new cards were dealt; blind levels remained fixed throughout and did not increase; player skill level was not varied; game play was always digital and never live.

    This last point alone should reveal the most overlooked omission of all – that the algorithms learned to operate with small data. There was little-to-no need for human observation or situational awareness. The algorithm was given a brain, but had no ears, eyes, mouth, hands or soul.

    • Put simply, it didn’t need to be troubled by the full information spectrum that all live poker players need to contend with.
    • One uncomfortable truth is that AI bots have been let loose on online poker sites where they masquerade as real players.
    • The likes of PokerStars and PartyPoker have returned millions of dollars to players for unfair losses.

    And to their credit these badges take the threat very seriously, with dedicated in-house teams trying to protect player welfare from bots. So it would be factually incorrect to say that poker AI does not have real-world capability or pose a threat to the integrity of the game.

    • The point I wish to make is that online poker AI exists, but is far too narrow to be applied to live poker.
    • Could artificial intelligence learn how to play live poker better than humans? How would it be achieved? The cognitive and generalized aspects of this are surely a data scientist’s wet dream.
    • Success would require the creation of an autonomous, multi-agent, game-playing algorithm that can learn, see, hear, reason and act in real time.

    A bespoke playing environment would be needed to cater for all the equipment that feeds computer vision and NLP. Tables, chairs, cards and chips would all be IoT enabled. The algorithm would probably need to operate at the edge with extremely low latency.

    Robotics could be in scope for the full T-800 effect, but is an unnecessary distraction. Rather, the algorithm’s viewpoint could instead be rendered to a VR/AR heads-up display for a human agent to act on its behalf – and would arguably be less creepy. Training would be an enormous challenge. The core game-playing algorithm is less problematic but would still need a substantial upgrade on what has already been achieved by others.

    It is the cognitive science and establishing a reliable baseline view of human behaviour that will likely be the most time-consuming component. In fact, would there be enough time left in our careers to achieve this if we started today ? And what would be the acid test to know it had worked? Perhaps it is as simple as an algorithm being able to fold “2nd nuts” in a live game, but not in an online game, under the exact same conditions against the same opponent – where the wider information spectrum afforded from live play could be applied to infer something at a human level that is otherwise impossible to detect.

    1. It’s called intuition, and sometimes in poker you’ve just got to go with your gut instinct.
    2. It quickly starts to look a lot less like the narrow AI capability of today’s poker AI.
    3. Which brings me to DeepMind.
    4. If there is any applied research team on the planet that could achieve this it is them.
    5. But even this would be a big step up from all that they have successively achieved through AlphaGo, AlphaGo Zero, AlphaZero, MuZero, Agent 57 and AlphaFold.

    Where they have excelled is at achieving prime game-play capability through deep reinforcement learning and reduced bootstrapping. This means they can surpass so-called “superhuman” capability without the need to feed with game rules or a history of human game-play.

    1. The algorithm just learns by playing itself billions of times through simple reward / failure outcomes.
    2. And DeepMind have just declared that reinforcement learning is going to be enough to reach artificial general intelligence (AGI).
    3. Which is an incredibly bold statement when you consider that AGI is widely considered to be decades away.

    It makes me wonder what achievements are up their sleeve that have yet to be announced. One thing is for sure. They haven’t yet built a live game-play AI that can beat humans at poker.
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