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March 10, 2006

Oddly Enough, They’re Not Certainties

Posted at March 10, 2006 05:49 AM in Beginner Topics , by Sack.

So you’re on the green and stroke your perfect putt, only to find a pebble veers your dimpled ball slightly off of the hole. You bank the 9-ball with an absolutely on point stroke only to see it rattle the jaws of the pocket as you are already pulling balls out for your opponent to rack. You catch that beach ball looking hanging curve ball pitched to you on the barrel of the bat with full torque of your hips, only to watch the wind blow it foul. A lot of things SHOULD happen a certain way. And when you know you’ve done everything perfectly and the plan goes awry, it’s hard not to go postal on someone. But the simple fact of life in general was summed up in two little words long ago… shit happens.

So using the context clues provided by my clever play on words in the title and my intro in the first paragraph, you may realize this has something to do with odds, bad beats, and yes… poker.

Before I go any further let me just say this: “No it’s not rigged”. Now that’s out of the way…

Yes, it absolutely sucks getting your aces cracked, your nut flush trumped by a full house on the river, your bottom two pair counterfeited by the board pairing, the other guys lower pocket pair catching a flop, etc etc etc. It’s absolutely devastating when it happens to you, and sure it’s ok to get upset. But don’t forget that anyone who’s played more than five minutes of poker has probably caught a bad beat too. And also don’t forget that at some point in some time, as awesome of a player as you are, you’ve caught that miracle card too.

The better hand loses, and it happens a lot. And it’s much easier to remember the bad beat than it is the should-have-and-did win. Handling these things in stride are what can make or break you in poker. Obviously if you take your aces (the best starting hand) you’d bet any amount against my 2-7 (statistically the worst starting hand). But if you lay me 9-1 odds on money I’d win money from you. Even the good ol’ 2-7 off suit will break aces a little over 10% of the time, give ‘em to me suited and I’d win about 16.5% of the hands. Even when you hold a monster after the turn, and your opponent has but a lowly two measly outs on the river… he’s still gonna catch that darn card 5% of the time.

Now that doesn’t mean play with scared money… by all means when you have an advantage don’t be worried about putting money in. The best hand against pocket aces preflop is middle suited connectors (I.E. like 8-9 for example) which cracks aces a little over 22% of the time, but remember, even though you’ll be pissed off 1 out of 5 times--- you’ll be raking in chips 4 out of 5. But when you do see your valuable chips sliding the wrong way when you’ve done everything right, you’ve still got to play the next hand. The bad beat is over and now you have to get your cool back and do the next right thing. Being a favorite in a hand is a percentage, not a certainty. Keep playing the odds and making correct decisions, and over the long haul you’ll have a lot more stories that begin with “I won…” than you will “Man, you won’t believe this crap…”

Shit Happens.

RIP Kirby,

Write your congressmen and reps and tell them you are against HR4777 (the internet gambling prohibition act).

p.s. Wish me luck in a big pool tournament this weekend... Vegas and some serious cash on the line. All my focus is on that until Saturday, after that it's back to logging some poker hours like I was before. Those millions are coming baby... I promise :)

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