Thursday, November 05, 2009

Poker: Time to quit

Maybe you know that I've been going through a phase of learning to play poker. Well, I recently realised that it's become a cul-de-sac; playing poker has reached a certain level of reward for me, and spending more time on it is probably not going to increase the satisfaction I get out of it.

How do I know that? Well, I've just gotten two books on poker strategy out of the library and have started studying them. They've confirmed for me that there's no way I'm ever going to be the best in the world at poker - all I want to do is achieve a certain level of local competence, and unlock the next level in my cellphone poker game.

Once I've done those two things, I'm going to massively ease back on my efforts to study and play poker. However, this has made me realise I'm interested in learning a little bit more about probability.

In the meantime, I'll use this post to record what I've learned from reading these books:
  • You have to give your consent if you want to lose money in poker. That's why going all in can be a terrible move. Sure it'll intimidate a lot of people, but it's also totally risky if you're called on it by someone with a better hand or no idea what they're doing.

  • The objective is to stay in for as long as possible - the fewer the number of players, the easier it will be to bluff and have better cards than they do. To achieve this, all you need to do is win money equal to the big and little blind ever hand.

  • Don't call. Don't let your opponents see your cards for free. Raise or fold. And remember that the people who stay in after you raise probably have a strong hand.

  • You must have high start cards to win (AA, KK, QQ, AK, or AQ) - you should strongly consider not folding on these hands. If you're feeling like taking a chance, then you can play moderate starting hands like (K-10, Q-10, J-10, J-9, or 10-9). You can also play anything with an ace in it - however, from A-9 down to A-4, only play if the cards are the same suit.

  • Don't count on the Flop improving your hand. It usually won't. The chances of the Flop not giving you a pair are about 68%. In addition, if a card that's higher than the ones you're holding hits the Flop ... consider folding.

  • The hardest players to beat are the patient players.
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