With the proliferation of poker in the past few years so many untruths, superstitions and repetition of just plain frustrating phrases have emerged.
As much as we have had the opportunity to learn from the vastness of poker resources, others have chosen to spread their own brand of poker wisdom. In other words, they have no idea what they are talking about. Most of these people are the ones that have watched some poker on TV, tried playing a few home games while even learning all the cute little names for their pocket cards. Big Slick. Cowboys. Maybe even the Doyle Brunson.
But you on the other hand are a good player. You actually pay attention to those television shows, asking yourself why players make certain moves. You dedicate yourself to doing well when playing and have even kept well informed by reading a few books and articles.
Why then are you outnumbered by your recreational poker buddies, when they claim something like "Aces always lose" or more accurately "blah blah, blah blah blah". Well I'm here to confirm you suspicious - they're wrong. Somehow an ignorant undercurrent of false poker wisdom has spread in the world of recreation poker, almost as if it was trying to infiltrate and poison the minds of decent players. After hearing the same bad advice and worn out phrases over and over again one might question their own poker knowledge. But let us take a closer look to investigate the inaccuracy of some of the common erroneous beliefs of novice players.
Really? I mean really? You always lose with Aces? Lets help these people out with a short math lesson. Your stiffest competition while holding Aces would come from a hand like 7-8 suited and even at that you are still a 77% favorite. Against any other pocket pair you are an 80% favorite. Against two undercards you are a 86% favorite and if you are lucky enough to be against an Ace with any kicker you are a 91% favorite. Those who would lose with aces on a consistent basis are not getting enough players out of the hand before the flop.
The same people who don't think raising before the flop is a good idea, are the same people that are always losing with pocket aces. Raising poker is winning poker, and to be successful you must eliminate too many players with speculative hands from seeing the flop. In fact, many successful poker pros will not enter a pot unless they raise.
Many new player love playing suited cards. 74? No problem. They will call preflop raises with delusions of making a flush every time. But when they lose the hand after chasing the flush to the river, only to miss after investing a heavy portion of their stack, they have only one thing to say: "But it was SUITED!"
Note: while holding suited hole cards you will only make a flush less than 7% of the time.
If poker was all luck Phil Hellmuth would not have 11 World Series Bracelets. If poker was all luck there wouldn't be 11 World Poker Tour repeat winners. If you ask any true poker player they will admit that the game does involves luck, but through skillful play over long term good players will come out on top.
This is one of the more highly contested ideas that even more experienced players will argue. I have read an interview with a former world champion that admitted even if you are the best player in the world, poker is still only about 40% skill. That leaves 60% of the game to another factor, gambling. The definition of gambling is to stake or risk money, or anything of value, on the outcome of something involving chance. Yes, that means when you play poker you are in fact gambling. No one can avoid bad beats, poor timing and an imperfect decision every now and then. However, if you are a player with a greater understanding of the game, you can use that 40% to be a consistent winner by gambling when the odds are in your favor.
Favorite hands can become a drain on a players game. For whatever reason someone develops an affinity for a specific hand and will play it in situations they shouldn't, believing that it somehow has mystical powers unknown to the rest of the poker world. Everyone that plays poker should have the same exclusive favorite hand - the one that wins them the pot.
OK. That's it. We get it. Poker is a game. It involves cards. There are bad beats, tough decisions and quirky situations that happen frequently. Yes, that's poker; and that's poker too, and so is that. I don't know where this phrase originated from but I do know that it is the most overused phrase in home games, casinos and anywhere else you find a game. "That's Poker" is not an excuse for every suck out, bad play or unlikely match up of hole cards. May I suggest we simply move on and remove this phrase from the poker lexicon.
There is no avoiding hearing all these words when around a poker table. As wrong and sometimes annoying these phrases can be, it is not necessarily a bad thing. When we as skilled players hear others repeating these same phrases recognize it as an opportunity to exploit your advantage as a more knowledgeable player. Understand that these weaker, uninformed opponents are where much of your profit will come from. So next time someone spouts out a bit of their horribly inaccurate poker knowledge just smile and nod as they ship their chips in your direction.
By Tom Bostic
- Poker Expert
Article courtesy of Vegas Poker 24/7 rakeback program.
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