Sunday, May 20, 2007

Suffered a ‘Bad Beat’ playing Poker? Don’t Tilt.

Many a bankroll has been destroyed by a bad beat. It’s not that you loose the ranch on that hand, it’s what happens after its over. Bad beats are about as much fun as hitting your thumb with a hammer, so you had better learn to deal with them if your playing poker.

Poker maven Lee Jones has developed Poker’s Prime Directive, “Play happy, or don’t play at all.” It’s hard to be happy when your full house loses to a miracle draw. Steam comes out of your ears. The Poker God hates you, and you feel as if the “Law of averages” has been repealed. Get over it or go home.

First realize bad beats only happen to good players. It is rare for a good player to put a bad beat on another player. Good players calculate how to play the hand correctly, so they don’t go for long shots without the proper odds. It’s the ‘fish’ that suck out. When that happens, the good player acts like a pinball machine when shoved too far. They go on ‘Tilt”, play like a maniac and usually lose their bankroll.

If your tilting, but the game is good and you think you can make a profit, you have to cool down. Take a break. Walk around the casino. Ogle the cocktail waitresses or hunks, depending on your preference. Do anything to relax, forget the pain you are feeling, and get back into the proper frame of mind to be a winning player.

To combat the bad beat syndrome there is a universal fact you have to realize if you are a poker player. Short-term results are irrelevant. What counts is how you do during your poker life. Think of it as a book and each session a page in that book. If you are writing a best seller, you have to make the proper decisions when faced with a choice of words to use. It’s the same in poker. In the long run, good decisions make money, bad decisions lose money. If you have the best of the situation, over time you will show a profit.

Here is an example. We make a bet flipping a coin. Every time it lands heads, I will give you one dollar. Every time it lands tails, you will give me two dollars. Over the long run, say a million hands, heads will come up about half the time, and tails will hit half the time. After a million hands heads comes up 500-thousand times and I give you a dollar, for a total of 500-thousand dollars. Tails also will come up 500-thousand times and each time you will give me a dollar for a total of a million dollars. This bet gives me an expected profit of fifty-cents every time we toss the coin. There will be times when tails comes up eight out of ten times. That makes you feel good, you are on a streak. That doesn’t matter. At the end of the million hands each, heads and tails will come up half the time, and since you are laying me two to one odds, I win a half a million dollars. When an outcome's up more than its mathematical expectation it’s called bunching. That is what causes loosing sessions. Over the long run the ‘Law of averages’ is still enforced. In limit poker you will be a winner as long as the odds are in your favor. Playing the ‘law of averages.’ is your profit machine.

Remember two things. In the long run good decisions win money and bad decisions lose money, so make good decisions. The second is the Prime Directive, “Play happy or don’t play at all.” You will win in the long run as long as you follow these too rules. Relax, have fun, make good decisions, and you will be a winning player. Just remember to turn the ‘Tilt’ control to ‘off’.

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