Small Edges Add Up

While I was playing poker in the Borgata during the Borgata Poker Open, I overheard a conversation between two players I play with regularly, and I realized how their nonpoker successes have allowed them to become even more successful.  These two players were discussing real estate and the player on the right said that he wanted to get involved and had found what he thought was a good property, but did not have the connections to go about managing and fixing it.  The left player said that he had successfully refurbished a few properties and that they might be able to help.  Because the player on the left had learned about the business of fixing properties and had spent time aquiring the skills and connections, a lead, and possibly a business deal, might have fallen into his lap.  It is also important to note how both players friendly and approachable demeanor at the table made a business relationship between them more likely.

This is an encouragement to meet more people, learn more about subjects on which you are unfamiliar and to become an expert on more, since the compounding effects can lead to something great.  Malcolm Gladwell has written at length about the compounding effect of advantages in What the Dog Saw, which should be required reading for anyone involved in business.

There are countless examples of this in poker, but I will stick with just two.  The first one is not tilting.  Not only does not tilting leave you with more money in your pocket, you then have more money to play in a bigger game if the situation should presents itself.  Since not tilting lets you play your A game more, you feeling more in control of the game, which prevents more tilting.  In addition, since you are winning more, your regular opponents may see that and shy away from putting you positions where you will have to make tough decisions.  This should make you even more money in the long run.  This goes into the effect of image at the table, which is so important, that it requires a much fuller discussion than can be done here.

The second examoke is something I hear about a lot at the tables: being suited.  If your cards are suited before the flop, you have about a 5% chance of making a flush.  From this, people reason that being suited is not worth that much more over not being suited.  They are very wrong!  While making a flush does not happen that often, when you do, you will often win the pot and be able to put in large bets with a probable winner.  In addition, flopping a flush draw is usually a good reason to stay in the pot, which might allow you to win by making an unexpected straight, a pair, or by bluffing your opponent.  While these additional advantages might help infrequently, they can mean the difference between winning and losing a pot, and between being involved and folding.  If you are a skilled player, being involved in more pots is an advantage as it allows your skills to be applied against your opponents skills more often.

Here is an example:  You raise from the big blind with either AsKs or AdKs and are called by the big blind.

The flop comes Ts5s2c.  Your opponent checks, you bet and he checkraises you.  When you have AsKs, you can call or reraise and continue on in the pot, whereas with AdKs, you probably have to fold.

Let’s say that your opponent just calls the flop and the 7s comes on the turn.  When you have AsKs, you can play a big pot knowing that you have the nuts and can bet confidently.  If you have AdKs, you have a draw to a one card flush(using one from your hand and 4 from the board, which is obvious to your opponent).  If you bet and now get checkraised, you have to fold when you have a decent shot to outdraw your opponent.

Let’s say your opponent just calls the flop and the 7d comes on the turn.  With AsKs, you can bet knowing that if your opponent calls, you have a good shot(3 aces, 3 kings, and 9 spades) to outdraw them on the river.  When you bet, your opponent might fold a better hand which is great for you, and it makes it tougher for your opponents to know what you have.  If you have the AdKs, you can bet the turn, but likely only have 6 cards to win(3 aces and 3 kings) to win if you are called.  This makes a bet less appealing, and if you decide to check, your opponent cannot fold a better hand, and likely will not fold a better one on the river.

There is plenty more that can be said about the above hand, and the subject of compounding advantages, but I will leave it off here.  Hope everyone is doing well!

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