The Odds are Not Immutable

Some people grow up with the idea that the odds are the odds even though it turns out that this is rarely true.  In almost every situation there are ways to adjust the odds.

Let’s look at a situation dominated by the odds, a single-table poker tournament.  A coomon form has nine players.  The winner gets fifty percent of the purse, the second-place finisher gets thrity percent, and the third place finisher gets twenty percent.  The house usually collects a fee of around five to ten percent for running the game.

If the odds dominate, every nine games on average you will have one first, one second, and one third.  If you are playing for one hundred dollars, you are out ninety bucks at this point if the house is taking a ten percent cut.

Obviously some people lose far faster than this and some people make money.  Both the big losers and the big winners have changed the odds.  The difference is that the winners know how they are changing the odds; the losers don’t.

Aggression and lack of aggression is part of the problem in a no-limit or pot limit tourney.  In the early part of the tournament, you want to be aggressive when you have the best hand, and you want to fold when you don’t.  The most important way to change the odds in this kind of event is to make sure that you are almost always one of the final six.  If luck dominates from that point on, you will get one first, one second, and one third out of every six games.  Now you should be making a few hundred dollars every nine games.

Note that this doesn’t always work.  Sometimes you can’t be in the final six because you run into bad luck.  Bad things can always happen, but if you play only the very vest hands when everyone is still in the game, you are going to fold most of the time.  In most of these events, there are usually some people with no patience.  Show a little yourself, and you should be in the final six ninety percent of the time.

Once you are in the final six, your next goal should be to change the odds of finishing in the final three.  If you have acquired a lot of chips, you can get to the final three by continuing to play only the best hands, but that is not always the best strategy.  Sometimes you want to raise with mediocre or even relatively poor hands.  This actually increases your odds.

Take a game like Omaha High Low, for example,  Some hands have significant advantages and some have serious deficiencies, but most hands are almost even bets against almost almost all other Omaha hands.  If you have a hand that is only forty percent against one other hand and only twenty percent against two other hands, you don’t have a calling hand.  However, depending on your opponents, you may have a raising hand.

When you raise, you win one hundred percent of the hands where your opponents do not call.  If you get them to fold half of the time, and win forty percent of the time when they call, you are going to win seventy percent of the time.  If they reraise, that’s another proposition.  If you call, you are usually up against a better hand.

The odds are also changed by who your opponents are and how they play.  Sometimes you are up against oppoents that always fold if you raise.  Raise these people often.  When they finally call, it doesn’t matter because they don’t have any chips left.

Sometimes you are up against people who always call.  When you call a raise, you need to win the hand with your cards.  That means that callers will only win as many hands as their cards allow.  That demonstrabbly is the path for a slow steady losing pattern because of the house fees, but it changes your odds too because it limits the effects of those raises.

You have to be a lot more selective about the hand syou raise with when you face a calling station.  Raising against them has the same odds as calling, but your odds on winning the tournament are increased dramatically when you know hwo is a calling station and who isn’t.  When you know you have the best hand, bet.  Don’t try to slow-play these players.  They won’t bet into you.  You make the most when you make them call.

As you can plainly see from these examples, two simple risk management procedures can transform a mediocre losing player into a mediocre winning player.  The game offers hundreds more.  Discover and apply them.

Real life and those gambles we call investments are much more complex than a game of poker.  That complexity means that there are far more opportunities for you to institure simple risk management procedures that tilt the table in your direction.  You want the chips to fall towards you, don’t you?

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One comment on “The Odds are Not Immutable

  1. Nice review of strategies of different poker variants there Rust! I only know Texas Holdem poker but I really enjoy playing this games. Anyway thanks for the new information you’ve shared with us.

    regards,
    Lyka
    Best Poker Players

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