Friday, March 03, 2006


Poker is a game of such margins, as Daniel pointed out recently.

I win slightly more than half of the time at showdown. I win slightly more than half of the days I play. I win slightly more than half of the tables I play. You get the picture.

The big wins are often balanced out by the little wins, and the scraps left on the table are what make up your win rate.

I like that. The expected value of any one play vs. any other play is relatively small, but over time those decisions add up into something meaningful. If you make a one-bet mistake in a session, that isn't significant. But if you make that same mistake in every session you play, then that does quickly add up. (And most mistakes are more expensive than 1 BB.)

In that way, playing poker against other players is a lot like playing blackjack if you have a bonus included. Your expected return is profitable, but not by a whole lot.

Really, any time you play you're grinding out the hands. I'm lucky that I like the minutiae, the little things, about the game that make it fascinating to me.

It's these little things that make me question concepts of what constitutes a good play. When does something have a positive expected value?

I think I really need to do more of the kind of study described in this article from last month's 2+2 magazine.

I've been trying to do more of this myself, but it's hard to put people on hand ranges on the fly. I guess I need to work on that.

No comments: