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Bad advice and poker conspiracy theories

September 16, 2020

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Be careful: seemingly sensible players may lead you astray with misguided advice. We have a few examples of things you could hear from players who likely thought through a situation, but came to the wrong conclusion.

You can’t beat bad players. It’s better to play against skilled opponents. 

  • Bad players are unpredictable. It can be difficult to find meaning behind plays in which your opponent doesn’t even know what they’re doing themselves. 
  • Good players are unpredictable, too. But they’re far more likely to be setting traps or making advanced plays in order to win your chips. 
  • Playing with better players is educational if you can learn from their play and your own mistakes, but there is no doubt: the lower the skill of the opponent, the better your long term result will be.

Raising before the flop isn’t poker — it’s bingo!

  • Raising pre-flop is an essential and powerful tool in poker. 
  • You realize the value of your strong hand, and can often remove players from the hand who have played blinds to leave ‘dead money’ behind.
  • You create a tempo in the pot if you have position, or re-raise another player. 
  • Poker is about betting chips. Over-aggressive play is more akin to a poker game, rather than a full table calling to see the flop and checking down to see who wins.

Winners at poker are the luckier ones in the short term.

  • There’s an old adage attributed to many successful people from many fields: “The more I practice, the luckier I get.”
  • In the short term, anyone can get lucky at poker. But the players you see winning day in, day out are more likely to be making their own luck with advanced plays and a good thought process, rather than throwing chips into pots at random.

There is a lucky seat.

  • The human mind readily attributes patterns to things we see. Variance is a deceptive thing.  
  • Some players play far fewer hands than others. Some players seem to try to win every single hand. These aggressive players can win a large percentage of pots in a short period.
  • Split pots aside, every hand is decided by one of the players showing the best hand at the end of the pot, or betting and representing they might have the best hand. Somebody has to get the chips. Some players get more involved than others, making their seat more likely to win pots than seats of less active players.

Play with low cards because everyone else has high cards.

  • Taking on high cards with low cards is an uphill battle.
  • If neither of you hit, you lose. If you both hit, you lose.
  • Card removal is a valid poker concept which can be applied when counting outs to consider betting and calling. But low cards are intrinsically much worse than high cards.

When you’re winning you are playing with other peoples money.

  • When the chips are in your stack, they belong to you.
  • Taking chances instead of leaving the game and adding the chips to your bank is the same as joining the game with those chips in the first place.

Switch to Omaha Hi/Lo if you’re losing at Hold’em because the worst hands win pots.

  • Omaha Hi/Lo is a much more complex game than Hold’em. If you’re struggling to survive in a Hold’em game, moving to Omaha Hi/Lo will likely exacerbate your losses.
  • Sure, Hi/Lo has a low hand, but “missing the flop” is not a winning strategy, nor can it be reliably predicted. See our final category!

Streaks, upswings, and downswings are not predictable.

  • You are never in the middle of a streak, upswing, or downswing. Purple patches are historic and cannot be counted on to continue. 
  • Even though you might be able to benefit from table image after winning for a time, the following hands are not going to be affected by what happened earlier.