Monday, March 05, 2007

Dead Eyes See No Future

In the olden days of my gambling past, when counting cards at black jack was de rigueur, my group of cohorts and I would scurry to an open seat at third base whenever possible. You see, third base or the last position to act before the dealer, was of special import. The decisions made by the person in that seat were the ones that would impact the results for every other player at the table. Taking a hit or standing pat would determine which cards were left for the dealer. Nobody liked to see someone playing psychic black jack at third base. You know, the type of person to make their play based on their "feeling." Whenever a non-by-the-book player stood on 16 with the dealer showing paint, we all groaned inside knowing that our fate was being determined by someone playing less than optimally.

Years later, after learning the nuances of probabilities and statistics, we did finally realize that someone's decisions at third base had an equal chance of helping us as it did of hurting us. Still, at the time, it was enough to put us on black jack tilt. That ain't fun either.


With another losing week in live action behind me, my thoughts drifted back to the effects of compound decision making. I have trouble letting go of decisions made an hour earlier, either right or wrong, and wondering how my results would be impacted had I acted differently.

Here are some useless examples.

The new Thursday night game: I'm in the big blind and see UTG raise it up in standard fashion. Middle position lump of flesh re-raises, and finally G-Rob on the button makes it $100 to go. All pre-flop. When the action finally gets to me, I look down at AJo. I "lol" internally and make the easy fold. All three players in the hand finally get all their money in pre-flop. KK vs. QQ vs. AQo. The board is all undercards with four hearts. I had the Ace of hearts. $800 pot. Not mine, because I properly folded.

Not soon after in the same game, the action is very similar to that described in the previous hand. Again, in the big blind, I look down at pocket 7's. I "LOL" internally and make the easy fold. This time, it's KK vs. AA vs. AK. The flop is 7-high. $500 pot. Not mine, because I properly folded.

Just one more, I promise.

It's my home game last Thursday. It's a straddled pot and G-Rob raises to $20 and gets 1 caller behind. I look down at Q8d and after temporarily forgetting that it's a jackpot hand, fold. The odds of flopping a flush are less than 1%. Well, I flopped a flush. Second nuts in fact. And when G-Rob led out on the flop, the guy to my right pushed all in. He had probably close to $400. I would have stacked him as he had the lower flush. Stacking him meant that he wouldn't have mis-dealt a hand later when I had pocket 6's. The mis-deal in question was him putting the flop out before Otis had acted. The flop was Q64. Had I stacked him, he wouldn't have been in the hand when I found pocket Q's and re-raised big. He of course had AA.

It was the butterfly effect. And I was thinking too hard about how it impacted my overall results. Anytime I'm not thinking about the poker hand I'm currently playing, then I'm not playing as well as I can be.


Things that also bother me: I've had 6 hands this calendar year where either I or my opponent was all-in pre-flop. I've won 1. The hand I won was KK vs. QQ in Tunica. One loss was KK vs AK. See the title of Barry Greenstein's book. Two others, I rightfully should have lost as I pushed KK and QQ respectively into AA. The other two? The other two are my AA getting stacked by KK. Those two pots alone are almost half my current bankroll. Blah.


and Blah.

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