I started playing poker about 4 years ago, and quickly got addicted to the game. The strategy involved, and the thrill of the bluff were fantastic elements that kept me coming back for more.
Initially, we’d start off playing $20 buy-in tournaments. We then progressed to 25 cent/50 cent blinds and then to $1/$2 blinds. At one point, there was a foray into $2/$5 blinds, but people lost way too much money to keep the game friendly. Poker has gotten so popular, that in many circles, poker has replaced golf, or drinking as the client entertainment event of choice. I don’t recommend ever playing high stakes with clients. It’ll only end in tears and resentment.
Despite 4 years of experience, I would rate myself a very average poker player. The main reason for this is my fear of losing money and getting bad beat. A bad beat is where you have significant odds of winning, and you still lose. Pocket Aces all in vs. Pocket KKs means you are 80% favored to win. Yet, 20% of the time you lose, and it is the worst feeling out there. 2008’s World Series of Poker Champion won via a bad beat. He runner runnered (4th and 5th card) to catch his gut shot straight vs. his opponents AQ with a Q on the flop. How unlucky.
We play $1/$2 blinds, and the individual buy-ins have gotten progressively bigger while our individual net wealth have all gotten smaller. The average buy-in used to be $100, now it is $300, with pot sizes surpassing $1,000 on a regular basis. Yet, I still only buy in for $100 or less at a time, for reasons stated above. I can regularly take on $50,000-$150,000 stock positions, and yet I can’t buy in more than a measily $100, nor can I call a $31 bet when I have a flush and gut shot draw on the river if my odds are not correct.
I lost $200 bucks last night when my QQ call all-in lost to A-3 b/c my opponent caught a 10 on the river for a straight. How do you go all in with an A-3, I don’t know. I had QQ again and went all in for my remaining $65 bucks and lost b/c my opponent caught his K on the river. It sucks to lose, but all I can do is make the right bets, and hope that my odds hold up in the long run. Because if you play incorrectly and call or bet without the correct odds, you will eventually lose all your money.
If you decide to play poker, you must set a loss limit and walk away once you reach that limit. Don’t let revenge, or the mania of gambling get in the way of what you must do. You must walk away and regroup your mind, b/c a tilting player will generally tend to lose even more money.
Poker is a zero sum game. If you win, it’s at another’s expense. Do not rely on poker to fund your food budget, or pay your rent. I promise you, there will be sessions where you will lose all your money, and you start skipping meals just to save $5 bucks. Those “poker pros” you see on TV have all gone BUST AND BROKE at one point in their careers. Don’t believe the hype. you may get lucky and win a big tournament, but you’ll make much more money using that time to focus on your career and job at hand.
SIMPLE POKER STRATEGY
1) Identify the type of game you are joining. Is it a loose, or tight game? Generally, if it’s loose, play tight, and if it’s tight play loose.
2) Observe each opponent and characterize them in different buckets: Playing for Fun, Super Tight, Animal on the Loose, HotSh*T, or Ringer and play accordingly. Be cognizant of who you are, and what other players think you are.
3) Treat a $200 bet the same way you would treat a $2 bet. In other words, if the odds are in favor for you to put all your money at risk, do it.
4) Realize that poker is a zero sum game. You can only make money if you risk money with favorable probabilities. If you get bad beat, just brush it off and focus on the next hand.
5) Just have fun and don’t take the game too seriously. It’s when you start getting addicted to the game, going beyond your loss limit, and taking buses to the casino where you start getting into trouble. You may win a lot in a hot streak, but at what cost to your general well being?
6) Finally, If you really want to make money, you should probably target the one who’s just playing for fun (but that’s not cool), the animal on the loose, and the hotsh*t 20-something year old who think he’s so great. It’s important to feed their egos and make them think you are weak and timid. Just be patient, and let them talk and strut all they want until you have something to clean them out. When you win, just brush it off to luck and move on. They’ll never know what hit them, and really attribute their loss entirely to bad luck.
Related: Inside The Mind Of A Gambling Addict
Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”