Thursday, December 31, 2009

Analyzing NLHE: TAP Concept 60

This is the final installment of my series looking at the sixty concepts at the end of No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice by David Sklansky and Ed Miller. Soon I can get back to telling stories from the felt, but I also want to revisit some of these concepts, as well as the project as a whole, in future posts.

Concept No. 60: If someone bets into several players, and you have a hand that is somewhat likely to be best, but unlikely to improve, you often have to fold.

Yes. Similar ideas have been discussed in topics a few times before (particularly concepts 18 and 32, and to some extent concept 50, while concept 6 sort of argues the other way). I agree with the author's closing statement that this may be the single most profitable concept in the book for many readers. The reason is that our human nature (mostly due to the regret aversion and confirmation biases) begs us to call in this situation. For example, if we call with top pair and a good kicker and someone raises behind us, or if we have to fold on the turn or the river, this is easily written off as bad luck because we couldn't have anticipated those things, and we don't regret our call; hence, we will probably call again next time. Of course, the fact that there were so many possibilities we could not anticipate is what should have made us decide to fold. On the other hand, if we were to fold and it turns out we would have won the hand, it is psychologically devastating, and we are likely to call in such a situation next time.

With several players yet to act, two cards yet to come, and very little chance to improve our hand, we lack all sorts of crucial information that we would need in order to continue the hand profitably. Certainly, it depends on the situation (perhaps your hand is a big favorite, or your opponents are very passive), but many players call far too liberally in such situations.

1 comment:

Craig Berger said...

Hey, Keith, thanks for going through all of these concepts for us. It's been educational, not to mention a great diversion from the workday!