General concepts

Points of Play

Tournament Play


Why is it that so many percentage poker players seem only to eke out a living, while many of the most successful players are relatively weak on probability? 

How then can their intuitive ability ovecome perfect mathematics in poker games? (Actually nothing short of mathematical discipline called Game Theory. What I am speaking of here is strictly knowing percentages.)

This seems especially so for draw poker and lowball games, yet even here the mathematician is not usually the best player.

This phenomenon is more complicated to explain for hold’em and stud games. For draw and lowball, however, it can be summarized in one phrase:  After the draw. 

Knowing how to play after-the-draw is far more important than being perfect before-the-draw. Percentages by and large pertain only to before-the-draw play.

After-the-draw you must use psychology of poker, logic and possibly game theory. California poker students should stop and think about it.

Recently one of my students called up to ask why he was only winning $ 2 an hour in the lowball games of San Diego. He had mentioned the charts in various books and was very disappointed with this result. 

Upon further questioning, It is determined that he was playing quite poorly after-the-draw. For instance, if he was first with a one-card draw, heads-up against a pat hand, he would check and call with an eight-seven low if the pat hand bet! This is usually a terrible play. 

The right play is to come right out betting strategy or possibly to check and fold if he bets. (The basic reason is that if the pat hand has a nine low he will probably call if you bet, but check the nine if you check.)

The reason why after-the-draw play is so much more important than before-the-draw play has to do with the amount of money involved and the opportunity to make larger mistakes. 

Before-the-draw, you are originally shooting only for the antes. After-the-draw, you are shooting for all the before-the-draw bets, plus the antes. 

Making a small mathematical error before-the-draw will only cost you a fraction of a bet in the long run. After-the-draw a common poker mistake can be much more costly.

Missing a value bet or value raise after-the-draw is a mistake that also costs you at most one bet. Remember, however, that the bet usually doubles after-the-draw. Still, there are even more critical after-the-draw mistakes that can be made.

There are two poker strategy to play that can be made after-the-draw that can cost you a lot of money. This is because they can cost you the pot. The obvious one is throwing the good poker hand away. 

If there is $ 60 in the pot and someone bets $ 10 you only have to win better than one time in seven to show a profit. A bad call only costs you $ 10. A bad fold costs you $ 60. 

That is why the ability to make the right decision in this spot is so much more critical than most before-the-draw decisions.

Similarly, though not obvious, a second mistake that can cost you the pot is the failure to try to steal a ante when a bluff has a reasonable chance of being successful. Once again, you are only risking one bet for the chance to win many bets. 

Once again, also, the difference between someone who plays this part of the game well compared to someone who doesn’t is going to be a lot more than the advantage you get simply from knowing before-the-draw opening requirements.

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