of The Fundamental Theorem of Online Poker Games
Suppose your hand is not as good as your opponent's
when you bet. Your opponent calls your bet, and you
lose. But in fact you have not lost; you have gained!
Why? Because obviously your opponent's correct play,
if he knew what you had, would be to raise. Therefore,
you have gained when he doesn't raise, and if he folds,
you have gained a tremendous amount.
This example may also seem too obvious for serious
discussion, but it is a general statement of some
fairly sophisticated plays. Let's say in no-limit
hold 'em you hold the and your opponent holds an offsuit
You check, your opponent bets, and you call. Now the
ace of diamonds comes on fourth street, and you bet,
trying to represent aces. If your opponent knew what
you had, his correct play would be to raise you so
much it would cost too much to draw to a flush or
a straight on the last card, and you would have to
fold. Therefore, if your opponent only calls, you
have gained. You have gained not just because you
are getting a relatively cheap final card but because
your opponent did not make the correct play. Obviously
if your opponent folds, you have gained tremendously
since he has thrown away the best hand.
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|When to Try
is this art/science (and there are indeed elements
of both, as you'll soon see) so important? Although
there are certainly many things poker players can
do to improve their chances of winning and losing
outside of bluffing/stealing (for example, extracting
extra bets from your opponents by trapping them with
a check-raise, slow-playing a hand, setting up false
tells, finding other players' tells), stealing is
numero uno. When you get to the bottom line, you find
that the only consistent way to get to final tables
and win poker tournaments is by winning a fairly high
number of pots to which your cards don't entitle you!
If you think about it, you'll soon see that this has
to be true. If the player with the best hand always
won the pot, the player who caught the best cards
on tournament day would win the event. Poker would
be a game of pure chance, no more difficult than betting
on a coin flip.
The beauty-and danger-of poker lies in just how much
skill is involved. There's far more skill involved
than most players, even most very good players, realize.