Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Good Poker Players Enjoy Luck that Opponents Give


We all appreciate luck in poker, and wish we could bottle it and save it for future days, but in many ways luck is the enemy of a good poker player. First let’s look at luck from the perspective of the bad player. At least half the time when a bad player wins a pot, he will have gotten lucky to do it. The bad player comes from behind, sucks out when not getting pot odds, makes miracle perfect-perfect catches, spears a kicker on the river poker card, fills up bottom two pair against an opponent with top two pair. The bad player has a million ways to get lucky.

On the other hand, good poker players are playing with the best of it. Sure, they still get “lucky” sometimes, like making a flush draw on the river card, but they will have been getting pot odds on that draw and will have built the pot correctly too. Good players habitually do the mathematically correct action in any given situation. It’s not “lucky” for AA to beat J9. The good player actually tries to avoid being lucky, except to the extent that it would be lucky if the flop came AJ9.

One way that I often get accused of being “lucky” is when an opponent says: “You are so lucky I threw away my poker hand.” Well, that’s why I raised, to get you out. My luck here was again the residue of design. This is the sort of luck that good players manufacture all the time. But it’s not at all the same kind of luck that happens to the bad player. The bad player makes his own luck happen to him; the good player often makes other players give him good luck.

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