Misconceptions and Mistakes in Poker Games

Easy to learn yet impossible to master, No-Limit Hold’em to this day remains one of the poker games of choice among both casual gamblers and seasoned professionals. So what allows for so many to be seduced by the sweet siren’s song of Texas Hold’em?

It’s invariably the swings. Due to the no-limit betting structure, Texas Hold’em poker quickly transforms into one of the most complex poker games known to man. With more decision points than atoms in the universe, correct and incorrect become nearly impossible to calculate.

Whether you are playing in-person or online poker, the competition is stiff. Your goal as a player should be to overcome the inherent flaws in your game and become a more patient, disciplined, and resilient poker player than you once were.

It’s human nature to attempt to translate a deeply complex mathematical system into a language we can understand. The result? A poker battle of wits and wagers where each player’s priority is to outmaneuver one another, utilizing nothing more than keen observation to determine weakness…Or so it would seem...

Applying Game Theory to Poker Hands

The truth is, stud poker is a complex, chaotic system that, when scrutinized by an educated eye, can be broken down into somewhat simplified investment strategies.

Equity and pot odds will be the backbone of calculated decision-making - especially when one is real money gambling. An understanding of Game Theory principles will help piece the rest of the puzzle together. But no matter how deep our well of knowledge goes, luck will always serve as the great equalizer no matter the pot limit.

Oftentimes the result of certain poker hands does not reflect our performance, and this leads to misunderstanding what technically defines a mistake. In a conventional career, the quality of your poker games performance is rewarded on a direct scale across any poker variant.

If you make a big sale, you make a big commission. In poker, however, you can be rewarded for a bad play as easily as you can be punished for a good one. Our ability to objectively examine the process by which we arrived at our decisions is clouded by the result, which may have just cost us hundreds of dollars.

Poker Hand Metrics: Equity & Pot Odds

It’s common to obsess over a negative result in stud poker while ignoring what led to a positive one. This is largely due to inefficient tools to examine the validity of a decision.

The studied professional, however, understands the process outweighs the result, and that a mistake is a decision that is strategically disincentivize based upon the following metrics:

  • Equity: the percentage of the pot that a hand is expected to win based upon the odds the hand will win a showdown.
  • Pot Odds: The price we are b laid when facing a bet; which is the pot + the bet we have to call, divided by the bet we have to call

When we play poker, we often find ourselves investing in low-equity poker hands or calling bets while getting a poor price. When we do this, we are disobeying the fundamental principles of draw poker, which is to make positive expectation investments based on table stakes.

Wondering how these techniques can help you win real money - even when playing online poker? In our next lesson, we’ll dive deeper into stud poker’s investment strategies, and how we can ensure we are investing wisely - whether you are engaged in a free poker game or waging real money in online poker.