Poker Articles

Free card

The free card is a community card you do not have to pay (call a bet) to see. The free card is a double edged sword: on one hand, you’d like to be given as many free cards as possible on your drawing hands, on the other you do not want to give your opponents any of these free cards.

The free card is the beginner poker player’s biggest enemy. One of the most frequent mistakes beginners make is that they play too many starting hands and that they take their drawing hands way too far.

Now then, while doing this, they offer their opponents countless free cards, while their more experienced foes never give them a break, especially if they realize they’re faced with a clueless rookie. What this results in is that the rookie will throw away a bunch of money chasing his draws, and he won’t be able to cash in on the good hands that he makes.

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A little story about value bet bluffing…

By Shawn Rice

I’d like to talk to you about something that came up the other night while playing live poker.

A player named Cody and I get involved in a pot. We are playing NL Holdem cash game; I raised to $60 from mid position with 9c 9h. Cody completes from the big blind for $40 more the flop comes Jc Tc 6h. Cody checks, I bet $90 into a $130 pot Cody calls. The turn card is 3d. Cody checks again and I decide to play the player whom I have played many hours with here. I check the turn because the pot is now $310 and Cody has $650 in front of him and I know if bet the turn and get called or raised I must have the worst hand here and drawing to only 2 outs. I hate to give free cards here because any card from a 7 to an Ace or a clubs is a bad card for me. But I also know by checking Cody will 100% bet the river no matter what comes on 5th street. The river was the 2d and I was a little surprised when he went all in on the river betting $650 into a $310 pot. My first instinct was to call because why would he bet so much into a $310 pot?

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Fundamental Theorem of Poker and Morton’s theorem

In a recent post I wrote about the benefits of playing a non-optimal strategy in poker. I also briefly illustrated the Fundamental Theorem of Poker, introduced by David Slansky, the father of modern poker:
Anytime you are playing an opponent who makes a mistake by playing his hand incorrectly based on what you have, you have gained. Anytime he plays his hand correctly based on what you have, you have lost.”

Today I’d like to show the limits of the theorem and the support given by what is nowadays known as the Morton’s Theorem with some maths.

Against Fundamental Theorem of Poker, Morton’s Theorem states that in multi-way pots, a player’s expectation may be maximized by an opponent making a correct decision.

But actually David himself intended to apply his theory to head-to-head situations, which involve only two players. So when one theorem falls, another comes in support.

The most common application of Morton’s theorem occurs when one player holds the best hand, but there are two or more opponents on draws. This situation may happen many times during a poker tournament. In this case, the player with the best hand might benefit from the absolutely “correct” decision of her opponent to fold to a bet.

Morton proposed an example very similar to the following one to prove his thesis.

Consider in a limit hold’em game the following situation:

Flop       –> KS9H3H
Player A   –> ADKC (top pair and best kicker)
Opponent B –> AHTH (9 outs for the flush draw)
Opponent C –> QC9C (4 outs — not the QH which gives the flush to the opponent B)

Turn       –> 6D

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Poker Strategies

Before I start to write down any poker strategies, I want to state that poker is a game of skill and the more you play, the more you will know. There are strategies which work for ones and do not work for others, but the best strategy is to practice a lot, so you will be prepared to any situation which might occur during your play. Yes, in poker the most important thing is to know how to react in a given situation, and you can get that skill only by practicing a lot. Also, strategies differ from one game type to the other, so take care and apply one strategy to only one kind of poker! Now let us see some working strategies!

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Sexy maths: Get the upper hand at poker

by Marcus du Sautoy

Yesterday, Peter Eastgate left Las Vegas with nearly $10 million after winning the 2008 World Series of Poker. There were more than 6,000 entrants to poker’s premier event but the 22-year-old Dane outlasted the game’s greatest exponents to become its youngest winner.

Card games are often considered to be games of pure luck but poker also requires psychology – the ability to read the temperaments of your opponents – and a good handle on mathematics, which is why time and again you see the same faces finishing in the money in major poker tournaments.

Professionals constantly calculate the probability of winning hands with the cards they hold. So, in the final hand of the tournament, Eastgate had to disguise his excitement. The cards he was holding, the ace of diamonds and five of spades, combined with three cards on the table, gave him a straight (ascending numerical cards 1-2-3-4-5). The only way his opponent, the Russian Ivan Demidov, could beat him was with a higher straight. But the maths told him that of the 990 hands that Demidov could hold, only 12 would win, about a 1 per cent chance. Sure enough, Demidov had only two pairs and Eastgate’s maths had won him the 2008 World Series of Poker bracelet.

Even before you start dealing the cards there is a lot of mathematics that it’s worth being wise to. Hustlers and magicians spend years perfecting something called the perfect shuffle, which allows them to dictate where in the deck cards appear. The deck is split exactly into two equal piles and then the cards are perfectly interweaved like a zipper, alternating one at a time from the right and left hand. It is difficult to perform this trick but, once mastered, it can be put to devastating effect. This is because the person holding the cards knows exactly how the cards are arranged.

So, for example, suppose you and an accomplice want to sting two players in a round of poker. Put four aces on top of the pack. After one perfect shuffle the aces are two cards apart. After another perfect shuffle the aces are four cards apart, perfectly placed for you as the dealer to deal your accomplice all four “bullets”.

Magicians exploit an even more amazing mathematical property of the perfect shuffle. If you do it eight times in a row, although the audience is convinced that the pack must be totally random, the magician knows that the deck has returned to its original arrangement. The perfect shuffle is a bit like rotating an eight-sided coin. Each shuffle is like moving the coin round an eighth of a turn. After eight shuffles, just as the coin has returned to its original position, the deck is just as it was before you started shuffling.

But what if you are shuffling cards for a round of poker at home tonight with your friends. How many times should you shuffle the deck to make sure that the cards are properly scrambled?

Mathematicians have analysed the way most of us shuffle. If you are doing a riffle shuffle (also called a dovetail shuffle, the one favoured by dealers in casinos) and there are L cards in your left hand and R cards in your right then a sensible model is to say that there is an L/(L+R) probability that the card is going to fall from your left hand. After analysing the mathematics of this shuffle, it transpires that you need to shuffle the pack seven times for it to become random. Any less than this and the pack retains information from the previous game.

So, if you have aspirations to be sitting there with the finalists at the 2009 World Series of Poker, just remember, it’s the maths that will make you your millions. Lucky players don’t last.

Source: timesonline


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