Decision making – the key to good poker

Gambling man
Image by waffler via Flickr

I have been playing various forms of poker lately: Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha, Omaha High/Low, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud High Low, 2-7 Triple Draw and RAZZ. All of these games are somewhat similar even though the rules for each game might contain some differences; they all require decision making.

There is a famous quote that says “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game” and that applies to poker games as well. The most basic decision you make during a game is whether to play the hand you are dealt to begin with. After you get your starting cards, your decisions should be based on what position you are at in relation to the dealer button, what your opponents are like, and what your hand strength is relative to all these other factors.

Once you decide to play a hand, you also have betting decisions to make such as calling, raising, re-raising, or even going all in. In some of these games, you are given more cards and more decisions to make based on what you hold and what you think your opponent holds. Did your hand improve? Did your opponent’s hand improve? Did your opponent think that your hand  improved?

As you can see, it starts to get very complex. And you can add to that the math decisions to consider;  the pot odds, the odds of making your hand if you are drawing, the implied odds if you make your hand at the turn or the river or on fifth, sixth or seven street.

In the book Caro’s Fundamental Secrets of Winning Poker by Mike Caro, he says in a blackboard style post, “The key to winning: In order to overcome the odds against you at gambling, your decision must really matter” and “in the long run. In poker you don’t get paid to win pots – you get paid to make the right decisions”.

The human condition being what it is, we sometimes replace sound decision making for emotional decision making and that is where we can go astray. When we forget to take the time to think over our decision, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

How do you make your poker decisions? Do you ever take the extra time to consider your actions before making them? Do you react emotionally to the players around you? Have you ever over thought a decision?

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One thought on “Decision making – the key to good poker

  1. Pingback: Decision making - the key to good poker : DadsPokerBlog

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