Daryl Jace

Teacher, Blogger, Poker player.

Biased experience and luck in poker

By GLAS-8 link to  picture

By GLAS-8 link to picture

The problem with learning from experience is that we don't just take in information unbiasedly, we color it and shape it with ideas we had going into it. This is why 2 people can watch the same thing happen and have an entirely different perspective. It's why when I coach introverted shy types they are inclined to remember the bad shit that happens and think and vice versa for extroverts/outgoing people.


For example, a student said to me whenever I bluff the river I get called, that's why I don't bluff. So I went through his hand database and showed him what happened every time he bet river in the past year orso. Turns out he got folds over 60% of the time. How could his memory be so backwards? The times he bet river and got folds weren’t strong memories but bluffing and getting called was because it was painful. 


I coached an extrovert who did the same thing but in reverse. He loved to spew and thought his bluffs worked great but upon actually looking at it they didn’t. The different between the two types of people above are that when the introvert loses he places too much blame on himself and the extrovert places too much blame on bad luck.  


The amount of luck in poker rivals any other profession in my opinion. It's not just making good plays and losing and vice versa it's that  you can also make marginal plays (either small gain or loss) and instead get a huge loss or huge win. You can make a hugely profitable or unprofitable play but only show a small profit or loss.  


Every hand that you win or lose is unfair. Even if you get all in with AA vs 72o you're only supposed to win the pot 90% of the time, which means you are owed 90% of the pot. So when you win and get 100% of the pot it’s an inequity. The same goes for the guy with 72o getting 0 instead of 10.


If you bluff the river and get a fold you win 100% of the pot but you almost certainly won too much unless your opponent has no calling hands in his range (rare). You can call a river bet vs someone bluffing 95% of the time and he can show up with the nuts. Even If he had air you were only entitled to 95% of the pot but u got 100. Even when you try to steal the blinds and succeed it’s an inequity. A lot of this luck you can't see unless you know how to look. If you  make a bluff that's supposed to work 95% of the time and get called, it's easy to think you made a mistake. The same goes for a bad bluff that works, it's easier to say to yourself "I made a great play" rather than ask "Was that a good play or did I get unlucky? How do I find out?"


It’s hard to trust experience when every single hand is an inequity. Trying to make sense of the game based on experience alone is not impossible but most people fail i’d guess. 


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