Course Overview and Introduction

Before I get into any poker I want to talk about the mentality I want everyone to try to have when analyzing poker in this class.

So I call it the decision mentality. I’m going to start with a story.

Who here has heard of credit card roulette? It’s like a game you play at the end of a guy going to restaurants. So what happens is poker players, they’re going to split the bill by instead of everyone paying their own bill, which is annoying. You have to keep track. You might have to Venmo people after the exact amount.

And sometimes the waiter or waitress doesn’t want to split the bill per person. So poker players get around this by just picking one person at random to pay the bill. And we like making this exciting. So what we do is we ask everyone to put in their credit cards. And then we pull out the credit cards one at a time.

And if your credit card is pulled out then you’re safe. And the last person in has to pay for the whole table. So it’s a pretty fun game. Yeah, I think I’m pretty lucky. The biggest one I lost was in Hong Kong. I once had to pay around 1,200 USD.

It was a pretty big table. But overall I’m pretty good at this game. It’s a game of skill for sure. But sometimes this results in some funny stories with non poker players. So this is something that happened to some poker players. So poker pro Matt, he goes to dinner with poker pro Steven.

And that brings Emily, who’s a close friend whom he also has a romantic interest in. So when the bill comes Matt’s like OK, I’m going to pay for it Emily. So he puts in two credit cards. He’s like the second credit card is for Steven– is for Emily. And then Steven pays for himself. So Stephen puts in one credit card.

So they play credit card roulette. And then Matt, being a very lucky guy, pulls out both of his credit cards before Steven’s. And Steven ends up paying for all three of them. So now the question is, who should Emily thank.

So who would you thank if you were in Emily’s shoes? Does anyone want to say to thank Steven? AUDIENCE: Yeah. PROFESSOR: Because Steven actually paid for the meal. So I think it’s a totally reasonable thing to do as a reasonable person to thank Steven who actually had to pull out his wallet. So in this class we want everyone to think in terms of the expected results and not actual results.

So Emily should be thanking Matt because, on average, Matt put in the card for Emily. And on average Matt is going to be paying for Emily because Matt’s going to be paying the one third of the time that Emily would be paying. But at the time, Emily thanked Steven for her meal and then didn’t say anything to Matt. And then Matt was upset about it and told the entire poker community.

That’s how I found out about this story. So we want to think about in terms of on average what your decision would have whether you would have made money in expectation or on average. So roughly, the law of large numbers says, over your lifetime, the amount you end up paying for credit card roulette is the same as you would have paid from splitting the bill.

So you know why split the bill? You might as well just save a lot of time by playing this fun game every single time. And over your lifetime, the amount you pay in credit card roulette is roughly going to be what you would have paid from splitting.

So all randomness eventually averages out to it’s expected value. That’s what this is saying. So what does eventually mean? So basically when we say a gamble is very risky I’m not mathematically defining anything here. But I just want to throw out some intuitive concepts.

So a risky gamble is a gamble where it takes a long time to converge at your expectation. But the point is, no matter how risky it is, eventually it will get you. So there’s a saying that death, taxes are the two things that eventually get you. As poker players, we would like to think that three things eventually get you. It’s death, taxes, and the law of large numbers will eventually– you’re going to reach your [INAUDIBLE]..

So here’s another hypothetical situation. So let’s say you get off at the wrong bus stop because you were distracted. And then you were upset yourself you analyze how to not be distracted in the future and get off at the right bus stop. But then after you get off at the wrong bus stop you find $1,000 on the ground. And then you immediately, you’re no longer upset and you marvel at your riches.

So this is sort of an absurd story. But situations like this happen all the time in poker. You’re going to make a bad decision but bad decisions still get a good result 49% of the time. And if you make the right decision you’re still going to get a bad result 49% of the time.

So it’s very important to analyze your decisions without being biased by the actual outcome that occurred. So you really want to be obsessed with this self-improvement, analyzing your decisions. If you made $10,000 in a situation where you could have be $12,000 then that’s not good enough. So I want everybody to think in terms of what’s the maximum you could of made and analyzing what’s the best decision you could possibly have made in every situation. And sometimes it’s hard because if the result is exactly correlated with the decision then you can just go back and look at the result and know whether you made a good decision or not. But that’s why learning poker can sometimes be very, very hard because you don’t have immediate feedback.

You’re not sure whether the decision you made is what caused you to make that money or you just got lucky. So with that being said, now let’s talk about some ways to reason about poker hands. So roughly there’s three levels of reasoning of poker hands. Level one my hand versus your hand. But by this I mean, you can see what your cards are. And you look into your opponents eyes and you say, OK, I can tell your cards must be pocket kings or whatever.

Your hand must beat this other hand. And you played your hand exactly against your opponent’s specific hand because you have a soul read on them. So let’s see the example of this. So we’ll watch an episode of Poker After Dark here. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [MUSIC PLAYING] – Raise to 1,200. – I think you would call it this time, Patrick.

– Button raises. Never anything. NARRATOR: Contrary to what Patrick might think Jennifer has a real hand and it just got better. She’s flopped top set. Patrick flopped a pair of tens with a gutshot straight draw. – I’ve got two pair.

– Check. – Full house. – I can’t beat that. – I thought you had pocket kings. – I almost thought I had you. [END PLAYBACK] PROFESSOR: So yes, this is sort of well known poker term from way that in the day.

If you’re a Jennifer Tilly hand– I’m sorry if I’m making fun of her– but basically she put her opponent on a specific hand. She looked at Patrick and Antonius and had a feeling that he had pocket kings for some strange reason. And then what happened was, so she had pocket jacks here, which is a really, really good hand. It’s a full house. And she just checked the turn and checked the river instead of trying to get Patrick to put more money in because she was so certain Patrick had pocket kings.

Just mathematically speaking, out of all the possible combinations of cards you have, to put your opponent specifically on pocket kings in this example is basically unfounded. So this gets to level two reasoning. So level two reasoning is my hand versus your range of hands, versus your probability distribution of hands. And another name for this is exploitative play. So let’s look at a different hand.

2-4 limit poker game

The 2-4 limit game was insane. It featured one complete maniac who was hitting and some really bad regulars that were calling down with very weak hands. There were also a couple solid players in the game. After some beats that would make the baby Jesus cry and dropping $100 or so I maintained my composure and ground it out. Finally the regulars drop away one by one and I’m down 70 bucks an I’m finally left alone with the fish HU. It takes me just over 20 minutes to clean out the fish and turn a $100 loss at that table to a $15.00 gain after the fish busts out.

I’m in the BB and have AKo. EP raises to 5, short stack pushes for 19, 2 calls of the 19 and they are deep. I decide its an easy call figuring that the original raiser will not pop it back I call the 18 from the BB and if an ace or King hits, its an auto push. Original raiser does not reraise and flop comes K high with three spades. I still push and get called by the donater (Please no spade)

Board bricks off and he shows Kd Js. Very nice pot. So things are turning around.

So in short after being down over 350 on some low limit tables, when the games are good, you have to push yourself to stay (I finally closed out my session at 1:30 AM EDT.) The games were +EV and things finally turned around and came back. I posted a total of $120 profit on the night.

It goes to show that the “experts” can be right when they say as long as the game is good, its +EV to stay. I fought off sleep and ground it out to make things work. When the soft spots went broke, I then went to bed. 3 1/2 hour session playing 4-5 tables. Not a bad night.

So after a couple hours with the kid I kinda got through to him and I’ve seen him a couple times since. He has since ditched the sunglasses and last I saw was doing a respectable job at playing the 6-12.

So, all is not lost for the young whipper snappers out there. Give them some time and some good solid advice and see if we can make them better people if not so much better players.

Hanging in There

The last couple sessions have been interesting to say the least. Mansion has started to get some customers, and they are very action orientated players. They are very LAG and very bad but I was in a couple limit games and a couple NL games (2/4 and 3/6 limit HE) (3/6 limit O8) and (2 NL100)

Things were getting hairy on the 3-6 limit HE. I dropped around 200 and kept running into monsters 3 handed turning straights against flopped full houses in an aggressive game will drop you some chips quick. This was a game where A high was winning 40-50 dollar pots When you start getting coolers in a game like that be prepared to dump some chips. My opponents in this game actually played well, but it was a very aggressive game. I played there like 2 hours and left.

The 3-6 O8 was a really good game. Early on I had little to work with. I would get some really good scooping hands (2nd lock low and nut flush) only for the river to pair up and boat my opponent to counterfeit my high hand. So it was an hour of grind grind grind. The rakeback on a table like that though is enormous so it was well worth it. The game finally got down to 3 handed where you can open up and take the gloves off a bit as you aren’t staring down the nuts all the time. I proceed to go on a tear and rattle off a $120 profit in the game.

The final hand which broke the game up was where I had 789T double suited and called a button raise. This is a hand that you can get away from rather easily even three handed but can make a lot of things happen. (though much mores o in PLO (high only)

Flop came 679 flopping me top two pair and the nuts straight with no low draw. Flop went two or three bets (forgive me I was 5 tabling) turn was the 9 hitting my big full. Went three bets and the river bricked high. I scooped the pot against A266. The game broke.

The NL100 games were your routine games except for this one game where there were some contributors. I had several hands where I stacked medium stacks but the one hand of the night was against a big stack.

Buying and Selling Shares

Wanted to touch on a couple things now that the Main event is right around the corner and the cash games at the WSOP are rip roaring and rocking.

This article concerns the fact of selling shares of ones self and buying shares of others.

In case people are new what you can do is this. Say you have won a seat to the Main even and its a 13K prize package ($10K for entry and 3K spending money) You take the 10K entry fee and break it down into shares. I personally never sell more than 50% of myself but you can sell what you like (Obviously not over 100%) to what you feel comfortable with. This way you are taking $5,000 (@ 50%) in money from your investors and any wins you have will be paid proportionate to the amount they invested.

Okay lets say you bust out. Okay, your investors lose their money but you have pocketed the $5k to reduce your exposure to the loss of the Main event. If you win prize money however, you will need to pay them their share of the prize you won. for example if 5 people paid each 1,000 for the 10% share of you and you won 1,000,000 dollars they are each entitled to 100,000 each. You will still pocket 500,000 for your 50% share.

As you can see it limits the downside loss to playing in big tournaments, and you can still benefit from the upside. In tournaments like the WSOP ME with like 8000 people expected, the odds are that you are NOT going to cash in a tourney like this. If you care to limit your exposure, sell off some of yourself to investors. But, one thing, Always put the agreements in writing. It makes the investors more comfortable and its a good idea anyway. You don’t want there to be hard feelings when all is said and done. Keep a log of the play at the blind levels and your corresponding chip stacks etc. and finally put what place you busted out in and the amount of prize money won (if any) take the time and type up a professional written report of how their investment went. It goes a long way toward keeping investors in the future.

If you have any questions, lay them out here and I’ll get back to them. Until then, good luck and see you at the tables.