Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was originally published (1993) in Card Player magazine under the title “Important poker tips that have been thoroughly shuffled”
Sometimes I carefully select my poker advice, sort it logically, arrange it in numbered lists, and present it to you with pride. Sometimes I don’t.
Today, I used my computer to attach a tip to each of the 52 cards in a standard deck. A second ago, I told that computer to shuffle and deal, and here come five cards…
Four of clubs means: It’s often wrong to bet a hand that has only a small advantage if your bankroll isn’t large. Aggressive betting increases your hourly fluctuations and dramatically elevates your chance of going broke without significantly increasing what you expect to earn. If, however, the psychological impact of a bet increases your chances of winning hands later, it may still make sense.
Queen of clubs means: On the flop in hold’em, when there are at least four callers, high cards are even more likely to help somebody than you might think. How come? It’s because there are a finite number of each high rank and, as players call, subsequent callers are more apt to cover the missing ranks. That’s why it’s difficult to bluff profitably against three or more weak opponents when the flop has two cards ranking jack or higher.
Four of spades means: Learning how to play poker is stage one. Using this knowledge to win consistently is stage two. Most players never reach stage two. They don’t think bad streaks are supposed to happen. Frustration ruins their judgment. I teach both (1) How to play correctly when you want to, and (2) How to want to.
Queen of diamonds means: You’ve heard me warn against raising “to thin the field.” Too often this tactic is unprofitable because when you have a strong hand, you usually make more money letting many opponents try to draw out on you—although you don’t win as many pots. However, while the objective of thinning the field is usually wrong, the result of the effort is often right! For one thing, the bettor often fails to thin the field, but wins extra bets by trying. For another, the bettor might thin the field in stages until all players fold on the final round. Although thinning the field is not usually a good objective, eliminating the field is.
Four of hearts means: We made a full house! Damn it! Now how am I supposed to convince you the deal was random? I feel like those surveyors who first measured Mount Everest. They came up with exactly 29,000 feet, then added a few feet so folks wouldn’t think it was an estimate! Maybe I should change today’s cards so you won’t think I selected them. Talk about an ethical dilemma! I’ll let you know what I decide.
Anyway, the tip is to seldom bet a medium-strong hand into an opponent who bluffs too often. You’ll make more money checking and calling, taking advantage of that opponent’s tendency to overbluff. — MC