A short Mad Genius poker quiz that’s fair and easy

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was originally published (1993) in Cardplayer magazine under the title “A short Mad Genius poker quiz that’s easy to pass and fair”

Good morning. There are only two questions. Begin.

True or false.

1. You should never bet if you know you’ll always be called and you’ll lose more that 50 percent of the time.

2 You should be more willing to bet a medium-strong hand into an opponent who checked if that opponent never sandbags (i.e., checks and then raises after you bet)


1. False. Even if you’ll always be called and you’ll usually lose on the showdown, you might still consider betting. Sometimes by checking you end up calling the same hands you would have lost to by betting—a push. But by betting you sometimes win a bonus when your opponent calls with a weak hand he would have simply shown down if you’d checked. There’s a lot more to consider, but when you hold what might be the higher-ranking hand, you don’t decide whether to bet or check by guessing what percent of the time you’ll be called. You decide by contrasting two values: the value of checking against the value of betting. Sometimes you’re not a money favorite from this point on in the hand, no matter which you decide. Despite that, the size of the pot will dictate that you can’t fold. In that case, whichever offers the greater value (including the smaller loss) — checking or betting — is the choice you must make.

2. True. You should be more willing to bet a medium-strong hand if an opponent who checked doesn’t have a history of sandbagging. That’s because the player would have bet any very strong hand, so you can be called only by other medium-strong hands, (some of which you may beat) and by weaker hands (all of which you will beat).

With a known sandbagger, the situation is bleaker: You might be facing a powerful hand and lose double your bet when raised, assuming you choose to call.

Evaluating your score. In deciding how to score this quiz, I am swayed by the newest trend in America education. Being so swayed, I couldn’t sleep if any poker player who tried hard felt less accomplished than some other poker player who happened to score higher, for whatever ridiculous reason. Still, I do wish to suggest some extremes that may define excellence and failure. Sincerely hope you’ll find the following compromise fair. Award yourself one point for each question you got right. Evaluation: 3 or more points = good work; 0 to 2 points= really good work – you’re right there with your peers; fewer than 0 points = good work —you’re learning. — MC

Published by

Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.


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