Saturday, May 22, 2010

Making Calls: The Individual Challenge of Poker

There are some people who think that poker can be played from a purely mathematical perspective, and that it can be beaten. There are even those who have gone so far as attempting to program software that tells people playing at casinos like Caesars Online the best moves to make. While there is a massive mathematical aspect to poker, this is not the limit of the game. There won't always be a right answer in every situation, and if you're constantly trusting the feedback of math and software, you're bound to lose.
In poker, making a call or not is really your call. Because of the strong psychological element to the game, you will be required to stay aware of your opponents as they play through hand after hand. Learning how other players play the game will allow you to make predictions about what their moves actually mean within the context of a hand.

Take, for example, the prediction of a bluff. The pot odds of a player who raises twice the pot size against you will almost always be terrible. However, if that player has shown frequent bluffs and you think that you're reading that person right, sometimes the best thing you can do is make that call. Even if the math speaks against it, trusting your gut and analyzing the other players is a major key to the game.

You will also need to make predictions about how opposing players will act, and no software can accurately tell you when it's a good time to try to bluff opponents. If you think an opponent has you misread, or if you've worked on developing a tight player persona, your options are far different from someone who has been making risky moves all night, no matter what the math might say.

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