We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
There are many people who hate math but are great poker players, but there are hardly any players who lack the people reading abilities and still manage to be good poker players,” said Vonk. “Mathematical knowledge can to a large extent be replaced by intuition and experience. After a player has played a million hands of poker, even if he does not know the math at all, he will have a decent feeling about when it is profitable to draw to a flush and when it is not.”
That said, knowing the math means you can acquire this kind of knowledge much more quickly, and those skills can give an edge in very rare situations that don’t often occur in a poker game. “To be a great player, you need both!”
Knowing the odds pays off more than knowing anything else.
I've got my style of play down cold, now, after years of working on it. I've learned which types of players to deal with warily (those who bid up pots right at the start, before the flop or perhaps just after an ugly flop, represent people who are typically trying to 'buy' a pot...if you don't have the cards, take your loss and move on, don't give them anything to work with. If you do, make them pay to stay in), and who you can do some bluffing with.
Bluffs very rarely pay off. There are moments when they can. If you just won a huge pot, people tend to think you're getting hot cards. You may not be, but it's human nature to believe it. I play stronger after I've won a large pot, and it works.
But you muck so many hands, and many of them can be winners. I once finished 12th out of 90 (in the money), but mucked 5 hands that could've been big winners if I'd stuck around. You can't focus on that. You have to move on to the next hand.
I like poker because it is the ultimate game for 'seeking alpha'. Wall Streeters are notoriously good poker players. A friend of mine at a hedge fund must take part in a monthly poker tournament in-house in order to 'keep his edge'. He claims he can't win because he's up against statisticians. I point out their knowledge is powerful and gives them an edge, but if he learns how they bet, he can beat them with a few well-timed bluffs, or even soft re-raises on mediocre cards (it's amazing how often people fold on a re-raise).
But, in the end, as James Bond once said, "you don't play your cards, you play their cards." You have to know how strong your hand is, and if you don't, or you question it, then don't bet.
It's luck. To assert otherwise is a vain attempt to take credit for chance, nothing more. (and yes, I did quite well @ stats - the math in the link supporting "skill" relies on more than a few assumptions...)
I once left a tournament early. My friends were stunned, I simply said "I didn't get the cards." It's true, that happens sometimes. But as another person pointed out "If all you did was wait for the right cards, then you didn't play your opponents well."
I knew what he meant, and spent a great deal of time continuing to hone my play. There is a tendency, particularly early on, to want to play every hand. If it were simply luck, then you should play every hand.
Fact is, knowing what your odds are gives you a tremendous edge over those who are just hoping for a lucky flop or a fortuitous river card.
I've had gut-shot straights on the flop that I've folded because I could see flushes and full houses developing. You can wind up spending too much money to keep playing only to find yourself losing to what was obvious early on.
I saw a fellow lose, on the first hand, with two pair. How he missed the obvious flush and full house that was playing out is beyond me. I guess he was relying on the 'luck' theory...
On the other hand, I once had my table practically cleared on the first deal when somebody pulled a full house, another had a flush, another had 4 of a kind while another hand a higher 4 of a kind. At that single point in time, you're absolutely right - luck played the primary role in determining the winner. Each person played out his hand assuming he had the strongest one, thinking the odds of something better were astronomically outlandish.
The odds WERE astronomically outlandish - but they happened to be there. Such is the thing known as "The Black Swan", where outlandish probability becomes reality. Yes, that's pure luck.
But on a hand by hand basis, over time, with knowledge (and an increasing/improved knowledge of how your opponent plays), you improve your chance of winning.
My last tournament ended when I took out the guy who'd been stealing my pots all night. The guy was an aggressive bettor who, no doubt, bluffed me out of at least 3 hands. But my hands were weak, the pots weren't deadly, and I was willing to walk away. On the final hand, he took this to a dangerous conclusion. He felt that his bluffs had won often enough against me, that he could do it one last time. This time, however, I was willing to play, because I knew something he didn't - I'd gotten a full house on the flop.
It should've been obvious to him, but he chose to ignore it. Skill does play a huge role.
Perhaps because as a child I didn't have a good track record playing poker with my father and my siblings, I didn't play much poker as an adult. The only time I played in the last 40 years, I won about $5 on the rig in the Guatemalan jungle.
I didn't let that get to my head.
I would imagine that knowing the mathematical odds would help playing. Vegas casinos ban blackjack players who win on a consistent basis on the excuse that counting cards is a mortal sin. Which it is for the casino cash flow.
I have counted cards, and it works very well particularly in a single deck blackjack game (which you can find almost anywhere, but you can't get rich because the bets are low and play is slow).
I've counted into multiple deck shoes before, too. But by the second hour, the speed of play and the constant calculations gave me a massive headache and I eventually gave it up and focused on the simple principles. The gains, unless you're willing to bet heavily, are very slim.
If you've ever read "Bringing Down The House", the true story of a team of counters, you can get the idea. You really need a team to make it work effectively. And that leaves you exposed.
Doing it on your own, unless you're extremely aggressive AND talented, is difficult and not worth the time.
Well it depends. Some people are lucky. Simple as that they win at poker they win in other aspects of their life and they are just lucky. Some people are bold and lucky; damned hard to beat them. I know the math, I know the game I'm just too cheap and afraid to lose to play agressively, so it's more then understanding the game. A really good poker player would probably be a really good fighter pilot especially in WW II machines where the technology is low but the pilot was 90% of the equation. A good poker player could be a good CEO or he could bankrupt the company. I can respect and appreciate a good poker player but I would not become his partner in a business venture or even go hunting with him. But to hang out and have a drink and tell stories they can't be beat.