Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Impressive fold

Saturday was the last episode of this season of "High Stakes Poker." As always, there was plenty of good stuff. But what impressed me most was, of all things, a fold.

Watch this:

I suppose I might have been able to fold in that spot, but I certainly wouldn't have been able to do it so fast. Johnny Chan had not even announced an amount; he just said "raise" and Phil Laak flicked his cards into the muck. He had had a few seconds' warning that a raise was coming, because of how Chan was counting out chips, but it was still fast. I think I would have had to take time to ponder whether Chan would raise with, say, trip aces with a king kicker, or maybe K-10 for the Broadway straight.

In the long run, we all get dealt the same cards. You can't rely on getting better cards to be a winner in poker. Instead, you have to figure out (1) how to win more money than other people when you have the best hand, (2) how to win pots when you don't have the best hand, or (3) how to lose less when you don't have the best hand, or some combination of those three things. I have become convinced over the years that #3 is both the most important and the most difficult. It is the one that I think most definitively separates the long-term winners from the long-term losers.

Phil Laak seems to have that all figured out.

1 comment:

Alex said...

I'm working my way through the earlier episodes and just watched Laak fold AA and Duhamel QQ to that non-pros raise. Thought they were giving that guy way too much credit, especially in light of his earlier play. So I don't know if this was an example of a superior fold or extreme tightness.