So what is this game all about? In short it is a game of making the right decision with imperfect information and has little to do with your cards or for that matter Luck. In many ways it is a game that closely resembles something we are all familiar with…. Life. As you go about your life the basic conscious objective is to make decisions in self-interest while being limited by resources. For the uninitiated here’s how the game is played- 2 cards are dealt face down to each player followed by exposing 5 community cards face up that are available to everyone to improve their hands. The objective is to make the best combination of 5 cards from a total of 7 available cards (2 dealt to the player and 5 for the community). The dangerous aspect of the game is the innocuous ‘no limit’ part-this means that there is no upper limit to the amount that one can wager at any point when the hand is being played out. This is the challenge that makes the game alluring and intriguing, for the money that can be won and more importantly, for being able to figure out how to consistently make the right decision without regard to the outcome – win or loss. Confused? If something has a 90% probability of happening then 10% of the time there will be an adverse outcome. That’s called a bad beat not a bad decision.
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This is a social game where bluffing and banter are par for the course. Reading your opponent based on their exhibited actions and facial expressions are crucial. I use the same skills I have learnt at the poker table to any negotiations at work. I know not to believe someone making an assurance followed by a gulp and signs of nervousness. No wonder FBI agents have written books on how to read and extract poker tells through interrogation strategies.
For many of us the grind continues. Let me leave you with a bad beat story. Villian 1 is the first person to act and is short stacked. He pushes all-in pre flop (before the community cards are exposed). It is folded around to me in mid position and I look down at AA. I call the all-in for about 30% of my stack. The action fold around to the last to act – Villian 2. He goes all-in over the top now costing me another 25% of my stack. I naturally call. With 2 players all in, the villians reveal their card. Villian 1 holds 66 and Villian 2 holds KK. The 3 rd card is a 6 giving Villain 1 a clear lead with 3 of a kind. Then the 5th card is a K giving Villian 2 the win. No wonder the outlaw Wild Bill Hickok was killed playing poker.
BY ARIJIT GHOSHAL