Posted by Dr Fro 11:46 AM
I ate dinner with Junell at Texadelphia a month ago, and two noteworthy things happened. The first one was that, in addition to a cheesesteak, he ate two bowls of queso - on his own. The second one was more surprising and more noteworthy - he had something interesting to say.
What he said was this:
"I've played a lot of poker, and it seems that most people I play with (sic) have most of the same skill sets. However, the thing that really separates the great ones - the ones that seem to consistently win - is the ability to make a really hard call on the end."
I have said this on this blog before: after you throw away your gambling ways and play a disciplined, EV-based approach, the next stage in the evolution of a poker player is mastering these three skills:
1- Making a tough lay down
2- Making a great bluff
3- Making a great call
Of the three, the third is the toughest skill. If it isn't the toughest, it sure seems to be (chronologically) the last skill mastered by a poker player. But it shouldn't be. Here is why.
Let's assume a pot of $100 and two players heads-up, each with $100. In all situations, imagine an all-in bet of $100 forcing the opponent to choose between calling $100 or folding.
1-Making a tough lay down: If you lay down, you are giving up appr. $50 in pot equity. That is pretty cheap. Also, since was are risk averse, we tend to give up on break-even or small +EV situations to protect our stack. This is what we do. It is easy to do. Plus, we get to pat ourselves on the back for being "disciplined". Oh yeah, and nobody will ridicule us for making a "stupid decision" since they will never see our cards. So, this decision is easy to make since there is not much apparent downside. If your sarcasm meeting needs tuning, I am being quite tongue in cheek about how brilliant this move is. More on this in a second.
2-Making a great bluff: You risk $100 hoping to win $100. You need to be right 1/2 the time. If you choose your spots wisely, you should be right more often than half the time. Easy play (when the right opportunity arises). Plus, there are all sorts of side benefits of advertising even if you do get caught with your hand in the cookie jar.
3-Making a great call: You risk $100 hoping to win $200. You need to be right 1/3 the time. If you choose your spots wisely, you should be right more often than one-third of the time.
Now let's contrast #2 and #3. All else equal, #3 should be easier to do since you have to be right way less often. Only in baseball can you make money being successful 34% of the time (i.e., batting .340). So, doesn't it seem that people should be much more willing to make a great call instead of a great bluff? You would think. Instead, they resign themselves to mucking their (otherwise winning?) hand and saying "good bet." Doesn't that make them feel good about their bad decision to fold? Good bet! Is it: You made me fold a better hand than yours - good bet! ? Or is it: You had a better hand than I did and you managed to make no more money out of it - good bet! ? Neither one makes any sense at all. Next time I hear "Good bet!" I am going to shout, "You suck!"
OK, now let's contrast #1 and #3. Obviously, these decisions are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. Thus, any time #3 is a good decision, then #1 is necessarily not. End of discussion.
I am not saying you should call every bet to you. What I am saying is that unless this is a key part of your game, you will not win money consistently.
Try it out. I bet you will be happy you did, and trust me, this is a good bet.