I just looked at buying a quad-plex in Las Vegas so that Kat, Comrade Vape and I could form a little poker commune. We want to be within two miles of the office (the Strip) so that pretty much means we are going to be in a neighborhood that would be improved by a bulldozer.
We went and visited the place and the owner showed up at the tour. I am sure this was against the advice of the seller’s agent because this landlord was super sketchy. That is an occupational hazard of selling rental property in Las Vegas, your sellers are often super sketchy.
The occupational hazard of being a poker professional is that you attract the unluckiest people in the world. One of my first clients was from California and his story is reconstructed below.
“Hi Doug, I need to know how to play given the fact that I am unlucky. I have been tracking for four years and I get less than half as many pocket pairs as I should. When I come to the casino, people change tables so they can be at my table because statistically they get more pocket pairs and they know I get less. I know this is true because my opponents know me and tell me ‘I am the unluckiest person they have ever seen.’ What can we do?”
I “fired” him as a client after the second session. He would not let this idea go: “There is just a dark cloud over my head and I need to learn how to deal with it.” I spent most of the second session showing him a simple statistical model that showed that he would literally need to be the unluckiest player among a billion players if his story was true. He insisted he was, so I walked away.
Occam’s razor says there is a simpler explanation: He is terrible at poker and his opponents wisely encourage this world-view.
Now, as a more seasoned poker coach, I think I could work with a person like this. I could “teach him how to play through his bad luck” and eventually as he gets better at poker he would come to “get luckier”.
This California guy was an extreme example, but I get lesser versions of this thinking quite frequently. I was playing recently and a student showed up at the same table. Kind of a free demonstration of what it is I do. We are taking a break and he tells me how lucky I am. “Doug, you always have a hand when they call you down for a big pot.”
How did that happen?
There were bet sizing tells and betting patterns that allowed me to maximize those times when I was ahead. It might be overbetting and shoving when I flop a miracle straight and the opponent clearly has an overpair he is going with. It might be knowing I can go for thin value with middle pair on a different board texture. It might be knowing I have Villain’s out-kicked and getting stacks in with large bets because they can not fold top pair against me.
Overall this happens because of a fundamental misunderstanding my opponents have:
Doug raises “all the time” (pre-flop) so he must be bluffing (post flop).
Again: “Doug, you always have a hand when they call you down for a big pot.”
Well, yeah, that is the point.
Even though he witnessed the entire session, he only “saw” the “coolers” where I had a better hand. What he “did not see” was the times I won the pot without showdown or folded an inferior hand without much fanfare.
The table folded a ton when I pressured their weak ranges. He never saw my holdings then, but if he did, he would have seen a variety of 7 high gut-shots, middle pairs turned into bluffs, three straight three-flushes that caught good bluffing cards. (PRO members can access Doug’s video on this topic.) He’d see check-raises on the turn with open-enders, and bet sizing tells from the Villain that allowed me to run them over.
What else did he not see?
He did not see me quietly giving up on a bunch of tempting middle-strength hands. He did not see me declining to c-bet on boards where the range advantage was with the opponent. He did not see me declining to “bet when I was ahead” on boards where the run-out was going to be miserable for my one pair hand.
This student mentioned that Tim Acker is lucky too. Just like me, he always has it at the big showdowns.
We must me the two luckiest guys in the Mirage poker room. We should try roulette.