The quote above is by Ian Stewart, the British mathematician, and I thought it really fitted what I wanted to talk about today, and poker in general. One of the beauties of writing about poker and one of the main motivators for me in doing that mostly thankless task, is that it makes you think about your own game, giving rise to revelations from the Poker Gods you may otherwise miss whilst checking, raising and putting in the semi-bluffs. Often these can come from the action of putting metaphoric pen to paper, sometimes, as in this case, from a comment or statement from another player - btw I’d really like to thank all the commentators so far...please check out the great comments and keep on posting; remember "hits make BDD happy!" :-)
The comment in question was from my dear Internet pal, Aksu. On the post about my plo8b pass he said he did not like it. In true Sklansky fashion, he didn't actually say why (I could almost see a "I will leave it to others to elaborate" tagged on the end :-) As I have a lot of respect for Aksu's play, this got me thinking. I felt my gut feel, my read of the situation, then and now was correct. But what about the math? The math is easy, and quite horrified me. I need to be at least 66% certain that I'm being 3/4d to make the pass. Let's call that 70% (how can you judge 4%!). That is a hell of a lot of certainty. Considering how long I thought about it at the time, I must have only been maybe 80% sure at best. The decision is basically irrelevant.
It struck me that many poker decisions, which we often think are reads, or gut plays, or psychology, are either underpinned or overwritten by simple mathematical necessity. Some examples are drawing on the turn in pot limit Omaha when you feel you are up against a made hand; calling an allin bet in no-limit holdem or even making a river bet in limit holdem; my hand and of course the hand I describe that Vlad played too. It seems more glamourous to go on our instincts, to have the "certainty" of "looking into the soul" of our opponent. But maybe we should also be adjusting our slide rules and calculating how God plays dice.
(I’ve now decided that what I SHOULD have done in the hand in question is toss my foe 10 pounds and at the same time muck my hand immediately, thanking him for saving me money :-)