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Decision Oriented Poker

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Like many young players I became engrossed in poker almost immediately after watching Chris Moneymaker win the 2003 WSOP on ESPN. Just as I began playing the game, poker’s popularity soared throughout 2004 and now seems to have indicated that its new status in our popular culture will possess at least some degree of staying power.

Fresh into my new PartyPoker account, it took me a few steady months of losing (is seven still a few?) To realize that I could not even dream of becoming a winning player without approaching the game with a different attitude. Initially, I treated poker with the same semi-reckless vigor with which I had the sportsbook, blackjack or horse racing (maybe you’ve gathered that I like to bet a little bit) Situs Judi Slot Online.

Imagine how elated I was when I realized poker was different.

The “right” attitude in poker consists of being decision oriented. Most, if not all, other forms of gambling are solely results oriented for the simple reason that the concept of being decision oriented is either totally or almost totally impossible. We’ve all known the gambler who bet on a football game or a horse race and insists on telling us how he made the right play, but his horse got a bad trip or his team’s running back pulled a groin. These types of variables are the hallmarks of results oriented gambling. And if you think you can be decision oriented at the blackjack table, then you’re probably just not that smart.

The idea that a lifetime of playing poker, a “career” if you’re lucky, is really all only “one big game” has become cliche. But its tenets are the basis of the “right” attitude. Like most new players I initially seemed to take special delight in telling bad beat stories to anyone who would listen (likely even to those who hardly understood how to play). This kind of bad beat pessimism fit well with my personality.

Telling bad beat stories typifies the results oriented player (and often one who was only a 3 to 2 favorite).

“Can you believe I have sucked out with that?”

A good player who I respect (and also one who advanced through the marathon Day 1 of this year’s WSOP) explained the “right” attitude to me in a way that has resonated since.

He said, “If you had seen his cards before the flop you would have begged him to call.”

This statement could serve as the motto for the decision oriented player. The idea is simple. If you are putting your opponent in a position to “suck out” or “get lucky,” then you are wagering as a favorite. Getting your money in with the best hand means you will win more often than you will lose. This is decision oriented poker.

Base your analysis of your own play on the correctness of the decisions you make and your results should improve. If they don’t, there are a lot worse things in life than a beer and a blackjack table.

Justin Williams is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League.

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