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Sunday, March 13, 2005

Why my BJ knowledge is helpful in Poker

BJ and Poker are two completely different games. But BJ cardcounters usually know a lot about stats and the (mis)behavior of cards. This can be very helpful in Poker, too.

I'm just back from a night in a cardroom and this one is a goldmine. Never saw so many people playing virtually every unsuited nonpair pre-flop.
But guess: I lost $100 in 6 hours at a 10/20 game. It was just one of this nights were you only get crap. Like in BJ when you get stiff after stiff. Hit them and you bust, stay and of course the dealer refuses to bust.
Things like that happen and it looks like I am well prepared from my BJ times.
The upside of Poker: These nights are less expensive. Thanks to the blind structure you can fold most of these hands and even those were you are in the blind often allow you to see the flop "for free". The same evening at BJ could have easily generated a 10 times bigger loss.

The downside (and a word of caution): There are mathemathical rules in Poker similar to BJ. An A,A ist the best hand you can get pre-flop and has a worth similar to a 20 in BJ (that said you can lose both hands) and an unsuited nonpair is usually a very bad hand like a 16 in BJ (that said you can win both hands).
While BJ has fixed rules about hitting and staying there are times you correctly deviate from those basics in Poker. This is because you don't play against a dealer with set rules about hitting or staying. You play people that play more or less sophisticated. But there is a great danger (especially at bad nights) to deviate more then you should. When in doubt - stick with the math!

The rules of "standard deviation" and the "long run" apply for Poker, too. The only difference is that standard deviation depends on your style of play.
There is of course an average value that can be used but your personal standard deviation can vary heavily from this. For that reason it takes a lot of hours till you can be sure to be a winning player or not. And if your style of game changes you may have to re-calculate your personal standard deviation.

Keeping accurate records of your play is very important in Poker. I was used to do it in BJ so it isn't a problem for me but it seems that it isn't common knowledge in the poker community.


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