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Managing Luck In Poker

Poker is often considered a game of luck, like so many other forms of gambling. While luck does play a factor, skill also comes into play. If you think that might not be the case, consider blackjack and the team of MIT students who developed a mathematical system that gave them somewhere in the neighbor hood of a 40% odds on favorite. They cleaned house at the casinos…until the casinos caught on, of course.

Poker is much more a game of skill than luck, but that certainly does not mean that luck is not part of the equation. Especially in No Limit Texas Hold’em, when two or more players put all their money in the pot pre flop and wait to see what cards will turn over; that is certainly luck in action; but luck, in poker, is just a convenient idea for what is really statistics.

When a player is on a lucky streak it seems like he is catching every card he needs at the right time to cleanup all the chips. What is actually happening is he has caught a run of random statistical events that favor him; in the end it is the same thing as saying “he got lucky” but the point is it is something a poker player needs to be aware of.

When you hear of someone running hot or cold, or have experienced it yourself, it is not superstition and it is not something to dismiss. Looking over the long term, how often you catch the cards you need, or how often you get dealt only rags, is part of a long statistical line of events. It happens, and mathematicians and statisticians have proven it. Part of your job as a good poker player is to recognize when you are in one of these bubbles of “luck”, good or bad, and act accordingly. Whey you are running hot it is reasonable to take more chances than otherwise, and when you have a night when you can’t get a pocket pair to save your life, consider getting a good nights sleep and trying again the next day. Manage your luck, or your luck will manage you.

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