Interesting stuff, but really I just wanted to quote his conclusion in which he recommends (in bold) to “Get inside the minds of your users and never forget that you’re fighting irrational levels of inertia.”
Nat’s point about human nature -- about how we tend as a species to resist anything different or unfamiliar -- has wide-ranging application. Will probably play some role in the 2008 Presidential election in November, I’d imagine. Has fairly obvious application to what happens at the poker tables, as well.
Was playing my usual H.O.R.S.E. game yesterday ($0.50/$1.00). Am doing okay; nothing too spectacular, though (making about a big bet per 100, on average). Still feel like Omaha/8 is my weakest link, but I continue to compile data to try to get a better idea. After each session, I’m recording how I’ve done in each of the five games. Once I get a decent sample together, I’ll share what I’ve found.
Yesterday I experienced several instances of players -- including myself -- exhibiting “irrational levels of intertia.” You know where I’m going here. I’m talking about the never-folds. The guys who cannot let a hand go once they’ve put that first chip in the middle. In H.O.R.S.E., the phenomenon is particularly obvious in the three stud games (Razz, Stud, Stud/8). You’d think the key moment (or “inflection point,” as Harrington says in another context) would usually be on fifth street, when the bets double. But in reality, it is fourth street -- or even third -- where a lot of players seem to commit to going all the way.
As I say, I, too, am guilty of this “irrational” unwillingness to stop calling from time to time. Here are a couple of examples showing me demonstrating such tendencies, then one more showing someone else doing so.
The first example is a Stud hand where I was dealt . With my 4 showing, I was forced to bring-in. There was one caller (), then a player with showing completed (to fifty cents). I called, as did the other player. Fourth street brought me the , giving me four to the flush, but also brought the to the fellow who’d completed. With his pair of aces showing, a double bet (of $1) was allowed, but he chose just to bet fifty cents. The other player folded and I called. The pot was now $2.50.
Fifth street brought him the and me the , and he bet ($1). I have good odds here, actually. It’s 3.5-to-1 to call, and, in fact, four to a flush on fifth street is a 1.75-to-1 shot to hit. (Of course, I could be drawing dead.) Not really thinking of any of that, though -- my interia ain’t letting me even consider letting this one go. So I call, and a nicely arrives on 6th street. End up getting three more big bets out of my opponent. He’d made three aces by 4th street, but failed to fill up.
“Good for you,” he types afterward. Then adds, “Just don’t leave.” I didn’t bother to defend myself.
A little later had a Razz hand where I again let inertia take over. This time I’d made a “rough” 8 by fifth street. In fact, it was as rough as it gets: 8-7-6-5-4. Meanwhile, my opponent, who’d raised on third and had been leading the whole way, had 3-2-4 showing. I called his fifth street bet, though. The pot was relatively big -- $5.25 when I put my buck in on fifth -- and I found it hard to let go. Then sixth street brought us both jacks. He bet out again. I decided it possible he’d paired one of those low cards and so now only had a jack-high. Of course, a more likely explanation for that read were those “irrational levels of inertia” guiding my behavior . . . .
Whatever the cause, I decided to raise. When he just called, I knew I was right, though of course I still had to dodge seventh street. I did, and ended up winning a ten-dollar pot. Got a comment again from my opponent: “terrible.” He might have been right.
My last example also shows me in a less than favorable light, though I think someone else provides a better illustration of Nat’s principle. It’s an Omaha/8 hand, and I was in late position with . An ace and a deuce, and single-suited. Playable, I guess, though that nine kind of kills the hand, really. I limped in with three others, and the flop came .
I was last to act, and all three checked to me. I decided to bet, expecting anyone with a ten (or full boat) to call me, in which case I’d be done with the hand. Two players did call. The turn was the , giving me Broadway. Again, both checked (kind of quickly). Maybe I’m good here? I bet again. Again, both players called.
The river was the and both players again checked. Well, now I must be good. I bet again, and again both players just called. Talk about inertia. What could they have?
Turned out neither had a ten at all. One mucked -- a lower straight. Then the other showed . Wha? He’d rivered one of the two sixes to make the baby boat.
How could he have called that flop? And turn?
Nat has the answer.