Thursday, February 21, 2008


InertiaNat Arem had a post a couple of days ago in which he offered some ideas related to creating websites and marketing oneself over these here intertubes. The post looks to be the first part of series on the subject, and in this one he focuses particularly on “the idea” one is trying to sell, as well as how clients/consumers tend to behave in response to one’s idea.

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 7c9c4c. With my 4 showing, I was forced to bring-in. There was one caller (Jd), then a player with As showing completed (to fifty cents). I called, as did the other player. Fourth street brought me the 6c, giving me four to the flush, but also brought the Ah 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 8s and me the 3h, 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 Jc 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 2c9sAdQd. 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 TcThJs.

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 Kh, 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 6d 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 8sQsKs9c -- a lower straight. Then the other showed 6c6sQc8d. 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.

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Blogger OhCaptain said...

I think you didn't consider the razz hand correctly. You claimed that you played it because of inertia, but in fact you were making a very good read of the hands your oppenent was playing.

As a razz lover, people tend to play razz like hold'em. In hold'em, you try to capitalize when your hand is ahead and take the pot down before others improve. Sound hold'em strategy.

In razz how ever, its a drawing game. Sure, you might start perfect, but you are still drawing to a better hand.

You oppenents actions led you to believe he'd actually pair a card, and I agree. At that moment of realization, you are ahead, he drawing with a much steeper hill to climb.

Sound razz decisions are base not on the cards you have, but the cards you need. A23 in razz is a nice hand, but I'll take 754 any day. Sure, it starts out 7 low, but the A23 is only going to get worse.

Give yourself credit for thinking through the hand.

2/21/2008 7:52 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thx, OhCapt. Yes, I think inertia is what got me to fifth there (I really didn't need to be sticking around w/my crummy rough 8-draw), but once we got to sixth, yr right -- I did make the right read.

2/21/2008 9:24 PM  

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