The Psychology of Poker Calculators - Part 1
Poker calculators are handy tools for online play that give you (at the very least) accurate pot odds to know if you should be in a hand in the first place, but also ...
You're down fifty-six bucks. It's only been 40 minutes at a 2/4 hold'em, online table where you were determined from the start to play smart, aggressive poker. It's Friday night and you know the competition is going to solid. You have been watching all the players and now have 4 of them pegged, while two others have just joined, and the other 3 are have been mixing it up good, playing a lot of pots.
You made one mistake earlier, not knowing a "rock" had the goods, when you tried to buy a pot with a check-raise on the turn, on the come, to a draw that of course, never came. You consider your busted play, and then justify it as an investment for another hand. The rest of your losses all came while seeing cheap flops in late position, except that once, when the small blind raised you, and then it came back around. You knew you had to call just for pot odds sake. The flops have not been hitting you yet.
Oh my Poker God, does this sound like me a thousand times? Yes, quite. Here's the thing. A lot of times when you're in a hand you shouldn't have been, you try and justify how you lost the hand. It's a natural human tendency to do this, and poker players know this all too well. The truth is, you looked at a KQos from early position and then had to answer a raise from the unpredictable player two seats down. You thought it was a good move, but you are heads up with KQos, he has position on you and the flop comes Ks 9s 2h. You have hit top pair and want to show him the flop hit you. You bet. He calls. 2h turned. That didn't help him, and you really want him to fold now so put out your 4 bucks, and then, the worst thing happens, he raises. Now you know you're screwed. He has AK or AA, maybe even a boat, but he may just be trying to buy this. Not only that, those pot odds demand you to call. You do, knowing you are going to check the river, and have to call one more bet to see his AK suited. Herein lays the value of a tool you can use on your computer, called a poker calculator.
Poker calculators are handy tools for online play that give you (at the very least) accurate pot odds to know if you should be in a hand in the first place, but also to offer the right advice for checking, folding, or betting in any given situation. Now consider this - the right advice from a poker calculator is actually the mathematically correct decision. As all experienced poker players will tell you, that is just part of the equation. There is absolutely no guarantee that a persistent maniac doesn't have your two pair DEAD-TO-RIGHT with a made straight. That's the intellectual part of the game. But poker is a game that persistently challenges not only your intellect, but your emotions as well. What may be surprising to you is that a poker calculator can help you check your emotions.
That may be surprising to some, because a poker calculator is an inherently mathematical odds gadget, which would seemingly help you in certain hands - as well it does. But what it does even better is keep you out of the money losing hands in the first place. Take that KQos for example. I have tested a lot of the online calculators, and there isn't one of them that advises you to come in for a raise, early position. Those cards look good, especially at a loose table, against foolish opponents, but it is absolutely a hand to play in position, with aggression, and not early with weakness where a negative EV is guaranteed.
Sometimes it is hard to look at hands and lay them down. But it's much easier to fold when your online poker calculator is flashing bright bold warning colors at you, reminding you how much -EV your hand has. This is especially crucial when you have just won or lost a hand or two previously, because at that point it's much more likely you will play your current hand as a result of previous hands. You may recognize that description as being on tilt. Now if you had a piece of advice to prevent you from tilting twice, three, or even 6 times during a session, wouldn't you call that valuable psychological help?
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