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Evaluating Your Own Plays

To improve at most activities, a simple trial-and-error approach works well. For example, if you are playing basketball, you can improve your shooting through practice. When you make a basket, you pay attention to what you did with that shot. When you miss, you avoid what you believe caused you to miss.

This sort of trial-and-error method does not work as well with poker. In a poker game, the right move may actually cause you to lose money in any given hand because you might get unlucky. Also, the wrong move might end up working out because you get lucky.

Your Hand

In this example, there is $10 in the pot, and the bet is $8. Clearly, in this situation, you should fold. You do not have anywhere near the pot odds to call.

However, let's just say you call anyway. The turn is a miracle [[cards 9d]] and the river is a harmless [[cards 2d]]. You end up holding the nuts and win a big pot. Does this make your original call a good call?

No, it was clearly a mistake. However, this mistake ended up winning you a decent-sized pot. When looking back at your decision, you should not focus on the actual results of the hand. Instead, you must realize that in the long run, this type of decision will cause you to lose money.

Your Hand

In this example, there is $10 in the pot and someone goes all-in for $5. Everyone folds to you. You decide to call. The turn is a [[cards Qs]] and the river is a [[cards Kh]]. Your opponent flips over [[cards Ad Qd]] and takes down the pot.


You may be upset that you lost the hand, but you made the right decision. You are only contributing 1/4 of the pot, and you have a roughly 1/3 chance of hitting the straight. You have pot odds and should make the call.

When you evaluate your plays at the poker table, do not focus on whether the play resulted in a win for that given hand. Instead, consider if that move will be effective in the long run. In the end, the luck evens out and the players that make the best plays are the ones who end up with the most chips.

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