Virtually every poker
“Life is but an endless series of experiments.”– Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
Mahatma Gandhi is considered the father of the Indian independence movement. He created the concept of non-violent protesting against injustices. Gandhi’s virtue, simplistic lifestyle and minimal dress endeared him to the people of India.
A brilliant young man, educated as a lawyer in England, he spent much of his life trying to better those of India’s poorest classes. Many civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., used Gandhi’s concept of non-violent protest as a model for their own struggles. His sayings are often quoted…Perhaps his most famous is: “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
Food for thought, but our purpose today is focusing on the headline quote and how it relates to the game of poker.
Defining experiment Virtually every poker
“An experiment is a methodical trial-and-error procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, falsifying, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis.” (Wikipedia)
Since poker is a microcosm, a miniature version of life, then experimentation as we often practice it also should apply to the game of poker. In a sense, virtually every poker hand dealt is an experiment of sorts.
You peek at the two hole cards. Based on their value, your betting position, the actions taken by opponents before you and your evaluation of them a decision is made to call, raise or fold. In making that choice, you have formed a hypothesis – a theory, premise or guess.
You cannot be certain it is the best decision in this case.Virtually every poker
In a lab experiment, the results are either positive (tending to proving the validity of your hypothesis) or negative (in which case, you must revise). You may conduct several replicates to confirm your findings.
There is one subtle difference in our poker experiment: Your hypothesis may be correct, but the results may not be what is hoped for. You lose the pot. What’s more, it is almost impossible to exactly replicate your poker experiment. There are just too many factors and variables, many of which are beyond your control.
In poker, our hypotheses must involve probability, chance or odds. In the long run if your hypothesis was correct, you will be a winner. So poker experiments must apply for the long term. Eventually (if you can wait long enough) you might know whether your hypothesis is correct.
Example: In a middle position, you are dealt K-Q offsuit in a limit hold’em game. One opponent before you calls to see the flop. Your hypothesis is that if deciding to raise, you will force out players with A-rag or a small pair so as to improve the chances of winning. In fact, an opponent behind you folds his pocket deuces and another throws in A-3 off suit.Virtually every poker
The flop puts a king on the board, matching your king in the hole. The turn is a deuce. Fortunately for you, the pocket deuces had folded. The river is an ace. Your pair of kings wins the pot. You conclude that your hypothesis was 100% correct. Your preflop raise made the difference between a winner and a loser.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. There will be times that the pocket deuces decide to call the raise. Your K-K is second best after a deuce falls on the turn. For that matter there will be times when you do not pair one of your big hole cards. An opponent who called to see the flop with 8 -7 suited has matched his 8 and beats your K-high.
Conclusion: Yes, poker is a form of experimentation, but who has the time and fortitude to wait for eons to verify each hypothesis? Not even Gandhi. My advice: Use your best judgment and pray to the poker gods to smile on you.