When to Play - When to Play Brett N. Steenbarger, Ph.D.

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When to Play Brett N. Steenbarger, Ph.D. www.brettsteenbarger.com In a game of Texas Hold’em, each player receives two cards initially. Then the betting begins. After that round, the dealer uncovers a set of three cards. These cards, called the flop, are available for use by all players to create the strongest possible hand. Then another round of betting commences. Next, for all who decide to stay in the game, a single card—the turn—is uncovered. This, too, is available to all players. After yet another round of betting, the final communal card—the river—is turned over. At that point, there is a showdown and the strongest hand takes the pot. One of the cardinal skills of Texas Hold’em is the decision of when to play and not play. Do you fold, do you call, or do you raise? All you see initially are the two pocket cards. You have no idea of the cards held by the other players or the cards you might be able to use from the flop, turn, and river. All you can do is try to assess your odds and the competition. The player who has done his research knows that, in an eight hour poker game where 35 games per hour are played, the number of times he will be dealt an unsuited Ace, King will average between three and four. Those are rare, good pocket cards and you have to play them. Conversely, a low, nonconsecutive, unsuited hand gives little in the way of odds and, in a game with ten other strong players, you would be wise to fold and wait for something better. Traders face the same question of when to play.
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This note was uploaded on 10/21/2010 for the course BUSINESS 19450 taught by Professor Goldberg during the Fall '10 term at Saddleback.

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When to Play - When to Play Brett N. Steenbarger, Ph.D.

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