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I learned this new poker thing

  1. Aug 6, 2005 #1
    So, I learned this new poker thing a year ago. Long story short, I'm sure I can money playing it. The only thing I'm concerned with is the morality of the game. What do you think? Bad? Good? Neither? I'm Christian, but I really don't think the Bible says anything about it. If you're atheist then I guess the game isn't "bad" because if someone doesn't know how to play they will lose their money no matter what...to you or someone else. Any advice would be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 6, 2005 #2
    don't get into gambling. That's my advice.
  4. Aug 6, 2005 #3
    Don't play poker for the sake of gambling, play poker because it's a helluva fun game.
  5. Aug 6, 2005 #4


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    Good advice.
  6. Aug 6, 2005 #5
    Poker is fun but that's not really why I play it, I mostly play it for the money.

    A bit of a background: I'm a math guy. For some reason, math is actually fun for me and I'm pretty good at it. I'm taking calc 4 in the fall and looking forward to it..might also get a math minor.

    Poker is nothing but drawing cards from a deck which is basically probability. I'm not a guy who would just go throw his money away without knowing where it's going so I made sure I understand what I'm doing before I played poker for real money. I've played about 20,000 hands so far and made a good amount of money, so I am pretty sure I can make a bit of money doing this.

    I guess poker can't escape from being classified as "Gambling" because it's actually risking money to get more money based solely on chance. However, unlike most other forms of gambling, you can give yourself an edge. I don't know of any other gambling game where you can give yourself an edge (blackjack, roulette, etc...all favor the house mathematically). You might say that there are two important unknown variables in poker (opponents' cards and opponents' future actions) and without knowing those you can't give yourself an edge. But, opponents' cards can also be taken care of using probability and opponents' future actions are usually unkown but the edge you give yourself using math takes care of that and then some. Also, I don't play the poker you see on tv where a guy can get lucky and double up or get unlucky and lose. I play limit (every bet is a fixed amount) where the math factor is a lot more important and basically takes over the game in the long run.

    The problem is, I thought a bit about the concept of poker and it's basically just taking money from other people because you know more than they do. That's it...no more...no less. I feel bad sometimes when I take money from guys who are just throwing their money away and really don't know what they're doing. Pretty much all other jobs are getting money in an exchange for a service you give, but poker just isn't like that. I can't say that it's easy or that it's "making money the easy way", since if you really know what you're doing and are making enough money it won't be easy. I am not planning to play poker for a living or anything like that but just until I finish college, it could make for a good hobby.
  7. Aug 6, 2005 #6
    Fine don't take my advice. But don't expect me to let you move back in when you're 40 and bankrupt with no degree because you dropped out of school because of a drug addiction and owed money to gangs for gambling away money you don't have!
  8. Aug 6, 2005 #7
    Are you implying that Atheists do not care about morals? I would ask your minister about the christian morality view.
  9. Aug 6, 2005 #8
    Ha! I can assure you that's not gonna happen.

    My bad :shy: That's not what I meant at all. I shouldn't have brought religion into this in the first place. Please ignore the religion part.
  10. Aug 7, 2005 #9


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    Poker's not gambling unless you suck.

    I've played poker 10-20 hrs/week (including live and online) for a year now and I've never had a losing week.

    I've never had a job, and have already made enough money to pay for my first two and a half years of university. I plan to get the third year "paid off" (money in my bank) by Christmas. My fourth year money will be completed by this time next year or sooner. So I will have all the money I need for my undergrad degree before I turn 19, all because of poker. Is poker gambling? Not for me it isn't.
  11. Aug 7, 2005 #10
    Great! Would you please teach me about the poker? It is the first time to hear of it. Why every guy win, nobody lost momey? It is amazing
  12. Aug 7, 2005 #11


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    Go play. Soon enough you'll either become a decently wealthy card shark or wind up broke. Remember, for every successful poker player, theres probably a few hundred who failed and the math behind the game isnt exactly hard to grasp.
  13. Aug 7, 2005 #12
    Only people who aren't good at poker see it as a game of probability. Poker is a game of skill. It's not the cards that empower the player, but the player that empowers the cards.
  14. Aug 7, 2005 #13


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    And thats the problem. Most people think they got one hell of a poker face when in fact there read like a book.
  15. Aug 7, 2005 #14
    Lets do some Math:
    You're in Victoria, probably going to UVic, which means you're tuition will be about $4,300 per semester.
    $4,300 x 2 = $8,600 per year tuition.
    $8,600 x 2.5 = $21,500 you claim to have saved for college this year. How much more did you make that didnt go towards your university fund?
    $21,500 / 48 = $448 per week
    $448 / 10 = $45
    $448 / 20 = $23
    You're making $23 to $45 an hour. 10-20 hours a week.

    Well, you're certainly doing well. :rolleyes:
  16. Aug 7, 2005 #15
    I can't tell if you're agreeing or challenging.
  17. Aug 7, 2005 #16


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    Agreeing. Its true (well, less so for limit hold em) that a big part of the game on the more advanced levels is figuring out what the other person has without... well.. knowing what he has. You also need to convince the person that you may have cards that you don't really have.
  18. Aug 7, 2005 #17


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    Famous last words.

    The house always wins, unless you're talking about "friendly" games with "the guys," in which case, do you really have to ask about the morality of supporting yourself off your "friends'" losses when you know they aren't at the same skill level as you are?

    This is very much how gambling addictions start. You do well at the low-stakes games, gain confidence that you always win, that you can make money gambling, then you move up to higher stakes games because of the lure of higher winnings, but as you do that, you're also playing more skillful players who, just like you, have moved up to a higher level because they felt invicible when playing against less skilled players. Then you lose a few games, but you're so confident you can just win it back, so you keep playing, keep losing, maybe you win a few here and there, just enough to keep the excitement up and to make you think you can just reverse that turn of bad luck as you sink deeper into debt.
  19. Aug 7, 2005 #18
    It doesn't matter how much math you use, it is bound to backfire on you. Math is only 30% of the game, the rest is luck and pscychology. A lot of people who play can do the math, but don't end up winning. I can't count the number of times I have gotten burned on the river card when the guy I was up against had about 2/45 chance of pullling the card he needed on the river. Only a handful of people in the world can constantly play poker and in the long run make profit.
  20. Aug 7, 2005 #19


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    "Everything you do in life is a gamble. Poker just has bad odds." - Me

    The key to gambling is "Risk Management". For example, before purchasing a house you research the area, find out the assessed value, how much the previous owner(s) payed, etc. You then make a concious decesion as to the risk you'll be taking by purchasing the house. Will the value of the house appreciate or depreciate? By how much do you expect the value of the house to change? Are you better off renting? Should you turn around and resell the house? There are many questions you ask yourself in assessing risk. If you don't ask yourself these questions then your dumb.

    Risk management can also be applied to poker. By using card counting techniques you can increase your odds of winning. But then you also have to take into acccount the possiblity of being barred from casinos and thrown in jail. Again, you factor in all the risk before making a concious decision to invest in the game. It just happens that poker can be more risky then other activities.

    In conclusion, you can't compare gambling with morality. Only your actions can be right or wrong.
  21. Aug 7, 2005 #20
    First off, let me give some replies:

    Poker IS gambling...you can't escape it. The only thing that doesn't make it like other forms of gambling is that you can have a POSITIVE expectation.

    If you think you can go on living your life and relying on poker as your only source of income you're probably wrong. You won't be making $20/hr with health benefits, insurance, etc...playing poker.

    I liked that one :biggrin:. I already told you I don't play the poker you see on tv where math completely goes down the drain. I play in the small stakes LIMIT games where there's ALWAYS a showdown and you can't get people to fold. One good example is Doyle Brunson who won the WSOP two times with 10 2...if I played hands like that in my games I'd go broke pretty quickly. Play a few thousand hands and try to empower hands like 10 2 offsuit then tell me how well you do.

    I'm not playing against the house. In a game like roulette where people play against the house, the house gives itself a mathematical advantage so that in the long run the math ends up favoring the house and it makes money. The house also makes money when people play poker (against each other) but it's very possible for the both the house and the players (not all of them obviously) win at the same time because the house just takes a percentage of the winnings, it doesn't care who wins or loses. In games like texasholdem, there are two winners: the house and the players who make the fewest mistakes on their table (they could be making a lot of mistakes, but as long as other players are making more mistakes, the odds favor the ones who make the least number of mistakes).

    This is 100% true and I've thought about this before. If everyone plays perfectly, only the house would win. The trick is not moving up. It's finding the highest beatable limit (online) and then just playing more tables.

    That's interesting since at lot of the guys I knew in college were playing online poker while I was learning (they got me into it). I learned the math and made a small (10 lines or so) program to help me calculate stuff faster. After I started playing, I asked them whether they use math or not when they play. Not a single person said they used it...maybe they CAN do the math, but they don't do it. Also, what exactly is "luck"? If you have a 20% chance of hitting a card and you hit it...you didn't get lucky...you just hit a card that you expect to hit once every 5 times on average. It's deffinately a right move to chase that card if you're getting paid off to do it. If you don't chase it because you'll miss more often than not, you aren't playing right.

    First, can you count the number of times someone chased a 2/45 chance, missed, and you ended up winning the hand?
    Second, if you're playing with guys who chase a 2/45 chance and aren't making money then there's something wrong with YOUR play. People who make mistakes are exactly how money is made in those games...if you played with people who DIDN'T make mistakes you'd lose no matter what (in the long run).

    Mind explaining how poker has bad odds?
    Let me give an example:
    Say we're playing a game where you have a basket with 3 balls in it. 2 black balls and one white ball. The rules are this: you pick a ball randomly and if you pick a black ball, you give me $1. If you pick the white ball, I give you $3. On average, every three picks you will pick a black ball twice and a white ball once. Therefore, you will lose $2 and gain $3 or you will gain $1. If I changed the rules around and paid you only $1 when you pick the white ball, it would be a losing game for you and you shouldn't play. Poker is the same thing except it has 52 balls. You see when you're getting paid off and you play. Otherwise, you fold.

    I am probably wrong but I don't think Blackjack is a form of poker. I was talking about games like texas holdem anyways where you can't count cards (not that it's against the rules, but you just can't do it). Anyways, you DON'T NEED to count cards in texas holdem to give yourself an edge. There are always people making bad calls (like the guys calling gravenewworld with a 2/45 chance) and THOSE people right there is all you need to make money. On the other hand, when you play blackjack, you're playing against the house. The ONLY way you can give yourself a slight edge is by counting cards (obviously against the house's rules since the house can't afford to give you the mathematical advantage).

    Why can't you compare gambling with morality? I don't think I understand. The only "bad" thing I see about it is that you're taking money from people for just being better than them as opposed to taking money from people in return for a service (pretty much all other jobs).

    Ok, enough with the replies. I am not trying to make a living playing poker or anything. It could make for a good hobby during college, but all I am concerned about is the morality of the game. Do you think it's immoral to take money from people without offering a service in return?
  22. Aug 7, 2005 #21


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    Already said, but to reiterate...
    If you think Poker is a game of probability, then you are not even halfway to becoming a good Poker player. Poker is more a game of psychology than anything else.
    I'm guessing from this and from what was above that you've mostly played online. If that's the case, you'll find that there is a big difference between playing online and playing with "real" people. There is also a big difference between playing for fake and real money. Also, be careful playing online - it isn't that hard to cheat.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2005
  23. Aug 7, 2005 #22
    I agree that SOME forms of poker are pretty much all psychology. When I go play in $5 buy in tournaments with my friends where blinds go up regularly, the math goes down the drain. There is still some math but it's mostly psychology. BTW, I'm pretty good at figuring out what the other guys have :tongue2:. However, online is different. I recently moved up in limits (still small stakes) and there are a few more tricks that you need to know (blind stealing, isolating, etc...), but the math is still there. With stats and everything online you can even record about what % of the time someone bluffs (obviously it could be a bit off since sometimes they win w/o showing their hand so you don't know if they bluffed or not but most of the time they get called) and make plays based on those percentages. If you really pay attention you can even find patterns in people's play because online is a lot more mechanical...you have three buttons and you just press on one of them. Most people have a system they follow (subconsciously even) and for some, figuring out their system is pretty easy.
  24. Aug 7, 2005 #23


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    You've obviously never played poker in the casino considering you only turned 18. For one thing there is something called blinds that force you to put money in regardless if you have a good or bad hand.

    Card counting is not something exclusive to Blackjack. Yes, that's the most popular game to use it on, but it can be used to help you in poker. Also as russ_watters pointed out, you can also use psychology to your advantage to better your chances of winning.

    People ARE getting a service in return. They get the excitiment of playing a game for money. Even if the person loses the person can still say the game was fun because it was exciting.
  25. Aug 7, 2005 #24
    I just turned 19 five days ago :biggrin:. Still too young to know anything..eh? Probably true.
    Yep, I haven't played in a casino before, but I've played with casino rules and trust me I know what blinds are :tongue2:. The simple game I gave was just to illustrate a point: You play only when you get paid off (at the small stakes, you get paid off a lot more than you need to in order to make profit or just break even) and you fold when you are not getting paid off. Yes, you can't just fold every hand without losing money because you have to pay the blinds, but the pay offs you get from other people's mistakes more than make up for that.
    Online you play about 45 hands/hr, blinds are usually 1.5 small bets every 10 hands so about 6.75 small bets/hr or about 3.4 big bets/hr. When you have 4+ (some of those tables have 7+) people making mistakes every single hand, you get paid off. If, when you win a pot, 4 people enter the pot with a bad hand, that's 4 small bets right there. Also, those people don't just fold on the flop, they keep going and make more and more mistakes which makes up for the blinds you pay and the rake.

    Hmmmm, you can count cards in texasholdem/omaha where the deck is shuffled every hand and the only known cards are your/community cards? Are you talking about "outs" (ie. If I have an Ace I know that there are 3 Aces left in the deck so I calculate the exact prob. of getting one)? Because if you are, I do that all the time.

    Sweet, I never thought about it that way.
  26. Aug 7, 2005 #25


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    I don't know where you get 4300/semester from. It's actually about $4600/YEAR.

    So actually all I claim to have made is about 10-11 thousand (plus maybe a thousand that I made that doesn't go towards university). Which works out to about 15 bucks an hour. It's not that great, but it's good money for an 18 year old. And it sure beats flipping burgers.

    This is definitely a problem for a lot of people. They win some money, and they think they're Doyle Brunson and play in bigger and bigger games until inevitably all their money is gone. Among online players this is known as the "newbie circle of death".

    But if you can combat the urge to do this, or if you do not have the urge in the first place (as I do not), then you can be successful just playing the low limits.

    Truth be told, I'm scared of money. I'm a very frugal guy. Losing money makes me sick. If I sit down for a couple of hours and lose $20, I feel sick for the rest of the day. Never mind that I've won fifty times that in the last month, it still sucks to lose. But I think it's that respect for money that makes me the winner that I am.

    It's all about expected value. Who cares if that guy catches the miracle river card? If I have made the right play, and he has made an incorrect play, I HAVE WON. That's all that matters. Poker is not about this hand, this session, or this week. It is about the hundreds of thousands of hands you play, and over time luck will always even out and the people that make the right plays will win out in the end. Beginners always have "this hand" syndrome. They get lucky and think they made a good play. Or they get unlucky and think they made a bad play. Winning or losing one particular hand doesn't matter, and really that's one of if not the most important psychological precept in poker. It's making winning plays that matters.

    Why do you think I'm going to university right now? So I can be a career $15/hr poker player? It's merely a fun and very convenient way of paying for my education.

    The only reason Doyle was playing ten deuce was because it was head up. Against one other person almost any two cards are playable. In a normal no limit ring game only maniacs and morons play T2.

    From what you have said here I can tell you don't know much about poker. Poker is only a game more about psychology at the high limits. At the lower limits poker is all about making the right mathematical plays and not going on tilt.

    Why be careful playing online? Because you couldn't hack it online and busted out your bankroll because "it's rigged"? I always laugh at people like you. Play well against the B&M fish but can't hack it against the online crowd. Newsflash: Online players are better as a whole than B&M players. And how exactly do you cheat online? I have never cheated online, and I have never encountered a cheater. I cannot say the same thing about B&M.

    Please, inform me of how exactly you can cheat online.

    There is no card counting in poker.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2005
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