Monday, May 7, 2012

Poker - How to Beat the Donkeys

Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies the Thriller Novel is NOW available in ebooks and paperback!
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Poker shows up in books, it's mainstream, exciting, and people like to watch risk-takers... Here's my take on Poker and why you won't see me writing about it in my novels (unless I do).

Poker is a game of strategy played 8 to 10 hours a day, everyday in casinos, by people who have no concept of tactics or place no value on money and usually BOTH. We call these people donkeys. Donkeys are, as I see it, the primary problem with playing poker.

Donkeys are generally retired or working from their "casino office", extremely wealthy, or blowing their inheritance. These people, in general, do not value money. I was working at Bally's Casino in Vegas around 3:30am as a Software Manager in charge of technical support for a casino equipment supplier when I saw someone who was refered to as the former CEO of WorldCom (You know that giant telecom company worth billions of dollars that went bust?) He had a roulette table to himself and dozens upon dozens of stacks of chips (30 and 40 chips tall) in front of him and a dozen tall stacks on the table being bet. He bet a dozen tall stacks every spin of the wheel. I was told he had been standing there all day and all night. Three hours later I returned to Bally's Casino and he was still there playing the same table. The hieght of his chip-stacks had dropped from 40 to 20. The number of stacks of chips dropped in half. He was losing a couple percent of his money on average with every spin. He did not value his money and these are the same type of people who play poker (Maybe not that much money, but the same category). They can literally lose $1000 a day, every single day, and it effects their life in no way.

Can you afford to lose $1000 a day as a writer, artist, manager, engineer, or even retired? I doubt it.

The house rake on a 1-2 NL Holdem table is generally 10% or about 4 or 5 dollars max, with another dollar taken from each pot for the progressives. That's $6 out of each pot gone. So if an average pot size is $40 (and it may be slightly more or less), then you lose $4 and $1 more for a total win of $35, minus your investment, which is typically 33% to 50% (1 or 2 other players who call everything all the time or he/she/they are actually on a hand.) So out of the original $40 you put in $13 to $20. Let's say $17. Therefore 35 minus 17 = $18. Now lets consider that you are forced to limp with the blinds and most of the time you get nothing for cards and are in early position. Generally, you will lose in BB/SB positions. That's $3 per round you lost. If you get winning cards, which actually only occurs on average once every two rotations of the table, you still paid in $3 (more likely six but I'm going easy on you in this scenario.) $18 - 3 = $15. You won a little less than double your money.

If you won double your money (which you won't on avergae) then your odds are 1 in 2 to win, which means you MUST win every other pot that you play (approximately).

Is your game that good? Do you win every other pot? I doubt it.
What do you do when you're 17, trapped in a fortress that's surrounded by a zombies, and your boyfriend is lost? If you're Julie Rayzor, you lock n load.
Let's talk about the rake. 10% goes to the house. That means 10% of your money going into the pot goes to the casino and 10% of your opponents money goes to the casino. You lose 10% of your money every single hand you play. Basic rules tell us that average starting hands only run about 60% in your favor pre-flop. Some are 70%, but not usually more than that. You are essentially flipping a coin (50/50, 60/40) in a game that takes away 10% from your winnings. Blackjack has better odds than that. 48% coin flip at 100% payback is far better than a 50/50 chance of winning 90% of the pot (after rake).

If the buy in is $200 and the average pot size is $50, with a rake of about $5, and you go heads-up, you will have wagered $200 within 8 hands that you see the flop.

Post-flop your odds can significantly decrease. You have no idea if someone flopped a set with pocket 3s and that your AA or KK is no good anymore. So you check and fold a big bet, or maybe the guy checks and you get to see another card, and then you fold a big bet or call a small bet? That coin is in the air!

Maybe you flopped two pair and bet the pot and a guy on a drawing hand calls. The turn comes and it's a rag so you bet the pot again and he calls. His odds of hitting his straight or flush are about 17% but he's calling bets that cost him 50% of the pot! Yes, he will lose 4 out of 5 times, except today - today he hits his straight on the river (and tomorrow too, and the day after that he's gone but another donkey is sitting in his seat.) My point is this happens over and over again all day long. When you lose, you go home broke. When the donkey loses, he pulls another $200 out of his pocket. When you win, you doubled your money, but you've lost so much from all the other hands that you can't recover.

Or MAYBE the dealer is a donkey who pushes the pot to the guy with King-high and takes your pair of eights and mucks them because in his warped world four-to-an-inside-straight beats a pair of eights. Then of-course the floor manager will defend his donkey by saying, "You mucked your hand by only placing one card across the line".

Perhaps a different Donkey-Dealer watches TV between dealing, talks to players about his weekend, and stares off into space for minutes at a time, thereby reducing your hands per hour from about 30 down to about 15. The number of hands you are dealt is critical to pushing up any kind of hourly-rate calculations. Getting one good starting hand every 15 to 17 hands with a donkey dealer means you get one winning starter-hand per hour instead of two.

To quote a dealer who also plays poker, "We're all donkeys." I believe that to be true and here is why: If we play poker, we are not valuing the effort and time it takes to earn a living, and by that definition we do not value the money. If we, as players, fold out of moderate hands due to giant bets placed by a donkey, we value the money too much, and by considering the pot-odds too closely will muck those hands we would have won with. If we call those big giant bets then we are not valuing the money enough to follow the rules of pot-odds, and again we lose.

If you want to play poker to win, don't play. If you want to play poker for fun, sit there and toss away everything but high pairs, QQ,KK,AA or sometimes see a flop by limping in with suited connectors. You will play one hand every thirty minutes and you need a good flop to win. To me, that sounds boring. I've got so many better things to do with my life.
What do you do with too many victims? Schwimer digs deep, exhumes the dead, and tracks down suspects. .
Anyone who says they are a "professional poker player" is one of either 10 people on the planet, has major sponsors covering their buy-in, or is lying to you and themselves. MOST likely they are losing in the long term and they don't care. As a friend once told me, "My gunsafe is filled with antiques that double in value every five years and I bought them all with 30 years of drinking and gambling money - I don't drink and I don't gamble."


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Absolutely that is 100% true. The "semi-professional" poker players who play to win refer to those people as donkeys. There's a pretty nasty undercurrent in the world of poker. I stopped playing this summer. I just don't really want to hang around with vile people. The dealer was more correct than anyone else I've ever heard. He was funny! "We're all donkeys." LOL!

  3. Oh, and I'll be deleting your spam from the end of the message.

    holdem indicatorOctober 19, 2012 1:03 PM
    Hi, I just wanted to tell you, you’re dead wrong. Your article doesn’t make any sense.
    People are playing poker for their fun not for the money. If someone had the money and he/she wants to spend this money it their decision.