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xflixx' Poker Blog

This blog is about my evolution as a poker player & trainer.
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The Wasted Pair Theorem

By: PSO-xflixx @ 10:49 (EDT) / 1924 / Comment ( 6 )

With the evolution of poker strategy through online messageboards we have seen various poker theorems forming from common observations or experiences. Those theorems are an inherent part of our poker thought process and our strategy discussions by now - Yeti, Zeebo, Baluga...and they all were named after their creator or inventor.

In today's post I would like to write about such an observation that I think has the potential to finally become a theorem. In true poker theorem fashion I would like to credit this one to the screenname of the person who initially raised my awareness to the gist of it. The user "PlayinWasted" notified me during a sample hand of a live training about a specific tendency that poker players typically have:

"Nobody likes to fold a turned or rivered pair."

Tom Dwan once said in some interview that it's hard to make a pair in Hold'em, so it may come rather natural that people oftentimes have a hard time folding such a rare beast.

We do feel a lot more committed to a pot once we hit a given board and this psychological factor may get amplified when we turn or river a pair. It feels like our hand has "improved" even though our relative hand strength might not actually have. 

You can find this tendency first and foremost with most recreational or tilting players who follow their urges or emotions more than sound reasoning:

On the contrary a player with a deeper thought process might be more apt to look for reasons to call down lighter once he makes a pair on a later street, but this incident might entice him to start thinking about ranges and combinatorics more to make a profitable decision:

I had already given up on the hand after villain's flopcall but when I turned a pair and he polarized his range through overbetting I figured that given my weak turnplay he wouldn't be taking this line with a King all too often.

I guess there are tons of further examples and consequences regarding this theorem, but that would go beyond the scope of this post. Funny sidenote: the theorem's name does not only credit it's initiator but it also reflects the balancing act of not wasting pairs for calldowns when your relative hand strength doesn't change or by folding them when you have just made a profitable bluffcatcher.

Closing this blog entry I will leave you with a quote from PlayinWasted:

"This pair ain't wasted if you're playin wasted!"

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