It’s time for part two of the Gambling A to Z, which is of course the letter “B”. In each of our A to Z articles, we take a look at topics related to gambling and today, the subjects are “Bad Beat”, “Blackjack” and “Blinds”.
B is for… Bad Beat
It’s a fairly safe bet that most people already know what a bad beat is. We’ve all flopped a set with our pocket Aces whilst playing No Limit Texas Hold’em poker, only for some terrible player to hit a running flush with some trash hand.
The thing about a bad beat is that one can seriously upset a poker player’s mindset, albeit temporarily, but enough to make the player adopt less than profitable tactics at the poker table. Often, a player will begin to target the player who inflicted the bad beat and if the pot was a big one, the player might begin to chase the loss, trying to get back the money they feel should be theirs.
The key to coping with bad beats in poker, is to accept that they must happen. Imagine you get the chips to the centre with K – K but your opponent turns up two aces. Your opponent in this particular poker hand is an 81% favourite to win the hand. That means that if you played the hand 100 times, you would expect to win 19 of those hands with your massively dominated hand. Bad beats have to happen.
Now consider a major poker tournament; five days of poker, maybe ten hours of play per day. You’re going to face the above situation around ten times during the tournament. For you to survive that situation ten times in a row, you will need to get very lucky. In fact, your chance of surviving all of those ten hands is just 12.5%, but that 12.5% still must happen to someone, somewhere.
The point is that somebody has to get very lucky in order to win the poker tournament. Some of the time it will be you. Bad beats have to happen, it’s a mathematical fact and you will receive as many as you dish out to other poker players, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Don’t dwell on them.
B is for… Blackjack
Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world, due to its simplicity and the excitement it offers. The game has been around for a long time, with the first written references dating the origins of Blackjack to at least the beginning of the 17th Century.
There are many Blackjack rule variations, but the essential aim of the game is always the same, in any casino – beat the dealer’s score, without going over 21. If your hand value is more than 21, then you are said to be “Bust”. If the dealer goes over 21, then all remaining hands win.
If a Blackjack players learns to count cards, he or she can actually turn the traditional house advantage in his or her favour, by as much as 2%. Counting cards is not the guaranteed route to riches portrayed by Hollywood, but it does offer a slight long term edge, which when applied with discipline, can help to boost your bankroll.
There are hundreds of books written about Blackjack and we particularly recommend “Play Blackjack Like The Pros”, by Kevin Blackwood. The book is useful for Blackjack players of all levels, from novices through to experienced casino goers.
B is for… Blinds
In certain poker games, such as Omaha or Texas Hold’em, players are forced to make compulsory wagers, known as “blinds”. The term “blind” comes from the fact that the player has placed their bet without having actually looked at the cards dealt to them.
The purpose of the blinds is to prevent a poker player from simply doing nothing until a good hand comes along. You can’t just sit and wait for pocket aces forever, because the blinds will eat into your chip stack, eventually whittling it away to nothing. In tournament poker, the blinds control the duration of the event. Sharp rises in blind levels will make for a shorter tournament.
Stealing the blinds is an essential strategy for any poker player to adopt, be it a tournament or a cash, ring game. If you can steal the blinds once per orbit, than when your turn to pay the blinds comes round, your stolen blinds will cover the cost. If you can steal the blinds more than once per orbit, you can profit. Be careful though, as any player at the table can be holding a good hand, even the blinds.
Playing hands from the blinds is difficult. In the long term, everybody loses money on their blind hands, no matter how good they are, due to the fact that the blinds are out of position for the rest of the hand.
It is almost always wrong to surrender the small blind, where nobody has raised pre-flop. Similarly, it’s usually best to check in the big blind, if nobody has raised. The obvious exceptions to these general rules are when you are holding a strong hand, such as a high pocket pair.
Remember, that saving money is equally as important as winning money at the poker table. Don’t defend the blinds unnecessarily. Throwing away a rag hand pre-flop and losing your blind, is much better than calling a raise and throwing it away on the flop, losing maybe three or four times the value of the blind.
Until next time, best of luck with your gambling!