Computer Hand

Computer Hand

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Dear Dr Tom,

I’m playing a madman in a heads up cash game. He’s baiting me like crazy. Suddenly he says, “All in next hand!!!!” The hands are dealt and he insta-shoves. I have Q-8. Now, because I can be sure he’s doing this with a completely random hand, and because Q-7 is the median hand of all Hold’em poker hands, should I call?

Matty, North London

Dear Matty

Easy tiger!

There are lots of unknowns here. If neither of you has gone broke in this game, I assume that lots of pots haven’t reached a showdown and so you’re getting an incomplete picture of his holdings when he makes his big bets. I’m assuming you’re online and have not been able to see him actually bet blind so you can’t really be sure he has random cards. Just because he said, “All in next hand,” doesn’t mean he actually intends to do this is if he is dealt bad cards.

Perhaps he cultivates the madman image in small pots and really only commits himself with big holdings. Or perhaps he did indeed make big moves with filth but knows when you’re reaching boiling point (e.g. would contemplate calling with Q-8?) and is now saving the all-in for a decent hand. But even if he is mad you shouldn’t call now unless you know he is measuring out his medication at this precise moment – if not, you can rely on him being mad a little longer. Q-8 gives you an edge of 2.4% over a random hand. If you lose he may well laugh and leave. If you fold he’ll do it again in the near future. You’ll get and ace, king or pair once every three hands and then you can call if you really feel he’s moving with random cards. By the way, the median hand (the one in the middle of the hand rankings) is not the issue anyway – the hands don’t increase in value in an orderly way. Versus a random hand you still have an edge with Q-5o, though you might run into bankroll issues pursuing it.

Dr Tom

Tags: Tom Sambrook, Strategy,