The only games I like to play are games where I can win and keep winning and then win some more.
Sometimes it’s impossible to win because the math just doesn’t work — like craps, where the house has the advantage every time on every bet. You might win now and then, but over time, you end up getting killed. It might be better to put a match to the dollar bills and enjoy the momentary brilliance of the flames.
Sometimes the math works — as with blackjack — but the proper conditions for winning cannot be found. That’s pretty much the case in casinos these days as counter measures to card counting have taken the fun — and the profits — out of educated play.
Where blackjacks once paid 3 to 2 they now pay 6 to 5 most everywhere. That makes it tough to come out ahead. You could probably find decent rules at some single deck tables, but they’re so closely monitored these days that your chances of being allowed to win for more than a very short time are slim.
What’s a mathematically-inclined risk taker to do?
After years of losing at poker or barely playing even, I’ve discovered that I can win at Texas Hold Em poker — if I play a certain way and keep away from the high stakes tables. I mean that I’ve started winning more often than I lose and that when I win it’s for larger amounts than the losses when I don’t win. Not that much different than the stock trading that I do.
This is not news to players who’ve been at it since they first watched Matt Damon in Rounders in the late 90′s — or to on-line addicts who’ve been applying software to research the play of opponents. Entire schools of how-to-approach the tables have taken root — even if I’ve only recently discovered the party.
I’m grateful to James “Split Suit” Sweeney at Red Chip Poker for introducing me to skilled Hold Em play. I’m only now getting completely up-to-date on the all of the differences between tight-aggressive and loose-aggressive and how either or both might be appropriate depending on the players you’re facing and the cards you’re dealt.