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George Epstein

Calling to See the Flop from an Early Position

by George “The Engineer” Epstein

Most (if not all) poker experts will agree: As you peek at your holecards, by far the most important decision is whether or not to invest your hard-earned (?) chips in that hand. The vast majority of holecards are drawing hands that must improve to win the pot. Considering all relevant factors, ask yourself: Do my two holecards warrant my making an investment? If the flop improves your hand, chances are you will invest further in that hand. Starting with an inferior hand, it is likely that, even if you make your hand, an opponent may have a better one. Second-best is costly! Example: Starting with A-rag and catching another Ace on the flop, an opponent with a better Ace (say A-10) has you “outkicked”. He is heavily favored to beat you out.

 The basic criteria for making that starting-hand decision is based on two key factors: (1) Value of your two holecards (rank, pairs, connectors, suited); and (2) Your betting position.

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On Judge Weinstein’s Poker Ruling...

by George “The Engineer” Epstein

News of U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein’s ruling regarding poker quickly spread across the nation, to the delight of poker enthusiasts.

 Specifically, on August 21, the good judge decided that a New York electronics dealer had not violated a federal gambling law by offering Texas hold’em poker games in his warehouse. The judge’s rationale: Unlike roulette or slot machines, poker is not “predominated by chance.” This ruling focused renewed interest on the age-old question: Is poker a game of skill, or chance (luck)? Which predominates?

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When Your Opponent Raises...

by George “The Engineer” Epstein

Questions cross your mind when an opponent raises. If you knew why he raised, your next decision would be much easier, and more likely in your best interest. Let’s explore some of these reasons. . . and clues that might shed light on these.

 Why did he raise rather than just call on that betting round? Why Did He Raise? To answer our question, consider the 13 Reasons for Raising as described in my column in the August 13 issue of PPN. The average player probably is not sufficiently astute to go beyond the four top reasons: (1) Build the pot (Raise for value); (2) Force out some opponents (so his made hand has a better chance of holding up to the river); (3) Steal the blinds; (4) Semi-bluff and/or bluff.

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Why Raise???, PART 2

Just to remind you, in our last column we presented “The 13 Reasons for Raising,” developed in cooperation with my Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group and discussed the first eight on the list.

 The 13 Reasons for Raising

 • Build the pot • Force out opponents – RSPF • Steal the blinds • Semi-Bluff or Bluff • Get information (How good is my hand?) • Improve betting position • Isolate a “maniac” • Get a FREE card on the next betting round • Force out a bluffer on the river • Buy more outs • Protect your hand • Create or change your image • As a psychological weapon

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Why Raise??? PART 1 13 Big Reasons...

by George “The Engineer” Epstein

An opponent bets. You raise, increasing the size of the bet. In a limit game, your raise is an additional amount equal to the size of the original bet. You may get reraised. In nolimit games the size of the bet can be many times larger than the original bet, even all of the chips in front of you— “Going all in!” Casinos generally limit the number of raises for each betting round in a fixed-limit game to three or four. A player is said to “cap” the raising when he makes the final raise allowed. But there is no limit to the number of raises if the hand becomes heads-up (just two players remaining in the pot), nor is there any limit on the number of raises in a no-limit game.

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Gambling by Definition... Maybe!

by  George “The Engineer” Epstein

Wendeen Eolis’ fascinating feature, “Who Says Poker is Skill?” (March 12 issue) drew me to her primary reference source: The Fordham Intellectual Property, Media, and Entertainment Law Journal article by Bennett M. Liebman, entitled, “Poker Flops Under New York Law” (2006, Vol. 17, Issue 1, Article 1). Liebman thoroughly researched the skill vs. chance legal issues used in defining whether poker should be considered a form of gambling—and hence illegal. Courts have ruled based on varied opinions about the relative importance of skill vs. chance (luck), or whether money is involved. Most Significant: According to Liebman, the “…courts in New York State have always stated that poker is illegal without giving the matter significant analysis or thought. For a century, the New York Courts have stated that card games, such as poker, are games of chance.” Indeed, legal citation after citation, court rulings, etc., go back and forth on the issue—but, in the final analysis, they often agree that, “Poker should not be legal because it involves chance.”

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Don’t Be a "Chronically Unlucky" Player!

 By George "The engineer" Epstein
Here’s an e-mail I received awhile back from reader L. J. in San Diego:

 “I read your column in Poker Player and think you must be a really quick thinker to be able to figure odds so quickly when playing. I am a novice player and like the excitement. Would like your opinion as to whether a player can be a loser almost always—a chronically unlucky player—or is it possible to change this condition? Will appreciate your reply.” Here’s my response to her, edited for Poker Player Newspaper: Every player is unlucky sometimes, but when it’s always the case, something needs to be changed. It takes considerable patience and perseverance. And you have to be dedicated to becoming a winner. Most players are long-term losers. The difference is a matter of skill. While you cannot control luck, you can influence it to be more favorable. Here are some ways I teach my students.

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An Incredible New Book & Author Part 2

By George “The Engineer” Epstein

 [Read Part 1] Continuing our review of Thomas M. Green’s unique new book, Texas Hold’Em Poker Textbook...

 The Flop (There are 19,600 possible flops). A “sparse” flop—three cards of different ranks, not in sequence and different suits—will occur almost 75 percent of the time.

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An Incredble New Book & Author, PART 1

by George 'The Engineer' Epstein

With so many poker books available (including my own two rather unique books), I hesitate to write about any. But Thomas M. Green’s Texas Hold’Em Poker Textbook is very different. So is Mr. Green. I have never met the gentlemen, except through correspondence. He is a retired math professor who knows the game of poker quite well, and uses mathematical concepts to perfection.

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End of Series: The Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group... PART 3

by George 'The Engineer' Epstein

The previous two issues (Read Part 1 and Part 2) described how the Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group started seven years ago and grew rapidly. We play for recreation, recognizing that there are significant health benefits for seniors as well as potential profits. Today we complete the story. Starting out, we made do with whatever facilities were available. I brought the cards and chips, and the senior center purchased a large white board to facilitate lectures and discussions. As we grew, we moved into a large room where we also enjoy light refreshments, distribute poker publications, and hold door prize drawings. And local casinos were pleased to host us. After playing on makeshift tables for several years, the management at the Normandie Casino donated two regulation poker tables and heavy-duty poker chips. Our members could hardly believe their eyes!

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