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Should you sacrifice short term profit for long term gain in online poker?
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Should you sacrifice short term profit for long term gain in online poker?

Date Published: 2nd February 2020
Author: Dana Andrew

This is a common misconception among new players and it denotes an extreme ignorance on some key and fundamental concepts in poker like expected value and variance.


In order to fully assess the root of this misconception we have to dive deep into the logic behind this reasoning. Let's breakdown some myths around this…

“It's better to sacrifice a bit of long-term EV in order to reduce short term variance”

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I won't state this is wrong. There's some truth behind it but not as many people think. Let's start by listing the situations where I would be comfortable passing small/marginal EV decisions…

  • If I have an edge against the majority of the players on my table.
  • If we´re talking about $EV instead of chip EV
  • The amount of chips we´re risking do not compensate the risk we´re taking.

Besides all of those, I just won't be passing any EV situations at my table. If someone comes along and gives you $100 you won't turn it down to wait and see if someone else comes and offers you more money…Would you? Of course not! By passing EV situations, regardless how marginal or small they are, is precisely the equivalent of rejecting those $100. Let's break it down each one of those

If I have an edge against the majority of the players on my table.

If I have a genuine edge against most of the players on my table then it makes sense letting pass some marginal EV situations in order to exploit these players postflop in a much better situations.

For example, let's say I am playing in a turbo 1-table SNG against the top 5 best players in that format. In that case, I am more than happy to flip preflop for 50bb-60bb effective stack since my postflop edges against them aren't any better than taking a flip in an all-in situation preflop. Contrary to this, let's say I am playing the same format but this time playing against 5 bad players. In this situation I won't be flipping a 50bb-60bb effective stack in a marginal all-in preflop situation.

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I can make up all the EV lost there by exploiting them postflop on later hands. It just makes more sense to me. If we're talking about $EV instead of chip EV Obviously, here we're referring to late stages in a tournament where ICM takes a major role influencing our decisions at the table. In this situation, we have to take into account future EV a lot more and take pay jumps into account. The amount of chips we´re risking do not compensate the risk we're taking.

This is pretty similar to the first one. A common situation to this is in the first stages of a tournament and we´re facing a potential all-in situation with 100bb preflop with AK. It makes no sense flipping for that many big blinds so early on a tournament where bad players, fish, maniacs, and calling stations are all over the place.

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