All About Luck In Online Poker
1. Don’t press your luck when you don’t need to. If it’s early in a deep stack tournament, simply don’t put yourself into position to need to get lucky to win. Especially in a deep stack tournament, skillful players should be able to find situations where the outcome is predicated on their skill (at bluffing, inducing bluffs, making reads, whatever) and not on luck at all. This is why you hear the top pros say over and over again that they won’t get broke early with any hand but pocket aces. They are particularly chary of hands like AK, which look oh so pretty, but usually need to be on the right side of a coin flip in order to win a big pot. Pros hate coin flips early in tournaments. They don’t want to need to get lucky to stay alive, not when simply not getting involved will serve the same end.
2. Plan ahead for the luck you get. There’s a whole range of situations where certain “unlucky” cards will come off the deck — unlucky in the sense that they don’t help your hand. But if you have a plan for those unlucky outcomes, you can often turn them to your advantage. We call these cards phantom outs — cards that would help your hand if you, in fact, had that hand. To use phantom outs, simply look at a flop that’s two-suited or two-straighted and tell yourself that if a coordinated card comes on the turn you’re going to bet it as if you own it. Against the right opponent (the kind who will put you on a draw and be determined not to pay you off) you can the wrong card into a ripe opportunity to capture the pot.
3. Take luck out of the picture. Make everyone fold. That way it doesn’t matter what cards come next. This is why strong players play strongly: so the power of their bets, not the power of luck, determines outcomes. I find that when I’m really on my game I’m not particularly lucky — because I’m playing so dominantly that I really don’t need to be lucky at all. Remember: If they all fold, you don’t need to get lucky to win.
4. Deal with it. Bad luck strikes. It happens to you, me, and every other poker player in the world, just like it happens to slot players and craps players and everyone else who gambles. But we poker players know that our decisions matter, and one key decision is, “What are you going to do next?” If you let bad luck turn into bad play, then you’ve multiplied and magnified its negative influence. If you can shrug off bad outcomes, and stay strong and stable, then you have a chance to minimize bad luck and see yourself through to victory.
In every poker tournament, indeed any poker game anywhere, some very talented players get very unlucky, and go broke, while some not-so-talented players get very lucky and believe for a while that they’re better than they are. Eventually, like water, they’ll all find their level. The strong players will recover and the weak players will go broke. In the long run, after all, everyone is equally lucky: It how you deal with the luck you get that makes the difference in the end.