Risks and Coinflips in Poker

Winning poker involves taking risks and involves aggression, but one of the big differences between good and bad players is their reliance on coinflips. When should you rely on a coinflip?

My advice is NEVER, unless you have a sufficiently dominating stack size. Coinflips without dominating stack is just a rookies playing field.

Only exceptions :-

1) It isnt really a true 50/50 coin flip (and they rarely are). If someone launches from the cutoff and you are BB looking at 99....is that a coin flip? Maybe, how about TT or JJ? We never deal in absolute information. So if you think your side of the "coin flip" is favourite then obviously you are more likely to call.

2) You are the aggressor, not the caller

The above 2 scenarios cover such things as becoming shortstacked and building a stack. But a sidenote on shortstacked play, you should never let your stack get so low that it makes it too easy for any other player to call. (ie dont getting blinded out gradually). The hands you should play in this case depend on how quickly this critical point is approaching. Find the aggression sooner rather than later.

Now, with my "never" response you might think I am advocating a passive style of play, I am certainly not.

What is most important in tournament play is putting yourself in the situation of never having to take a coin flip without dominating stack size. And you can only do this through timely aggression and making moves.

Well a whole book could be written on how this is done . so no point going into that here . And of course it is not always possible to get to that situation, because of the luck factor.

Several people have said to me they would never enter the WSOP main event because it would take too many coinflips. Well I do not subscribe to this viewpoint. Poker tournaments require a little luck at some key moments but what they are not is a pure lottery, unless that is what you make them.

If we take the extreme example of say 30 coin flips (without dominating stack) to win the WSOP. Well that would mean you actually do get better odds by playing the national lottery. So if you enter the WSOP Main Event with this attitude you wont go far without being the luckiest person alive.

In short, one of many many skill elements is avoiding coinflips without dominating stack size, and reducing the dependance on this form of luck. The aggression needed to win can be found in many many other areas.