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Poker Life – Mix up your strategy with a real-world randomizer

Fri, Oct 14, 1:00pm by Poker Guru

In Dan Harrington’s excellent books on tournament strategy, he recommends using your watch as a ‘randomizer’ to mix up your game. Suppose your pre-flop strategy is to raise with pocket aces 80% of the time and just limp 20% of the time, then you discreetly take a look at your watch. If the second hand is between 0 and 47, you raise, if it is between 48 and 59, you call. Of course a clock is very far from random but for the purpose of mixing up your pre-flop strategy, it serves the purpose.

A very good professional player I know once explained his randomizer strategy to me. When he is deciding about what to do when someone has made a bet or raise, he will use the bet amount of the other player as his ‘randomizer’. If the bet is 1400, he will add 1+4+0+0 = 5 and use the digit 5 as the base for his decision. I think there is an element of superstitious numerology in his strategy but as long as the other players are not aware of his reasoning it is another good way of making yourself unpredictable.

Personally I do not really use a ‘randomizer’ but I often pick a joker card, e.g. four of diamonds. Whenever I am dealt four of diamonds I will play it as a strong hand. It is a way for me to force myself to bluff more often and it makes me bluff in less than obvious bluff situations.

How important is it to mix up your game like this? Against strong players I think it is very important, and especially if you are playing a long session or often against the same group of players. Any major tournament would fall into this category. In a Pokerstars Spin’n’Go or a short cash games session online you do not need to mix up your game at all. But in major tournaments online you definitely should, and sitting in front of your computer you do not need to be discreet either. You can roll a dice to make decisions, or even have a random number generator running on your laptop.

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