So good odds, good to call, right?

Not necessarily. Tournaments are a very complicated form of poker involving many variables and sometimes the potential downside of losing a mathematically profitable spot is too heavy to warrant taking on the risk. Anytime you fold you are saying “no thank you” to variance and sometimes you’ll be such a favorite to win anyway that the last thing you want to do is put a good chunk of your destiny in the hands of fickle Lady Luck.

When deciding whether or not to make a move you have to consider a couple of things. Just because you have an appropriate stack size for a specific play doesn’t mean it’s worth trying to execute. Your likelihood of being successful will depend on both how many players are left to act, and what types of players are left to act. As we’ve discussed in previous chapters, loose wild players are capable of thwarting your efforts by playing back with much more hands than tight players, who will only play back when they are dealt a strong hand.

We’ve also gone over the importance of image, and it is just as important when calculating your pot equity. Even if the odds are in your favour your table image and recent activity at the table will determine whether or not your opponents think you are making a play because you got dealt a good hand, or because you are trying to steal. When you have a tight/solid image you can get away with more steals, when you have a loose/reckless image you are more likely to run into counter aggression. In other words, your image will impact your odds, so create and use it wisely.

Image is powerful, but the degree to which it factors into your odds fluctuates with these factors:

a) some opponents won’t be playing deep poker and as such, they don’t care about or account for other players’ images;

b) first impressions are most important and some players will never deviate from their initial assumptions about you;

c) people are much more apt to remember what happened 5 minutes ago than 5 hours ago.

Your actual cards do make a difference, especially when making plays that involve all-in bets. If you’re unlikely to reach a showdown though, the first two considerations (players in the hand and table image) are much more important than your cards. Your opponents can’t see your cards, after all, and their reactions will be based
on what they perceive you to have, so as you get deeper and deeper stacked and have more opportunities (i.e. streets of betting) to apply the power of fold equity, your pot equity (which is determined by your cards) becomes a much less significant factor in the operation.

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