I had a student last week bring me some hands for analysis. This is quite common. When my students show up with hands to talk about, it really helps us to find leaks in their game and help them learn how to handle tough spots. Many poker coaches would have been dismayed by the hands this student showed up with because they were all bad beats.

In the first hand, she three-bet pre-flop from the cutoff seat with aces and the original raiser called. The flop was 664 rainbow — a great flop for her hand — and she was able to get all the chips in the middle against a pair of jacks. You may be thinking that there is nothing that can be done about this situation. She got her opponent all-in as a huge favorite, and no amount of coaching would help her do anything different because she played the hand perfectly.

From a strategy standpoint you would be correct. But strategy isn’t everything. Once the chips are all-in, you have to get your hand to hold up. Lucky for my student, she chose the right coach. No one knows more about running good, winning coin flips, and getting lucky, than me. Two hours later, she had a good grasp on all the high-level strategies that pros use to increase their luck factor. I have increased the luck factor scores of some of the best players in the world, increasing one well known pro from a 5.2 to a 7.5 in just a few short weeks. And now, for the first time ever, I’m revealing those strategies to the public. You are welcome.

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Poker players have been learning about ways to increase their chances of getting a good hand, or winning once the chips are all-in, since the first bet was placed at least a century ago. After years of study, I have found four basic strategies for increasing your luck factor.

Daring the Universe

When you declare your certainty that you are going to lose a hand, you are essentially daring the universe to prove you wrong. This serves two purposes. First, it works like a challenge. When the poker gods hear you talking like this, they want to prove you wrong. You are daring them to prove you wrong and give you the pot. You are also hedging your bet mentally. If you lose, at least you were right in your prediction. And if you win, who cares what you had to say to win the pot? It’s a win/win!

To execute this play, you have to make sure everyone knows that you believe that you have absolutely no chance to win. The more certain you sound, the better the challenge to the fates. Something like:

“I don’t have a chance.”

That’s a good start, but you have to let the universe know that you are COMMITTED! Standing up from your seat and putting on your coat is a good way to do this, but there are lots of similar tactics that show how certain you are that you cannot possibly win. Wishing your opponents good luck also works well.

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This strategy has been shown in clinical testing to improve your chances of winning the hand by 19%. While this may not sound like much, it’s basically a punch card that allows you to win one out of every five hands for free. That extra 19% really adds up over time.

Calling For Your Card

Sometimes the negative approach of daring the universe to prove you wrong doesn’t work. In situations where you are way ahead, introducing too much negativity can actually hurt your luck factor. Instead, try going the positive route. Concentrate hard on a specific card that doesn’t change the hand in any way. Most players find that calling for a deuce is the most effective in these situations. Focus hard on that deuce of clubs. Call for it. Pray for it. Picture it snapping into place on the board. If you concentrate hard enough, you will summon that card out of the aether.

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At the American Luck Factor Institute, or ALFI, we study the effects of all kinds of strategies. Recently we concluded a study on the effectiveness of the most simple of all luck strategies.

It turns out that calling for your card in situations where you are slightly behind has been shown to increase your odds of winning the hand by 6%, while calling for a blank when you are ahead is 23% effective, making it one of the largest known increases in luck factor of all the strategies we’ve studied.

Asking For It

If you want something in this world, you start by asking for it. Any sales guy will tell you that asking for the sale is the only way to get it. Want a raise? The only way to get it is to march into the boss’ office and ask for it. This is true in poker as well. If you haven’t seen a premium hand in a while, asking the dealer for a hand has been shown to be 7% more effective than complaining about not having a hand for the last two hours.

This strategy also works for bad beat jackpots, high hand of the hour bonuses, and other house promotions. Requesting a bad beat jackpot from a dealer is only 3% more effective than doing nothing at all, but that request doesn’t cost you anything and a 3% increase in your chance of winning a huge jackpot can have significant value.

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When requesting that the dealer deal a jackpot hand to you, we have also discovered a significant “dibs effect”. If another player has already requested a bad beat jackpot hand from the dealer within the last 30 minutes, your request will have no significant effect (statistically speaking). Wait your turn and get in there with your request as soon as 30 minutes has passed since the last player’s request. And don’t worry about the dealers; they enjoy this type of request. They find it humorous, especially since it will often be the first time they’ve heard someone ask to be dealt a jackpot, and they will probably give you a sincere smile and do their best to make it happen.

Trend Tracking

If a current is strong enough, it’s much easier to use it than to try to change it. But first you need to know what direction that luck current is running. This requires careful attention to which cards are running hot, and which hands are winning and losing. This concept can also be applied to “hot seats”, players who are running well, and which cards a dealer tends to put out on the board. If you ask the dealer, they will often tell you which cards they usually put on the board, which can help you decide which cards to play.

We have found that tracking a trend and using it correctly results in a 12% increase in your win rate. This is true fairly consistently over a wide range of situations from tracking which seats are best for you, to knowing that sixes are hot tonight. Even folding a few extra hands until you can get a seat change when you are in a cold seat can result in saving a few dollars.

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We have also tracked the opposite of the continuing trend, called the “due effect” and determined that it has virtually no value. A trend is much more likely to continue than it is to stop. If you think you are due, use one of our previously mentioned strategies, or simply rack up and leave because you are running bad and it isn’t going to change anytime soon.

While this article was a basic overview of the strategies you can use to increase your luck, it is by no means complete. That would require an entire book. Maybe two. Stay tuned for my upcoming book Run Good and Win Flips: A Poker Player’s Guide to Luck (Volume 1).

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