Poker Tips By George: Chasers are Losers

By George Epstein
July 29, 2019

Have you ever seen a dog chasing a car? It’s a hopeless task. The poor dog never catches the car. The dog is a chaser – a loser. Playing poker, there are lots of chasers; and they usually lose most, if not all, of their chips before the evening is over, no matter the game or the stakes. Even more so if there is a cost to play, as is the case in cardrooms and casinos all over the world.

What is a “chaser” in hold’em poker?

More often than not, after the flop you will find yourself with a hand that almost always must still improve to take the pot. These are “drawing hands.” The cards that will complete your draw to a “made hand” – one that could win without further improvement – are your “outs.” Count them; the more the merrier – the better your chance of connecting. (Of course, it’s best to connect to the “nuts” – a hand that cannot be beat, considering the cards shown on the board. But that is relatively rare.)

Many poker players are prone to chase; why? Answer: They know that if they catch the right card, they are very likely to win the pot. (Not always, of course; unless they catch the nuts.)

Let’s illustrate using a typical chasing hand: In the big blind in a $4-$8 limit hold’em game, you have been dealt 7s-8h. Several opponents limp to see the flop; and, with no raise, you get a free flop. (Tip: Never refuse a “free” flop.)

The flop is Jd-9c-2h. You now have caught a draw to an inside straight, Jack-high. You need to catch a 10; if that happens, your hand is highly likely to win the pot. There are four 10s in the deck; so, you have four outs. That’s much too few to warrant further investing in that hand. Fold to a bet and save your chips for a better opportunity. (Tip: Don’t goof! The chips you save are at least as valuable as those you win.)

On the other hand…

If you had been dealt As-Kh in the hole from a middle position, and the flop was Jd-Qc-2d, you would have the chance of catching any 10 for the Ace-high straight (4 outs), plus either an Ace (3 outs) or a King (3 outs) on the turn or on the river. In total, you would have 10 outs (4 + 3 + 3) that are likely to make your hand a winner.

Using the 4-2 Rule, with both the turn and river to come, multiply your outs by 4. You have approximately 40 percent (4 x 10) chance of connecting with a made hand. Your card odds are about (100 – 40)/40 = 3/2 = 1.5-to-1 against connecting.

Remember, we’re talking about limit hold’em. There is a raise before you, so it will cost eight chips to stay to see the turn. The pot now contains about 32 chips. Thus, the pot odds are 32-to-8 = 4-to-1, substantially higher than your card odds (1.5-to-1). That’s a very high positive expectation. In other words, the risk is well worth the investment. In the long run, you will make a good profit by playing that hand to the river.

Contrast this hand with the first case, where you were chasing a long shot with only four outs, too few to warrant calling the bet on the flop. I regard anything less than six outs as chasing rather than investing (pot odds higher than the card odds).

Don’t be a “chaser” in any other casino game

Of course, the risk of becoming a chaser is not confined to the poker sphere. The same problem can arise when playing other games of chance, whether we are talking about table or slot games. Many slot enthusiasts tend to chase those big jackpot winnings, and more often than not, will ignore the importance of establishing a budget limit that helps them to stop betting if things go south. Why?

Again, players know that higher bets on certain jackpots will give them a better chance of triggering the jackpot feature, hence the hope that the money put out will be regained threefold. Although there have been cases where this has happened, placing bigger bets also means bigger losses. At the end of the day, there is no exact science to it, for as all slot players know, every single spin on every slot game is a random event – the way slots work is by using a random number generator so there is no way you can predict accurately when a jackpot will pay out.

This is not to say that seasoned players cannot spot patterns or make informed decisions on which games to bet on by looking at various criteria pertaining to the specific slot game. This can be done easily with Network Progressive Jackpots. What are they and how are they different from the typical Single Slots Jackpots?

As explained by one of the top casino review sites, CasinoTopsOnline:

“These slots draw a small portion of the bets placed by gamblers at different online casinos. All connected by the network the game runs on (such as Microgaming), playing these slots could mean that you’re feeding a jackpot along with thousands of other players. With this many bettors adding to the progressive jackpot, it can grow to be worth multiple millions.”

So how can you get better at spotting a potential win? The fastest and easiest way to do it would be by analyzing past wins. By looking at things like the size of the jackpot when it is won (for instance, finding a jackpot on a slot tends to pay out when they reach between $1 million and $3 million), or by looking at the time frame of when jackpots tend to be won, for example if they’re won every two to four months, etc. These are all things that, again, do not give any guarantees, however, they can shed some light on certain trends.

The moral of the story: Be an investor, never a chaser. Chasers are losers!

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George Epstein

After a long and productive career as a leader in the aerospace industry, upon his retirement in the 1990s, George Epstein chose poker as his “second career.” George has been widely recognized for his many significant accomplishments and contributions to our society. These include pioneering and innovations in various materials, testing and manufacturing technologies for […]


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