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Are You Really Unlucky?

A procedure for assessing a player’s luck

by Alan Schoonmaker |  Published: Dec 25, 2009


My last column, “Bad Beats and Murphy’s Law,” stated that many people grossly overestimate their bad luck, and feeling like an unlucky victim makes them become one. They hurt their bottom line by playing scared, passive poker. When I made that point to a friend (we’ll call him Bill), he was offended and insisted that he was not exaggerating his bad luck. He told me of many hands in which he had a huge edge, but lost. He got beat by a two-outer here and by a runner-runner flush there. I said, “Your sample size is too small to matter.” He then showed me an e-mail from one of his friends, who insists that poker can’t be beat with skill. To prove it, his e-mail contained page after page of hand histories, with one bad beat after another. I said, “His hand histories mean nothing at all.” “What? How can ...

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