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Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Article written by Marty Smith

Poker Calculators and Do You Suffer From the Top Pair Syndrome?

Have you noticed that in an online Multi Table Tournament (MTT) the field is pared by about half within the first hour? If you are patient through this opening session you will be able to sit back like a Prince and watch all your soldiers go to war while witnessing a few that will emerge with a chip stack. I rarely play hands during this hour and watch in amazement as player after player risk their whole stacks on draws, low pairs, connectors, and especially top pair.

Therein lays a game critical weakness of an inexperienced player. They are quick to risking their whole stack on top pair – I refer to this as the Top Pair Syndrome. Here are some likely symptoms of Top Pair Syndrome. The player in question has an urgent inner desire to double up. The player in question is simply impatient. The player in question has a tendency to bully other people. Finally the player in question doesn’t understand the true value of his cards. Keep in mind that Top Pairolitis is a result of limit ring game action, where in that venue, you are often paid off with top pair - top kicker, making it a positive EV play. The virtual opposite is true in tournaments, save for specific situations.

We are all susceptible to impatience; it is an inner enemy when playing poker. But I have seen thousands of times when in the first couple of hands, players have their whole stack on the line with AJ suited after the flops comes Jack high. Yes, they do win often, but lose just as much to someone on a silly draw, or a made set. It goes along with the philosophy of needing to double up early, or just not play the tournament. This is simply foolish.

Bullying is a negative childish behavior that percolates into adulthood. Some players take that aggression to the poker table and feel that since they had the best starting hand, it is only right that it deserves to win the pot. Let me tell you this if you don’t already know, the flop gives the whole world a new look and can render any hand useless. ANY HAND! But forcing your will with over-cards to a made hand is lunatic fringe.

Finally, many internet players truly misjudge the strength of their hands, frequently overplaying such holdings as JQs, KQs, A10, AJ, and low pairs. Had they been using a poker calculator like Holder Pirate, it would recommend folding such hands to a raise, while some others with looser settings and value pots would maybe, say call. I have seen many players in the early rounds let their tournament ride with AQ, 66, and even 22! As pro Daniel Negreanu wrote recently, “Call me crazy, but I want to see more than 2 cards before I put my whole stack on the line”
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