Should you chase at the poker table?

February 02, 2017, Mark Brement  

To chase or not to chase? That is the question. The term “chaser” or “chasing” in poker refers to a player who doesn’t have a made hand and needs to hit a card to complete the hand. Often enough in hold’em, this player is trying to hit a straight or a flush.

I find it odd that as players we have attached a negative connotation to a player who chases.

Avoiding chasing is part of Loss Aversion Syndrome, a disease in poker where a solid player is priced in, but chooses to fold.

This might be the invisible leak in your game, which is causing your hourly rate to suffer.

Maybe the fish who chased you down yesterday is not quite as fishy as you believe him to be. Maybe consider hiring a certified coach named Mark, who has been playing since he was mere lad, is worth consideration.

In my last column, and if you missed it go to AnteUpMagazine.com and check it out because it’s a must-read, we explored situations at the table where we’re priced in to play a speculative hand preflop.

When we play a speculative hand preflop, this is a form of chasing as we’ve decided to play because the price is right. Let’s take a look at examples where chasing is a winning play.

EXAMPLE 1: We’re in the late stages of a large deepstack event. In the big blind we hold 7-4 offsuit. There’s 21K in the pot. It’s folded to the button, who pushes all-in.

His range is 100 percent, which gives our hand a 40 percent chance to win.

We have 30K chips. We fold because 7K is a large percentage of our stack. In other words, we make a decision not to chase.

This is a huge blunder as passing up a 40 percent chance to win when we’re only paying a third means we’re priced in.

EXAMPLE 2: Johnny is playing $4-$8 limit. He’s in the BB and, after limpers, correctly calls a preflop raise with A-3 suited. But, one of the limpers now reraises in a seven-way pot, which cost each player $16.

There’s $112 in the pot preflop. A dry flop arrives with only one of his suit. There’s a bet and Johnny folds. Much to his chagrin, the cards come runner-runner to his suit and it would’ve been his biggest pot of the year. Folding here is an epic fail.

Poor Johnny had a 5 percent chance to win. You do the math.

Sometimes what appears to be a loose fish at the table is indeed a fox in the henhouse.

Sometimes you know you’re behind and you’re priced in to chase.

— Mark Brement has spent 15 years teaching and coaching all facets of poker, including at Pima CC. Email him at brementmark@gmail.com.