Projecting Weakness vs. Allowing Strength

Whether it’s pocket aces or flopping the nuts, one of the skills that’s important to develop as a poker player is what to do when you have a monster hand. The primary calculation here is how to extract the most chips. (Depending on the situation, you also need to be mindful of getting blind-sided. Just how stone-cold are your nuts? If the worst-hand in poker is the second-best hand, it’s especially cruel when the second-best hand used to be the best hand possible.)   

That said, there’s still a ton of nuance involved just by focusing on extracting the most chips possible. The check-raise seems most natural, but projecting this much strength will also end up scaring off a lot of would-be bettors. Many pros will bet-out in the hopes of disguising their true strength, while also growing the size of the pot. If the opponent folds, you can legitimately question how many chips they were ever going to put in the pot anyway. The check-call also has the advantage of ensuring you keep the opponent on the hook for at least another betting round. Your opponent may perceive weakness on your part and potentially increase the strength of their own hand inducing them to bet on subsequent betting rounds.  

The board also plays a role in the relative wisdom of each type of decision. If you’re holding a pair and you flop the top set, for example, it’s essential that you look at the rest of the board. If there are straight and flush draws already on the board, I’m more likely to bet-out. If there are limited or no flush and straight draws on the board, I’m more likely to check and see if my opponent will make a bet. Even still, the advantage of any particular strategy is muted by becoming too predictable in your play overall.  

So, how does this principle apply to other areas of life? Well, let’s say you’re dealing with office politics and that always touchy subject of taking and getting credit for your work. You want to make sure you get your due credit, while also seeming like a team player, right? This is why I like to consider the relative ease or difficulty in someone taking credit for my work. Simply put, if I know it would be extremely hard or risky for someone to take credit for my work, I’m more likely to get my head down and wait for someone to notice with the intent of getting extra points for my discretion. Conversely, I’ll be more on the lookout for opportunities to mention my work when I think there’s a danger of someone butting in.