Chasing for glory

First posted: Friday, Feb 2, 2007 

Today, I’m following up on something that I briefly mentioned in the last entry….. chasers.

Now, these people are the scourge of online poker in my book. I detest them! But, thinking about them I soon realised that I used to be one of them, and more than likely you will have been at some point too.

So, what exactly is a chaser?

A chaser is someone who will refuse to lay down their cards when they know they are behind and when the odds are stacked against them making a winning hand. Play ANY low stakes game of hold’em and you will see what I mean. Here’s a very basic example of chasing…….

Just say I’m holding AK of diamonds and raise the pot 3x the big blind and say the chaser is on the big blind holding Q9 of clubs and decides to call. We have roughly the same amount in chips.

The flop (first 3 community cards) shows Ac Kc 4d.

You will normally find the chaser checking this flop as they haven’t hit and have only got a flush draw. I raise 5x the big blind. The chaser would probably call, which isn’t that bad a call considering they have 9 outs (35% chance) of hitting their flush – and it would be the NUT flush – the best hand possible. So now that they have called, the turn card is shown….

Turn is 7s

This helps no-one and I’m an overwhelming favourite to win this hand with my 2 pair. So I bet out the value of the pot. This should set alarm bells ringing in the chasers head! But no, all they can think is ‘If I get a club, I win!’ They very rarely stop and think about the negative side to calling this bet. They don’t stop to think what I could be holding, even though I’ve been betting VERY strongly right from the very start of the hand. So, they call my bet, leaving them in severe peril of busting out of the game.

This is the chasing part I’m referring to. Now, its totally irrelavent what card comes up on the river, whether its a club or not. It’s the actions taken by the chaser when the odds are stacked against them that’s the problem. Chasing cards like this is sure to reduce your bankroll very quickly. Sure you might suckout and make your hand, but believe me, in the long run, you will lose – guarenteed!

The difference between good poker players and lucky poker players is that the good ones will use all of the information going to determine how they should play a hand. Taking the example above, lets reverse the roles. Lets say I’m the one on the big blind holding Q9 clubs and I call the initial raise.

After the flop, if the other player has raised, I will sit and think about a few things.

  1. What could that player possibly hold? If you’ve been watching the table, or if it’s someone you regularly play against, you should have a good idea of how they play. My initial instinct would be that they are definately holding and Ace, but other possibles could be AA, AK or KK. And I can deduce from this is that if they are holding an A or a K, they obviously can’t be clubs. This suits me going for my flush.
  2. How much is it going to cost me, and are the pot odds and the probability of me making my flush good enough for me to call? If they player goes ‘All-in’ after the flop, I would have no hesitation in folding, even though I’ve got quite a reasonable chance of hitting one of my outs. There’s no point puting what could be your tournament life on the line hoping to catch one of only 9 cards in the remaining 47. Fold it and wait for a better spot. However, if you have a big stack and its not going to hurt me too much I might consider a call here.

We’ll follow the first example again and there is a pot sized raise after the turn card. I now only have roughly a 19% chance to make my flush on the next card, and its going to cost me big time to call. Time to call it a day and fold the hand. I know the other player is way ahead of me and is probably willing me to call. They will know I’m a huge underdog at this moment. Don’t get caught up in it.

This is a very basic example of how chasers operate. You will find that chasers tend to play drawing hands like flushes and straights all the time. They don’t bother learning pot odds and probabilities. They like to go for a gamble – basically try their luck. Don’t get drawn into this way of playing. As I said, you might get lucky on occasions but you will definately lose more often than not. 

In closing, if you think about how you play and realise you might be in the bracket of being a ‘chaser’, it’s time to re-assess your playing style. Learn the basics of poker and work out your odds and probabilities before comitting your chips to a pot that you have only a slim chance of winning. Its will stand you in good stead in the long term. Its basic strategy in its simplest form.

And try not to berate players who chase and suckout on the river. You probably used to be one! You’ve just learned how NOT to do it!


anonymous (unverified): Being both ashame of probably been one and proud of learning how to fold even strong hands now knowing odds and probability I say You’re absolutely right on here!In the long run it isn’t worth it to chase!
Feb 23, 2007, 06:23 AM
netsson: Oh and by the way i missed putting my name on the comment i just made, don’t like to be anonymous
Feb 23, 2007, 06:24 AM

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