Sometimes in poker your strategy will involve doing various things some of the time. How do you make random poker decisions? If you use poker solvers you will notice it usually does not say you should always raise these hands, always call with these hands, and always fold the rest. Instead for any given hand it may say something like raise 46%, call 34%, fold 10%. In real life, of course it would be impossible to think like a solver, let alone implement this (especially in live games, without a random number generator). However, there will certainly be times when for example you may want to call with a particular hand half the time, and fold the other half of the time. Or maybe you want to raise 1/3 of the time, and just call 2/3 of the time.
Humans struggle to make random decisions
Let’s say you have decided you want to make a truly random play – 1/3 of the time you will raise, 2/3 of the time you will fold. You are in the middle of a hand, how do you decide which to do? Maybe you decide to think of a random number in your mind between 1 and 3. If it’s a 1 then you raise, but if it’s a 2 or 3 then you call. However, there are a number of problems with this. First, how can you possibly expect to randomly pick a number in your head? Secondly, what if for example even though you believe the correct strategy is to raise 1/3 of the time, you are more in your comfort zone in smaller pots – won’t you be tempted to ‘randomly’ pick a 2 or 3. There is absolutely no way you could make a random decision in your head.
Ways to make random poker decisions
We are sure mathematicians would argue that none of the methods below come up with a truly random number (not even the random number generator tools), however, for all intents and purposes these methods are random enough.
Use a random number generator
UnfairPoker.com recommends this method is the best way to randomly making decisions when playing online.
There are many free tools online that can generate random numbers. You could specify that the tool generates a whole number between 1 and 100 for example, if you wanted to do some action some exact percentage of the time.
This method is best for online players as it is the fastest method of picking a random number – you could have the random number generator open at all times ready to use. You might be able to download a tool, to insert a random number generator into your poker tables at your preferred online cardroom.
Toss a coin, or roll a die
We’ll include this one, but we don’t think it the best method whether you are playing live or online. It works, however the RNG method is quicker for live players, and for live players usually it is better to not draw any unnecessary attention to yourself during a hand as you might give away information. Also, you will have to remember to keep a die or coin at hand. If you have a 50-50 split, tossing a fair coin in a fair way will help. A die may be more useful. For example not only can you do 50-50 splits (e.g. 1-3 do something, 4-6 do the other thing), you could do 1/3 – 2/3 splits (e.g. 1-2 for option A, and 3-6 for option B) etc.
Use the second hand of a clock or watch, or the number of second shown on digital watches
UnfairPoker.com recommends this method is used by live players to make random poker decisions (it is really discreet, and quick).
If you have a 50-50 decision, you would do one thing between 0-29 seconds, and another between 30-59 seconds. Or, for a 1/3 – 1/3 – 1/3, whether it was 0-19, 20-39, or 40-59 seconds would make your decisions for you.
To make it fair, all you have to do is to look at the clock or watch, only when you have decided on what splits you are using.