Gaming columnist Alan Krigman has a fascinating article about French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal’s speculation on the existence of God. Pascal concluded that of the four possible conditions, the best was to wager on the existence of God. Krigman tries to extend Pascal’s wager to gambling, particularly slot machines, and suggests that “you’re ahead if you try some strategy and it’s reliable, and no further behind if it isn’t”.
He then goes on to say that theologians have poked holes with Pascal’s wager, and Krigman shows that for most people, the idea cannot be extended to gambling. While it might seem that having any strategy at all puts you ahead compared to no strategy, feeling secure in this idea can lead you to gambling more than you would have.
This makes sense, and can be extended to Texas Hold’em poker. For example, if you wager, in the blinds, on your pocket Queens against, say 6-9 other players, you are either going to win or not. But the strategy you can wager on is betting hard up front (blinds and pre-flop), against the technique of slow-playing.
You’re assuming that the strategy of bluffing pocket Kings or Aces is going to win for you more often or not. But a seasoned poker player knows that there is the chance that an opponent may in fact have K-K or A-A, however small the odds.
An opponent with K-K is likely going to be betting hard as well, and will probably guess that you either have Q-Q and can be beaten later, or that you will have A-A, and s/he will want to bluff you back. Now if I’m your opponent and you have Q-Q and I have K-K, I’m less likely to think that you also have K-K, and that’ll affect the way I bid against you. If you’re in the blinds, you have the advantage, especially if I’m not.
So a purely mathematical strategy is never simply enough for poker. Your strategy for playing low-royalty pocket pairs (or any lower pocket pairs) must include the ability to both read others and bluff without flinching. Unless you’re playing Casino Cbet online, and then it’s more of gaining a sense of players than explicitly reading them.