Monday, November 14, 2005


There is in all things a pattern that is part of our universe. It has symmetry, elegance, and grace--those qualities you find always in that which the true artist captures. You can find it in the turning of the seasons, in the way sand trails along a ridge, in the branch clusters of the creosote bush or the pattern of its leaves. We try to copy these patterns in our lives and our society, seeking the rhythms, the dances, the forms that comfort. Yet, it is possible to see peril in the finding of ultimate perfection. It is clear that the ultimate pattern contains its own fixity. In such perfection, all things move toward death.
--from "The Collected Sayings of Muad'Dib" by the Princess Irulan

There are countless rules of thumb in poker, but one holds true more than the rest. That rule is, "It depends."

One of the most dangerous things you can do in poker is fall into patterns. No situation is exactly the same. No two opponents are the same. No flop texture is the same. Small differences in the previous action of the hand, the table composition and position can change everything. For example, these factors can change an easy fold to a ballsy raise that results in a huge win.

I remember reading somewhere that poker is counterintuitive to the way most people naturally think. People want to look for patterns in their behaviors, and they try to base future actions on their results. Many times, this kind of thinking leads to poker death. It brings about results-oriented thinking and loose, passive play. People are more likely to remember their successes than their failures. A fish will remember the time his 10-2 suited led to a flush and a huge pot, but then that fish will forget the 10 other times that 10-2 suited led to nothing.

It's more correct to learn the correct play, understand the reasons for it, and then disregard the results. The difficulty is that at the end of the year, when you look down at your wins and losses, the bottom line is what's important. But with study and analytical thinking, a poker player's goal is to make the right move at the right time and resist the impulse to do things like automatically call down or always play Aces the same way.

Another pattern that I try not to fall into is the advance action buttons on every site. Those are the boxes where you can place a check mark to automatically bet, check or fold when the action comes to you. These are dangerous because they can give off tells if other people can intuit what your future action will be. More importantly, when you use the advance action buttons, you are making a decision before you know what everyone else has done ahead of you. Sometimes, a folding hand becomes a betting hand if everyone else checks. Or a pot will grow large enough to give you odds to continue that you didn't have previously. I've come to believe that these actions often determine the difference between a winning and losing session. Those one or two pots extra pots are critical to a winning poker game.

Patterns are the easy way out, especially when multi-tabling. But evaluating each situation as an independent event opens doors to +EV plays that otherwise would not have existed.


Grinder said...

Before I was "into" poker I was a BlackJack player. Had a team actually and we used several counting systems.

When I turned to poker I talked a BJ buddy to check out hold'm. His problem was he was used to exact strategy. He still is with Pre-flop charts. When this happens then you do that.

He is a Rainman when it comes to numbers and remember thigns but it's hard to him to . . . .gamble.

Victor_Enriq said...

10-2? Are you criticizing my post about "winning the live game"!


I think that could be the only poker truth... "it all depends"