Sunday, February 19, 2006

No Credit

First things first:

Go check out scurvydog's new poker forum, Kickered. It's pretty damn new, but I think it has a lot of potential for strategy discussion, data sharing and general ways for us to improve our games.

We're all in this together ... until we sit at the same table.

Which brings me to the today's topic:

Mark's Fundamental Theorem of Poker: They're all fish.

I've been questioning my theorem recently, not because I think it's factually incorrect, but because it conveys an outlook that may not be +EV.

Poker shows better than most things in life that people make irrational decisions. Many times, it's because players don't know what the correct move is. Other times, it's because players know the correct move but can't bring themselves to do it. They want to see the showdown, they don't want to be bluffed, they're on tilt, etc.

Those reasons are usually justified by faulty logic. But that doesn't mean that they're senseless.

Most things happen for a reason. That reason may not necessarily be correct, but it's usually not completely irrational either.

It reminds me of my high school German teacher. He liked to talk about current events and stories of his past, and then ask the class what we thought about the people involved and what life lessons they could teach. Many times, the class' response was, "Well, the people in your story are crazy. Why would they do that?"

That drove my German teacher mad because the people weren't crazy. They had motives for everything they did.

There are plenty of non-sensical plays made every day at the poker tables. But each one of them has some kind of reason behind it. People say to themselves, "I'll check-raise the turn and fold to a re-raise." "I'll re-raise this fish no matter what cards I have." "If a suited card falls, I'll fold." "The hammer is a great hand."

I think I got a little off-topic there, but what I'm trying to say is that the perspective that everyone else is a fish could lead you to underestimate your competition. But if your competition is fishy, shouldn't you widen your playing standards, call down more, bluff less and try to get the most out of marginal hands?

Equally as dangerous as underestimating your opponents is overestimating them by folding to re-raises all the time, failing to bet the turn or river or playing weakly when you should be strong.

I don't think I'm going anywhere with this, except to say that it's hard to accurately assess exactly how good or bad your opponents are. In general, know that your opponents will make plenty of bad mistakes, but most players are also usually trying to tell you a straightforward message by their betting patterns.

The challenge of hand reading, one of the most important skills in poker, is to interpret the betting message through fishy glasses.

What are they trying to tell you? Why are they doing what they're doing? There is a reason for their action, no matter how suspect. And that will give you a clue about whether it's appropriate to raise, call or fold.


Victor_Enriq said...

I finally have enough time to hang around the web and post you something.

The photographs are a great idea.

Other than that I'm looking forward to march when i'll finally be able to play poker again.

I went away to Concepcion, about 500 miles south of Santiago, to unplug before my trip to Cuba (this thursday)

Hopefully I'll be back March the 7th so we can catch up on life and poker issues. Apparently I'll be living once again the family nest soon enough (too much trouble as you may know by experience)

Best of Luck


FatBaldGuy said...

You hit it on the head. People always have a reason for what they do. You might think it is a dumb reason, but at the instant they made it, it was what they thought was the right thing to do.

Yet another good reason not to tap on the glass.

kurokitty said...

I believe that picture is Camp Kitty! Yay!