Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fog of War

Tommy Angelo calls it the Fog: the lack of clarity that infringes on good decision-making in the heat of battle.

The way to break through the Fog is through practice and repetition. If you know how to make the right move and anticipate your opponents' actions well, pretty soon it won't be any different to play your best in real time.

The Fog is most difficult to fight through when the pressure is on: when stacks are on the line, you're running bad, you're playing higher stakes, you're out of position, you're playing a marginal hand, the clock is ticking, or you're going with a sick read.

The best play is the play you would make if you had all the time in the world to review the hand, if you could post on forums, if you could calculate the equities and figure out how best to manipulate your opponent's range. By doing this kind of work away from the table, it's more likely the correct move will be made when it counts.

DogIsHead writes that you only really have control of three key decisions when you decide to play: game selection, state of mind and length of session. He says that your gametime strategic moves don't really constitute decisions because you should already know how you'll react before you even sit down:

It’s important to realize that at any moment you’re playing, the set of all strategies that you’d use in response to a any situation is already embedded in your brain – in a way, you don’t have control over that. That is, you can’t suddenly “decide” to use a strategy that you don’t know is a good strategy, or “decide” to not make a mistake in a spot where you’re already predisposed to make a mistake. So, for example, if you tend to call too many 3-bets with weak hands, in that moment you have no control over this leak of yours; it’s a part of your average EV in that moment. Over time you can change these predispositions and make your game slowly stronger as you gain more and more good habits and break bad ones, and your EV per hand will slowly increase over time. But in any moment, the factors over which you exert genuine control as a poker player are actually surprisingly small.
Perhaps the Fog falls under "state of mind," but it's not something DogIsHead mentions in his extensive post.

Remember to make the best decision possible. Be aware of the Fog and clear it. Anticipate possible outcomes and execute a plan just as it was constructed ahead of time.

1 comment:

spritpot said...

Drawing this artificial line between deciding when and where to play and how to play is kind of silly IMHO. I could just as easily define a set "strategy" of when and where to play that you react to in a fixed way, and define how to play once you sit down to be "decisions".