If dogs could talk ….

"WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME THAT WAY?"
Image by roberthuffstutter via Flickr

Okay, yesterday I said that it was time to experience poker again. But I was still in reading and studying mode and I could not get my poker mind working as Phil Ivey had suggested I should do in his Full Tilt Poker Tip.   And now for the rest of the story.

For the last four weeks I have been reading the poker essays of Mason Malmuth and this week I finished reading his revised essay Gambling Theory and Other Topics. At the end of his book, Mason reviews and rates over 120 books on poker and over 100 books on general gambling topics. The only books he did not rate were his own or ones that he had co-authored with other poker or gambling professionals. The number one book that he recommended was The Theory of Poker written by David Sklansky.

In “The Theory of Poker”. David states the basis for this book, “The Fundemental Theorem of Poker” which is as follows.

Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents’ cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose. Converse, every time opponents play their hands differently from the way they would have if they could see all your cards, you gain; and every time they play their hands the same way they would have played if they could see all your cards, you lose.”

When my oldest son Chris was in the second grade, the teacher gave his class an assignment. Write about what dogs would say if they could talk. He refused to do it and my wife was called to a teacher’s conference to discuss it. My son told the teacher that dogs cannot talk. When the teacher asked my wife about it, my wife agreed with Chris, dogs can’t talk.  This was my initial take on seeing what cards my opponent had. I can’t see their cards and they can’t see mine. But if I want to become a better player, I need to start “seeing” their cards.

I have read this book before and I am going to finish reading it again. This appears to be a very deep think piece, but, I believe that the deeper meaning is that you need to gain the ability to read your opponents’ cards and play in a way that causes them to lose. They either lose, when you have a better hand, or they lose bets as you fold when they have a better hand.

After having read just the first four chapters, my playing at the table in both cash games, small tourneys and Sit n Go’s were affected negatively as I may have over thought the situations and not gone with my instincts.

Have you ever made decisions based on the way players acted before you, only to find that the hands they were playing were much weaker than the way they were betting? How much does prior betting affect your playing with smaller pairs or drawing hands?

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