Monday, June 05, 2006

Rambling thoughts about what's important in poker



I've been reading a book called How the Mind Works
How the Mind Works



He talks about how our mind makes distinctions between
artifacts and thinking beings. We naturally attribute
the movement of a rock to physics, to a strong wind or
gravity. We naturally attribute the movement of a
person to emotion or goals -- looking for something or
was uncomfortable. It's inate for us to make that
distinction, infants do it. Peoples actions are based
on internal thoughts, things move because of physical
forces.

Somehow we lose that natural ability when we play
cards.

Sklansky invented the term "levels of thinking" to
describe the act of attributing thoughts to our
opponents. What do we have? What do they have? What
do they think we have? What do they think we think
they have? etc. He described that as something we
should strive to do -- think in multiple levels.

But 2 and 3 year olds do that naturually. They don't
have to try. They know that when people do something
they do so becuase of internal thoughts, emotions,
goals, desires.

But, when we're playing cards we seem to natually
focus on the cards themselves rather than the people.

Cards don't make bets, people do.

Why do we focus on the cards rather than the people?

I'm not sure.

But, that's what I've been thinking about recently.

I'm writing a book on small blind no limit hold'em.
I'm started out by organizing the book around different types of
sterotypical opponents. I'm not sure it's going to end up with that structure, but using that structure helped me get started with the book.

I was watching a 1/2 blind game one night for a
while. One hand was striking to me. An EP player
made it 12. A late position player (sitting next to a
friend of mine I was talking to) called, and a very
tight player in the BB called. Flop was As Js 4c.
Check, EP made it 20, LP called, BB raised to 40,
call, call. Turn was a blank. BB bet 50, EP called,
LP looked at his hand. He had Ks 6s and he had $32
left. The pot was $250, $210 of which he could play
for. 7-1 on his money for a nut flush draw. He
folded. He knew he'd probably go broke if he called
and he didn't want to go broke.

He wanted to win, but he wasn't willing to make good
bets to do so if the bet meant he probably wouldn't
win -- he was willing to give up EV in exchange for a
reduction in the short term probability of going
broke.

That kind of player needs to be identified and studied
-- he needs to be exploited.

I think that's much more important that the relative
merits of KTs and 77.

So, what you probably need to do rather than read another book on poker is spend some time getting a focus on the players you
usually find in the lineup of your usual game.

Who are they? Pick out a handful that have names,
give a one paragraph description of them at the table
-- what are their goals and how do they try to acheive
those goals? It's time well spent.

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