Monday, April 23, 2007

Thoughts on a base strategy

I was flipping through a couple of books the other day and a came across some passages in a couple of different books that I think illustrates how the culture of poker writing has changed over the years. It's become much more pablum than it used to be, and the readers seem to like that.

Here's what two different writers, at different times, say about changing gears from a base strategy.

The first is Mike Caro in Caro's Fundamental Secrets of Winning Poker on page 57
There is such a thing as a perfect strategy. It's the one you'd use in a vacuum against other opponents who are also playing a perfect strategy. ... if you play this perfect strategy you cannot lose - even if you don't adjust to your opponents play. ... But ... (you) can make even more money by adapting


The other is by Dan Harrington in Harrington on Hold 'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 1: Strategic Play on p 36
There are several styles in which no-limit hold'em can be played. ... Depending on your personality, one of these styles will appeal to you more than others, and you'll adopt it as your basic approach to the game. However, no matter which style you adopt, you'll discover that you will make you easiest money when you make plays that are the opposite of your normal style.


Harrington's statement is actually wrong, but I'll get to that in a minute. The point I'm getting to is that they are both trying to say the same thing, but they go about getting to the point in ways that are so different that they aren't saying the same thing at all.

Caro is talking about directly exploiting mistakes of your opponents ad Harrington is also talking about exploitation, the exploitation of mistakes your opponents make in evaluating you. But Harrington couches his words in a way that makes them wrong.

You don't profit from deviating from your base strategy, you profit from playing in a way that is different from what you're opponents think your base strategy is. Just changing your own play doesn't help at all, it's about just playing different from what your opponents expect, whether it's your base strategy or not.

2 Comments:

Blogger DMW said...

In context Harrington is speaking exclusively about nlhe tournaments. I don't know if nlhe was on Caro's mind.

On the same subject, did you read Sklansky's article "it doesn't always depend" in 4 magazine? Not only did he convince me that it definetely 'depends' but his 'correct' way of playing the hand didn't seem that great to me.

I'll put it on rgp

2:02 PM  
Blogger Gary Carson said...

It doesn't matter what the game is.

Harrington's statement is even less true for a tournament because the table lineup is changing and you can't be as sure what image the other players have of you as you can be in a cash game.

I read it. He pretty much says if you know all the information you need about how your opponents will react then there's a unique solution.

That's not even true. There's a unique optimal value, but you can have two solutions with the same value.

I think what David is trying to say is that "your style" isn't part of what it depends on.

But maybe he just went off his meds and he's trying to say that the blue rock by the ferns told him to kill the dog.

2:11 PM  

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