Don't Be a Faith-Based Player

Poker is like science. The only way to move forward is to relentlessly delve into the unknown while constantly questioning the known. This is true on a personal scale as well as for the collective poker consciousness. Isn't it odd how often the accepted "right" strategy changes? It's not like the deck or the rules have changed. 

Poker is a game that suffers from some serious group think. Poker is a game played socially and discussed frequently. Both of those facts mean that we will be constantly confronted by other people's opinions about how poker should be played. A lot of times, listening to someone's opinion will be the easiest way to grow. However, taking someones word without doing your own due diligence means you will certainly not fully understand your own strategy, and could very possible lead to you playing suboptimally even if you are executing your strategy.

Taking that scientific approach to one's own game is really the key for personal growth. Every time we act, we either had a reason or we didn't. When we don't know why we made an action, that is part of the unknown. It's a call for a closer look under the microscope. Break down your opponent's range. Is your strategy balanced? Trying to uncover the unknown will sharpen your poker skills and get you closer to the right answer.

What about when we do have a strategy? A lot of the time, it's much harder to identify leaks in our known strategy than our unknown strategy. Anything unknown is a leak. The known is much trickier. 

First of all, what does it mean to know why you are doing something? For one, it means you have at least some tangible, explainable reason for your action. Maybe I bet because I thought my opponent would fold. That certainly is not foolproof logic. Maybe your opponent wasn't likely to fold. Still, that is a concrete reason. 

At Just Hands we recommend considering the ranges of your opponent and yourself when making decisions in poker. Range-based evidence for decision making will often be rigorous and precise. While your assumptions may be incorrect, you will still have established a firm framework for your decision.

The final step in evaluating one's preconceived strategies is to constantly question your assumptions. Will your opponent fold 88 to a two-barrel on J935r? A combination of experience, contemplation, and discussion will constantly change, and likely improve these assumptions. 

Poker will always reward the most inquisitive minds. It's difficult to gain an edge relying on others to tell us what to do. Be the person who realizes that betting 10% pot can be extremely effective. Discover for yourself why open-limping AKo in MP could be a winning strategy at 5/10 at the Aria (not necessarily advocating this strategy, but I'll certainly be considering it).