Monday, March 10, 2008

More Elements of Poker

Don't forget!!

The BBT3 rolls into second week starting tonight at 10pm ET, with the latest edition of Mondays at the Hoy on full tilt to kick off another exciting week in blonkaments. Once again the format tonight will be 6-max no-limit holdem, the buyin will again be $26, and the password as always is "hammer". So come one and come all in tonight's battle to win the coveted 5th of 55 entries into the BBT-ending Tournament of Champions, where not one, not two, not three but four 2008 World Series of Poker seats will be awarded to the top four finishers, including two 12k packages to the Main Event itself.

I thought today I would throw up some more Tommy Angelo poker wisdom today. Like I said on Friday, this book is really speaking to me, in a way that most non-hard-strategy poker books do not.

Some of Angelo's best stuff in his book Elements of Poker involves dealing with tilt, managing the flow of information to and from yourself, and talking about streaks. Poker is a streaky game as most of you have had occasion to find out in your poker playing careers. But what really is a "streak"? Is it something that you can ever define in the present tense, really? Here is Angelo, on everyone's poker streaks:

None of them actually exist. They are all mental fabrication, like past and future. Everything that ever happens happens in the present tense. But how can you have a "streak" in the present tense? You can't. And therefore, if you are in the present tense, which, in fact, at this time, you are, then at this moment there is no streak in your life. There is no inherent existence to streaks. The streak is there when you think about it, and when you stop thinking about it, it goes away. It blossoms and withers, all in your mind. And when your mind invents a streak, you believe it exists, because you believe what your mind tells you. But the truth is there is only the hand you are playing."

IMO this is a very helpful and somewhat unique spin on a topic that just about everyone who plays this game with any level of seriousness has to grapple with from time to time.

Another common topic of Angelo's in Elements of Poker is the exchange of information. Generally speaking, Angelo shares my philosophy of trying never to give away information at the table about my poker game to anyone else unless they pay for it. Of course the Hammer being excepted from all this, but otherwise I strive to attain when Angelo describes as the ultimate information mindset that he thinks of as "mum poker", saying nothing and showing nothing. Here is Angelo discussing showing cards needlessly when folding:

When you fold face up, the message that is sent to the table, whether you intend it or not, and whether you realize it or not, is this: 'Dear table of people. It is very important what you think of me'....If you always fold face down without ever showing even one card to anyone, the message that is sent, and received, whether you intend it or not and whether you realize it or not, is this: 'I don't care what you think about how I play. I don't even card what I think about how I play. Oh, and by the way, I am impervious to everything.'"

Again, it is so true. When you show a card, even trying to be tricky by only showing strong hands when you're really a rampant bluffer or whatever, what you're really saying more than anything else is that it matters to you what the others at the table think of you, of what or how you're playing, etc. I have to agree with Angelo that simply never showing a card to anyone at the table, for any reason and under any circumstances, is the clearly superior result from a pure poker perspective. Just play your game, and don't even mind yourself with trying to create a particular image of you in your opponents' minds. I just try to always be conscious of what my opponents' likely assumptions are about my play given the cards that I have been forced to show during the recent action, and make my decisions accordingly based on those likely assumptions.

And here is one of my absolute favorite passages in Elements of Poker, again on the subject of controlling the information that you give out about your game, with specific reference to online poker:

Let's say you wanted to make it more likely that you will make misclick mistakes. And that you wanted to increase the probability that you will be distracted from the game and miss something important. And let's say you wanted to disclose information to your opponents about yourself that will help them play better against you. How might you achieve all these goals with one action? Chat. (emphasis added)

How can you not love that quote right there? So many people make egregious errors in the chat during my regular online poker trials and tribulations, I am at a constant loss as to why they would do such a thing. People I thought were donkeys actually indicating that they know a little something about structured hand analysis, for example, or someone I thought seemed to be playing smart poker suddenly making an idiotic comment about his 49% hand getting "sucked out on", etc. And even if you're not giving away any useful information about yourself in what you are chatting in the chatbox online (blonkaments excluded, of course), think about the beginning of Angelo's quote above. Think about how many times your chatting has caused you to misclick, to click an action on another table that you did not intend to make, or just generally to not be paying attention as closely as you wish you had been. The best advice to give on this point is simply not to chat except if it clearly advantages you, which will almost never be the case.

OK that's all for today. I've got some good hands that I'd like to seek opinions on coming up this week, but for today I will get this thing posted and move on to tomorrow. See you tonight at 10pm ET for Mondays at the Hoy on full tilt!

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Blogger RaisingCayne said...

Good stuff! Thank you.

See you at the MATH this evening! Good luck getting your TOC seat!

6:25 AM  
Blogger Blinders said...

Thats why I have been playing with the "Automuck" button checked for years. It keeps you from being tempted to show. The worst offense by us bloggers is showing the hammer. If playing the hammer is such a great move, there is no reason to show it is there? But you don't really believe that at all, do you? You have raved in the past about how +EV the hammer is. I can only assume you mean by showing it early to put others off thier game. I still have never seen a substantial PokerTraker DB that showed the hammer as +EV by itself. Wow got a hammer bash in without even trying.

11:47 PM  

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