Testing you opponents, the power of keen observation, project a strong table image--these areas have been discussed in other books, but rarely with such keen examples, in short powerful bursts of advice.
My wife and I went to see the move Match Point the other day which I highly recommend. I won’t spoil the movie but I won’t be giving anything away to say that one of the underlying themesDavid Apostolico is the author of 'Machiavellian Poker Strategy', and 'Tournament Poker and The Art of War,' and his latest title 'Poker Strategies for a Winning Edge in Business.' David's website is www.holdemradio.com/blog/ of the movie is how much luck is a factor in our lives. The movie makes the argument that luck is perhaps a bigger factor than any of us care to accept. I won’t get into a discussion about how big a factor luck is in our every day lives, but certainly luck plays a major role in poker. Poker is a skill game and over the long run I believe the luck evens out. What separates winners from losers in poker is how one deals with luck. I think it’s extremely important to recognize (whether you are running bad or good) how much a factor luck is playing. The idea is to remain emotionally detached and objective and concentrate on making good decisions. Don’t let lucky results ruin your objectivity. If you make a correct decision and lose the hand, so be it. Conversely, if you make a poor decision and win, don’t let that mask your sloppy play. Learn from the mistake and correct it. It’s also extremely important to know how much of a factor luck is playing in your opponent’s success. If a player is getting extremely luck and is otherwise not that good, then remain patient for your opportunity.
This past weekend I played a home game poker tournament. We had 7 players and it was winner take all. I was not dealt one premium hand all night but I still won. One player was getting extremely lucky. He was playing well but the other players kept handing him their chips with really bad plays. I remained patient hoping to get head’s up with this lucky player and sure enough I did. I was out chipped about 4 to 1 but I still liked my chances. I switched gears and became extremely aggressive. No one had put him to the test like that all night and he did not know what to do. By being aggressive, I was able to eat away at his stack. Once I sensed he was growing tired of my act and ready to take a stand, I made sure I had a decent hand to go up against. I finally caught him moving all-in with K-6 suited when I had A-J. I called and doubled up to take a substantial lead. After that, it did not take long to end things.
There is a great exchange of lines in the movie Match Point where one character states that “despair is the path of least resistance” and another character counters that “faith is the path of least resistance.” I found the exchange interesting and when it comes to poker, I think both are accurate. If you are afraid of getting unlucky in poker, you have no chance. If you are waiting to get lucky, you have no chance, either. Sure, you need some luck to win a big tournament. However, if you don’t have skill and play well, no amount of luck is going to help you. Have faith in your abilities to outplay your opponents and the luck will even out in the long run.
Machiavelli was the first philosopher/statesman to write about the affect of luck in our lives. He also was one of the first to state that we can control luck to a certain extent by preparing for it and dealing with its consequences. In my book Machiavellian Poker Strategy, I have an entire chapter on this subject as it relates to poker. Play to win, don’t rely on luck but learn to deal with it (both good and bad).
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