The path to poker enlightenment


A few years ago I become interested in Zen and how its effects could be keenly felt in poker. At about the same time then I also became interested in game theory and financial trading as well and read numerous books on all three subjects. I did this because of the similarities that I was spotting with poker. It is pretty obvious to me that my knowledge of poker was seriously lacking some years ago even though at the time I was still a good Texas Hold em player. However it doesn't really matter how good you get in the short term, there is a depth to poker which means that it can only be truly understood over a very long space of time.

Some people will disagree with this and that is their right however consider this. Just because you have been successful playing the game after studying it for a year or two does not mean that you "know" poker. I have been working on my game and studying the game for the past ten years and I still haven't got it all figured out. This is what makes the game so utterly fascinating in my mind. Each individual has their very own perception of poker, what it is, what you need to do to be good and so on. Some years ago before coaching sites existed then all you had to go on with regards to improving your play was poker books and actually playing the game.

Then the internet came along and totally revolutionised the game. What I used to do back then was read books and highlight sections or paragraphs or even sentences that I felt were pertinent. I did this so that I could go back through the book only concentrating on sections that were pertinent and so in effect quantum leap the process of re reading the book. This is not a bad technique but it does have one serious flaw. At a later point in time when I read through these books then the highlighted areas were painfully obvious but then I discovered parts of the books which were not highlighted which I didn't understand or fully comprehend the first time.

This then illuminated what was happening, I was slowly but surely evolving and on a day by day basis then it wasn't noticeable. It was only when I read back what I had highlighted that the process stood out. Poker is a very sophisticated game that is continually evolving. Many people go down the avenue of taking personal coaching these days and that is not a bad way to go. However it is not the Holy Grail for many reasons and this applies even if the coaches are at the top level. There are many things that are difficult to pass on in a short time frame and many people who took lessons from top coaches are still not making money.

This is because there is simply more to playing poker than playing your hands well. Technical poker knowledge has a finite limit because it is all too easy for intelligent people from any walk of life to become solid poker players in a relatively short time frame. It is only when you realise that to succeed in poker that it has to be seen as more than just a process of playing individual hands that you really start to move towards poker enlightenment.

A similar process happened in casino blackjack some years ago when many people thought that learning correct basic strategy and a good card counting system automatically led to profits playing blackjack. It can do…..but only when everything is aligned and in your favour. As soon as certain game conditions are missing then some very knowledgeable blackjack players were no longer making money. This is similar in many ways in poker, knowledge and "good poker" play is not a guarantee of making money if your definition of "good poker" is merely playing hands well.