Texas Hold'em is a magnificent game of strategy and chance. Like the personalities, aspirations and abilities of the players, each hand is different.
Sometimes the only path to victory is to hold the best hand. And sometimes a player is able to execute strategies that will allow him to win even if both of his hole cards are blank.
Over time a player will receive the same cards and opportunities as any other player. Each player at the table has access to the same information as all other players at the table. The degree to which a player will triumph over the table depends on his ability to
1. Process and weigh available information as inputs into his decision support system
2. Devise and implement strategies based on that information.
Hold'em is the one poker variation that rewards skill and understanding above all others.
Basic poker odds and probability processing will tell the astute player some measure of
- The relative strength of his hand
- The likelihood that his hand will improve
- Some idea of what his opponents are holding.
Simple observations will give the astute player a reasonable idea of the likely actions of opponents in certain situations. The poker artiste will use this information plus his advanced gamesmanship to execute strategies that will give him a much higher expectation.
The best poker decisions are those based on the best strategy and the best strategy is based on the best information. Game theory teaches that strategic thought is mostly about the anticipation of the actions and reactions of your opponents.
Basic odds and probabilities tell a player much about his own hand and its likelihood of success. Those same odds apply individually and collectively to all other players at the table.
It is around the margins of strong hands where a game is optimized. The degree to which a player is able to success - fully model an opponent's likely strength and - from past observations - is able to predict the opponent's likely response is equal to the degree to which he will be able to get optimal return from almost any hand he chooses to play.
The key to enhancing the return from any player's game is learning to weigh all available information to profitably play an otherwise marginal hand.
Adapted for poker, various translations of the writings of Sun Tzu have loosely stated that, if in every situation of battle a player
- knows more about his own strengths, weaknesses and intentions than is known by his opponents;
- knows as much about his opponents strengths, weaknesses and intentions as is known by his opponents themselves; and
- has the Too, in the case of poker - the odds/expectation, on his side;
then, that player will triumph in battle after battle.
While a study of the Odds can do much to help you predict the Cards to come, it is from a study of your Opponents that you can surmise much about the Action to come.
All players get the same number of good hands. It is the rare and, oftentimes, extremely successful player who can win pots with very strong hands and very weak hands alike.
The most valuable ability in all of poker is the ability to win without having the best hand.
Basic calculations will explain how often the player will see certain starting hands, how often those starting hands will complete into winning hands and whether certain hands are worth drawing to from a money/expectation perspective.
Those same basic calculations speak volumes about the likely strength of the opponents. When combined with the knowledge of how a given opponent has behaved in the past, the artiste can anticipate his opponent s strength and likely action or reaction.
A player's Total Odds of winning the pot combine his odds that he has or will have the best hand with his odds of being able to manipulate his opponents out of the hand.