Poker, Sports, and Science
Poker has certainly changed! Every aspect of poker is studied to the nth degree and then studied some more. To become really good at poker, a player needs to study the game a lot. Even Footy has changed! Juicy Stakes Poker Australia - well, all of Juicy Stakes - will look at the science behind modern day sports.
Getting an Edge on Opponents
Science and math have taken over so many sports because they are the fastest way to get an edge over an opponent. Science is all about measuring so the sports that lend themselves best to measurements are the most likely to become dominated by science.
Such terms as expected value, pot odds, and so on are easily quantified. Still, there are still a lot of subjective elements in poker.
Let’s take a quick look at how poker has changed and then we will look at baseball and chess, two sports that are possibly the most analyzed and measurable sports around.
Playing by Feel
We still have to rely on “feel” in many decisions in poker. But the mathematics and analytical side of poker have come to dominate online discussions about poker.
The most subjective side of poker is still how to bluff, when to bluff, whom to bluff, and which cards can you bluff with in which position. As subjective as bluffing is and has always been, there is a wealth of literature available free or to buy that attempts to “scientifically” explain the ins and outs of bluffing.
It is interesting that so many poker players have taken these analyses to heart that they use them regularly which means that the average player has to have at least a passing acquaintance with the nuances of bluffing theory!
There are Bets, There are Raises, and There are Three Bets
There was time when we never used the term three bet. Now, everyone needs to know the nuances of three bets from every position, every street, compared to the size of the player’s stack, compared to the stack size of opponents who are still in the hand, and—here subjectivity finally enters the fray—what that player’s and his or her opponents’ playing habits are.
Betting in Early Position
There are poker “textbooks” that purport to know how every player should play. We are told to stay in before the flop only with a small handful of hands.
This advice has fallen on hard times as it inexorably leads to players becoming easy to read. Every player needs to know how to call or raise in early position. There is a famous hand in which Daniel Negreanu “read” the hand. He “knew” that his opponent had to have either pocket fours or pocket sixes! Watch it here.
Becoming Amateur Psychologists
In the old days, people played poker based on their life experience. You knew what you knew. Nowadays, we play poker based on other people’s life experience and based on yet other people’s research into other people’s life experience.
We need to become as expert in the psychology of decision making and many other areas of human behavior that together go into a single poker decision.
Has Chess Been Figured Out?
There is a horrible feeling among some professional chess players that chess has been figured out by powerful computers. We already know the first ten or so moves in all of the strong openings.
We know how to play the weak openings to gain an advantage on an opponent foolish enough to play an offbeat but weak opening.
The television mini-series “The Queen’s Gambit” is as much about the rarified level of chess grandmasters as it is about the young female chess prodigy who becomes the World Champion. In the world of grandmasters, everyone is looking constantly for a small angle that perhaps ten moves down the road will create a minuscule advantage in position or in power that will ultimately turn the game.
So, for most people, chess remains a mystery but for the crème de la crème chess is no longer a grand mystery. It has become “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”.
Baseball and the Way of the Scout
It used to be that major league baseball teams in the United States scoured the countryside looking for athletes who could run fast, catch a hard hit baseball, throw well, and possibly show demonstrative signs of baseball hitting ability. It was all subjective, based on observation.
Many future great stars in major league baseball were “discovered” in this way.
Then, a statistician convinced a baseball executive to look deeply into the implications of statistics on long term baseball success.
Baseball success can be summed up as the ability of a team, composed of players trying to maximize their individual contributions to the common good, in order to either produce one more run than the opposing team produces or to prevent a single run from being produced by the opponent.
There is a new statistic called Defensive Runs Saved that measures specific defensive ability.
One run in baseball is a very big deal. One run is created by a player advancing 90 feet four times. This can be accomplished all at once as in a home run or incrementally.
A team with few players who can hit a lot of home runs has to have a lot of players who can advance a teammate 90 feet whenever they are called upon to do so. In other words, a baseball team that has to take the advancements one by one, has to have players who can do that.
This is the type of “skill” that modern baseball managers and executives take into consideration when they evaluate players.
A perfect case in point is the failure of the Chicago Cubs to repeat as World Series Champions since their ground-breaking win in 2016. There are several factors that have contributed to the team’s downfall but none is greater than the team’s inability, as 25 individual players, to effect 90 foot advances of teammates in the pursuit of valuable runs.
How Poker Reflects Chess and Baseball
In poker, every player has to rely on himself or herself to “find” the next best play. In both chess and baseball, players and teams are constantly looking for very small advantages that can result in that little extra that in many cases is the difference between winning and losing.
In poker, we are all looking for the same type of advantage: something undetectable to the naked eye and to pure subjective observation. The science and math of poker is there to help players find those tiny differences that can save money on losing hands and can enhance one’s stack in winning situations.
Juicy Stakes Poker and the Subtleties of Poker
Juicy Stakes offers poker for every skill level, every stakes level, and for players who can play from every so often to very, very often. We offer tournaments in the classic variations of poker.
All it takes to join is to fil out a simple form and away you go! Always make it your poker goal to learn something new every day because every little bit helps!