What’s Poker Really About, Really?

If we could teach our players just one thing, what would that be? Now I do know how challenging it can be to teach poker online, as I’ve been doing it pretty seriously for a good number of years, and players don’t always seem to grasp what we’re trying to teach them.

hidden heart of poker

The true heart of the matter

So it’s always better to try to simplify things, and with an area of study that can be as complex as playing poker is concerned, that’s not always that easy to do. However, when we look back on everything, there’s a common theme that prevails, which needs to be our main task and our main focus, and that’s taking advantage of what our opponents give us.

The art of successful poker really comes down to one skill, and that’s coming up with the correct moves against how our opponents play. So the first important thing is to figure out, as best we can, how they indeed do play, and how they are playing right now in fact.

To the extent that we can do that well, this will lay the foundation for the second task, which is to figure out how to best take advantage of these patterns in their play and then put these moves into practice.

The Mistakes Of The Common Approach

Players of all skill levels and degrees of understanding all tend to think of the game as at least somewhat disconnected with the play of opponents, to one degree or another. This is to say that they think of certain styles or moves that have some sort of value to them in themselves.

So newer players want to know what manner of playing is best, and perhaps they will get some suggestions that other players have found to be fairly successful against players that they have encountered, for instance, playing aggressively because they play against mostly tight players, or playing tight because they play mostly against looser players.

Then, as their skills start to develop, they may move away from these strategic foundations and start adapting to the play of their opponents more. So they will make adjustments in their game based upon the styles of different players, in some way or another. Still though, their fundamental assumptions about the game remain to some degree, and usually to a pretty significant one.

We’ve seen examples of how these assumptions can cause problems in at least some situations, and how basing our strategies on the tendencies of our opponents always is preferable, to the extent that we have the information to do it.

So instead of, for instance, playing tight passive out of position because that’s just the right way to play, it’s far better to realize that there isn’t a right way to play that’s independent of our opponents, period. The degree that we need to account for our opponents’ play isn’t the zero that new players start out at, or half our strategies and half adjusting, as better players move toward, this needs to be 100% focused on adapting and adjusting.

This Seems Like A Pretty Advanced Idea To Teach Our Students Though

Naturally, we aren’t going to be taking new players and turning them into poker gods or goddesses with just one simple concept like this. They aren’t going to be highly skilled at tailoring their play to their opponents in a few lessons. This will take much effort and practice.

However, it’s far better to teach players the right way to do it rather than just tell them play tight aggressive and c bet a lot and all of the other nonsense that you see other people teach them. Becoming good at poker is a learning process and a fairly long one in today’s game, at least for some people who aren’t really naturals.

So the big lesson here, and the heart of the matter, is that we get all of our advantages over time not by playing better than our opponents, in the sense that there are styles of play better than others and we’ll be using the better ones from among these. Instead, it will be because we outplay our opponents, in the sense that our opponents will be playing in a discernable way to whatever degree and we will be looking to always adapt our play to whatever that may be.

Now I’ve incorporated this philosophy throughout this series, and you may be asking why I am still harping on it, but it really is that important, and in fact is the key, not just a key, but the key to successful poker. It isn’t that hard to teach because it’s just that, a philosophy, and once you’ve explained it and start to ingrain it them all you really do is change the focus of students from a own style centric one, or a balanced one where you’re taking both your preferred style and theirs into account, to one that is solely based upon them.

From Here, Poker Nirvana Is Possible

From here, and only from here, can you achieve your full potential as a poker player. No longer will you complain that poker games these days are so tough with so many so called regulars playing them, playing in a similar way that you do, and there’s too few fish to go around.

People need to stop thinking that way and realize that both you and the other regulars are among the classification of fish, waiting to be manipulated through the proper way of playing them, and then resolve to set out to be more accomplished at that. If you were thinking properly, then such things wouldn’t even enter your mind, as you’d already be thinking that way naturally.

Sure, there will be some very good players who are simply better at adapting and adjusting than you are. You won’t be able to beat everyone, but you should be able to beat most of the people you go up against, in time at least, since most players aren’t focused upon you enough. When you focus upon them enough, then you will indeed have a significant advantage over time, which is all we can ever ask for.