Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back To The Edge

Yes, I must be OCD, as I often can't get simple things out of my head until they are just so...

...which brings me back to the topic of Edge. A few months ago, I blogged about the four types of edge that a player can exploit at the table (here). My reason for that post was to list specific areas that a player could work on to improve his or her game. The four edges I listed at the time were Hand Equity, Position, Proficiency, and Discipline.

The more I've thought about this topic since then, however, the more I think I got it wrong. In fact, I now believe there are seven Edges that we can improve upon and use to our advantage at the poker tables. Here's my latest thinking:

  1. Positional Hand Strength. I combined position and hand strength into one category, as they are so intimately and strongly linked together. If I play more selectively than you--meaning stronger hands in position--I will win more at showdown. I will have easier decisions to make, be able to control the pot size better, and be able to bluff more easily than you.
  2. Initiative. This one is new... sorta. The fifth commandment is to be aggressive, which is a manifestation of taking initiative in a hand. Against weaker opponents, if you take control of the hand you can often get them to lay down better hands. Winning poker is played primarily on offense and the better I am at seeing opportunities to take control--and then actually taking it--the more money I will make than someone who plays a defensive style.
  3. RED-i. This is old news for anyone reading my blog in recent months. If I'm better at reading, estimating, deciding and implementing than you are, I will make more money from you than then other way 'round. Note that I originally called this "Proficiency" edge, but I think that term is better served by splitting it up into three parts:  "RED-i" and numbers 4 and 5 on this list, Deception and Adjustment.
  4. Deception. Remember, your opponents are using their own form of RED-i on you during the course of a hand. The best players in the world are those that can't be read by their opponents. 
  5. Adjustment. The best players are also the ones that adjust their play based on the how their opponents are adjusting their own games. This encompasses the concepts of shifting gears and playing the player. If I see you tightening up, I should loosen up my game accordingly. If I see you starting to tilt, I should continue to push you. Winning poker is dynamic, not static. 
  6. Preparation. Aka Off-Table Work. Short-term and long-term prep, both mental and physical are incredibly important to winning poker. Reading, studying, talking poker away from the tables. Getting physically fit. Warming up just prior to a game, and then doing post-mortems after a game. These are all necessary steps on the path to profit. I will have an edge over you if I do these things and you don't.
  7. Discipline. Being able to embrace RDM and bad beats. Not tilting. Not forcing things at the table. Patience. Bankroll management. Paying attention. Having the ability to fold winners. Having the first six edges nailed won't mean a whit if you can't get this one right.
All-in for now...

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