Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Easy Game

I'm currently in Spain on the first leg of a hellish two week long biz trip that will literally take me from one side of the globe to the other, with twelve-hour time zone changes. To ease the pain a tiny bit, I brought a copy of Easy Game (third edition) by Andrew "Baluga Whale" Seidman with me on my Kindle to read in jet-lagged stupor.  [Click here to see the book on Amazon]

I had previously skimmed copies of the first two editions of the book Seidman wrote back in 2009 and 2011, but picked up this one after reading a bunch of reviews that said he'd rewritten and re-thought many of the major sections of the book. This rewrite was done after he (in)famously had a big meltdown in the high stakes games, going on a few hundred thousand dollar downswing, retiring from poker, and then coming back to it and winning again. He recognized that the game had gotten a lot tougher in recent years, and in fact strategies that had once worked profitably were no longer valid.

Anyway, I've read just the couple first chapters, and I have to say this is indeed an excellent book. Very detailed and very no-nonsense in nature. Also, he explains the "why's" as much as he does the "what's," which I always appreciate in a good strategy book.

The first chapter is a good example of this, with Seidman describing why we bet in poker. He echoes what I've preached herein this blog for years; i.e., there are only two valid reasons for betting in poker: Value or Bluff. We do not bet for information, nor do we bet for protection. Those are indeed often secondary and beneficial consequences of betting, but they should not be the reason that you're betting.

Seidman also repeats another thing that I've stated repeatedly here: at the micro- and low-stakes games, we should be primarily making our money by value betting, not bluffing. He argues that the reason for this is that humans are naturally curious people, and want to see if they've won at a showdown, even when they think they might be beat. Ergo, you should press the accelerator betting pedal whenever you think you're ahead (i.e., for Value). Bluffing should be minimal, and only against good, thinking players who are capable of letting go of better hands. (Bluffing however becomes much more important at the mid- and high-stakes tables, where your opponents are less likely to make calling mistakes and/or stack-of with a second-best hand).

Now back to being jet-lagged. Sigh.
All-in for now…


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