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Art of Poker

All warfare is based on deception

Many stop at taking steps to deceive the enemy thinking this is enough. But to take this statement fully into account, you also must learn how the enemy is deceiving you.

Deceiving Your Enemy

For should the enemy strengthen his van, he will weaken his rear; should he strengthen his rear, he will weaken his van; If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.

Where We Intend To Fight Must Not Be Made Known

The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known; for then the enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several different points.

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The Five Faults

There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general. When an army is overthrown and its leader slain, the cause will surely be found among these five dangerous faults.

Setting Up An Ambush

By holding out baits, he keeps him on the march; then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him.

You Can't Lose

Sun Tzu said: The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.

Choosing Your Battlefield

The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him.

In poker, a battlefield consists of all the possible hands you and each of your opponents could have. Instead of committing soldiers you are committing chips. When choosing a battlefield, always remember that there will be other battlefields. Impatience is probably the most common reason for a player being taken out of a game. When it becomes clear that advancing on a particular battlefield will decide the outcome of the game, make sure it is one that you have chosen.

By holding out advantages to him, he can cause the enemy to approach of his own accord.

This is what it means to choose a battlefield. Opponents should bet at a pot when you tell them to. When an opponent bets at a pot it is because they feel their cards are better than yours. Rather than attacking an enemy whenever you can, focus on having the enemy attack you on a battlefield on which you can crush them. It usually takes only one big hand to win a game, so make sure that big hand is on a battlefield in which you have a clear advantage.

Every time it is your turn, you have to think what do I want my opponent to think I have. Your opponent knows you have something, but they have to think that they can beat you if they are going to play the hand. There are many factors, even in online poker, that will contribute to your opponents perception of what you have. These include:

  • The amount you bet
  • Results from past hands
  • Bets of similar amounts to other bets you've made
  • How quickly or slowly you make your betting decision
  • Opinions they've made of your betting styles

Any one of these factors can be used to impose your will on the enemy. Always watch for your opponent to develop assumptions about how you will play. Every time your opponent makes an assumption you can attack that assumption. A great strategy is to give them an indicator of your hand strength, one they can count on. Get them used to it, even if you have to fold a few times and lose a few chips. Your opponent starts to win chips from you and their ego becomes happy. They've now figured you out and are only a few hands from victory. The prospect of taking you out of the game is looking good and pretty soon that's all they are thinking about. That's when they make the mistake. They advance too far on a battlefield of your choosing and they're locked in.

By inflicting damage, he can make it impossible for the enemy to draw near.

Hopefully your strategy of holding out an advantage to your enemy has taken their whole stack, but if not you've made it much harder for them to draw near. They now know that you have them figured out, and a big bet is going to seem much more educated now than before. You've just dealt a big blow to someone who thought they had you beat. This is usually a good time to loosen your style a little and push them around a little.

In poker, you want to choose the battlefields on which you bet, while blocking your opponents attempts to choose one themselves. While you do want your opponent to think they have chosen the battlefield you never want to let them actually chose one. If your opponent goes all in they have chosen the battlefield, and the only reason that you should ever call them is if you have tricked them into thinking that you have a weaker hand than you actually do.

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