Understanding Game O

The mechanics of poker are simple and can be learned in a few minutes. Yet the strategy of poker has limitless possibilities. Strategy depends more on proper technique than on experience. Even a novice can acquire an immediate strategic advantage over seasoned opponents by applying the DTC technique (discipline, thought, and then control).

Long-range (general) strategy develops from an understanding of the game. The good player understands the game by knowing the--

  • quality of players
  • betting pace
  • availability of cash
  • credit situation
  • general attitude and friendliness
  • areas of resistance and resentment
  • bluffing attitudes
  • reasons for player turnover.

When a player fails to appraise a game accurately, he experiences--

  • decreased edge odds
  • errors and missed opportunities
  • less effective strategy.

The good player continually evaluates the game in order to detect changes and inaccurate appraisals.

All sorts of game and player information are in John Finn's black leather notebook. Every month he summarizes his observations in a section labeled "General Appraisal of Game and Players." Here is a typical summary:

"Monday--7/9. The players have stabilized over the past month, except for the gradual disintegration of Scotty, who gets desperate when losing heavily and then makes poor bets and bluffs. The betting pace is increasing as wild modifications are added. The betting stakes remain stable. The cash situation is good despite heavy losses by Sid, Ted, and Scotty. But Ted is in financial trouble; he runs up large debts and then pays them off with borrowed money. He may soon go broke.

"Resentment is building between Quintin and Sid. Quintin sarcastically questions Sid's honesty. Sid shouts back angry insults about Quintin's stinginess. This quarrel must end before it hurts the game.

"The game is in good shape and yields a reliable and substantial income. No one seems about to quit, except Ted if he goes bankrupt. But the game needs one or two new players . . . Aaron Smith would be a profitable addition."

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