Why Fixed Poker Strategies Fail

Actually, you can hone in on a very decent online poker strategy by using a computer to try out your poker tactics. You let the first “poker opponent” adjust until it is maximizing its profit. Then you let the second “opponent” adjust, and on and on. I have seen situations in which this won’t work, because the poker strategies stubbornly whipsaw back and forth, rather than finding a focal point. But it’s sometimes a very powerful technique. At the end of this experimentation, you arrive at a fixed poker strategy.

Here is what’s wrong with fixed strategies in poker. The problem is threefold

  • If you use a perfect strategy geared at holding off perfect opponents, you probably won’t maximize your profits against weaker opponents;
  • If, instead, you use a perfect strategy geared at typical weaker opponents, you may have to wait for the game to adapt to you (the wrong set of opponents can sit down and cost you money while you hope for a better group to arrive);
  • Even an apparently excellent strategy can be overcome by two or more opponents playing inconsistently with the true strength of their hands.

The main point I want to make today is that fixed poker strategies fail, whether they’re game theory strategies or strategies.. By fixed strategies, I mean ones that don’t adapt to the conditions a the poker table right now.

Even a perfect poker game theory strategy, targeted at perfect poker opponents, is not the best approach in real life poker games. That’s because, most likely, your online poker opponents are not playing anything near perfect poker strategy. If they are, you probably don’t want to be in that game, anyway. So, the best strategies are those geared for imperfect opponents.

That is why much published hold ’em advice, for instance, is far off the mark when speculating that hands like A-J are seldom profitable. When opponents play A-9, A-8, A-4 with regularity, A-10 is more likely to beat up on another ace than to fall victim to one. Whether you should play A-J or not depends on the exact circumstances and the nature of your opponents. An A-K often makes more money against A-J than A-J makes against A-9, so you need to consider that, too.

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