Poker is just like any other game or sport. Once you learn the fundamentals as part of an overall strategy, you then can focus on the subtle nuances of the endeavor in order to rise above the competition. No one has ever been any good at anything their first time trying it. There always has to be some foundation for success.
Take basketball, for example. There have been decades of trial and error on what works and does not work on the court. Innovators find better ways of doing something, and then eventually it becomes a fundamental.
In the old days of the game, players employed a two-handed set shot with both feet firmly planted on the ground. In the late 1920s, someone figured out that the one-handed set shot was much more accurate. The game was revolutionized and scoring soared. This innovation, of course, led to the jump shot, which was invented sometime in the 1930s.
Today, when kids are taught how to shoot, they are shown tried and true fundamental motions of how to hold the ball, proper stance, and correct release. If any of the fundamentals are ignored, the player’s potential will be limited. I feel poker works very much the same way. If a player is not versed in the fundamentals of basic play, then his or her game will suffer.
The golf swing is another great example of what fundamentals can do to your game. Not only do you have to do certain things correctly, you have to make sure you eliminate all the bad motions as well. Case in point, let’s take a look at the player who perhaps had the greatest fundamentals of any golfer ever. In fact, he invented many of the fundamentals of modern golf.
Ben Hogan is arguably the greatest golfer of all time. He spent countless hours on the range working on his swing and was well-known for his tireless work ethic. He became a student of the game of golf, and had a keen determination to perfect the golf swing. His method involved removing all of the unnecessary moving parts in his swing, until all he had left were a few fundamental efficient movements. It took him several years to develop it, but once he did, he had full command of not only his golf swing, but just about every tournament he played.
It is my aim to do the same thing in this book. But instead of removing the extra moving parts found in a golf swing, in poker you will take away actions that are fundamentally unprofitable. What I will teach you to do is systematically eliminate all of the leaks from your game.
A leak is an action that would show a long-term monetary loss when repeated throughout a career. Any strategy rife with strategic flaws that has you consistently making tactical errors will lose money. An extreme example would be calling 3-bets all-in with 32o. You could win five times in a row over the short term, but if you make this call a thousand times during a career, you are sure to lose a boatload of money. So how do you fix this leak? You simply stop calling 3-bet all-ins with 32o. Seems obvious, right?
The trick is, most leaks are not this clear cut. A player may have enough positive results over the short term with a losing strategy so as to be fooled into thinking it is correct to play in such a way. Without the perspective of a large enough sample size to provide ample negative reinforcement, one could not know about his or her slow monetary bleed.
Ben Hogan used trial and error to work on his swing. He would remove or add a movement to his swing, and afterward hit hundreds of balls. Then he would make a small adjustment and repeat. He had the luxury of a driving range and shots that did not count in which to master his technique. If you tried this method in poker, you would surely go broke many times over before you had a game streamlined enough to make a profit.
Lucky for you, other people have already crossed these bridges and made these mistakes. Today, people can watch Ben Hogan’s golf swing and copy it movement for movement, and through diligent practice, build a serviceable swing with very few “leaks.” Hogan already paved the way for many generations of golfers to benefit from his diligence.
You can do the same in poker with the correct information around which to build your game. Just like golf, poker has fundamentals as there are basic things you can do and not do in order to successfully play a profitable game. However, just like in golf, being armed with all the right information does not instantly make you a great player. You still have to get out there and practice what you learn. Your “driving range” will be the strategies in this book used at the micro-stakes.