Math Skills versus People Skills
It doesn't matter if you analyze everything to find the best way (for you) to proceed if that way isn't all that effective. Perhaps
John Doe always plays in the most profitable way for him when encountering a situation, and makes over the course of his life $15 per
time that situation comes up. Fine. But now when Jane Doe encounters similar situations she manages to be more successful, making $95
Tom W wrote...
> Huh? How can John Doe's method be the best he can hope for,
> if Jane Doe is doing better in the same situation? This makes no sense.
> It's clear you just don't understand what goes into
> It is not performed in a vacuum - the information collected along the way
> (via these people skills) is also incorporated.
Tom's mistake here is a major one. Of course it makes sense. Math does not equal poker. In reality it's how we apply our humanity to
our information (both people and mathematical) that makes most of the difference. The reason John Doe makes $15, the best he can do,
while Jane Doe can make $95 is for a myriad of possible reasons: a table image established, age, sex, a better ability to "sell"
a bluff, etc. An obvious example: suppose we are talking about a bluff, and John Doe is a 25 year old guy, while Jane Doe is a grandmotherly
65 year old. Just in general, the grandmother will be able to bluff successfully more often. No matter how hard he tries, doing the exact
same action, John will (normally) just not be able to change the math enough to have results on this bluff as good as Jane.
Windows - Mac
That's an overly easy example of how the above clearly makes sense, but table image is maybe a more fair example to use in the
discussion. People can *try* to cultivate table images to improve their mathematical return, but you have to be able to actually
*sell* the image to your opponents. This is not math at all. If anything, it's acting. Mathematical analysis merely tells you what you
need to do -- and like in other aspects of life, knowing what to do is generally much easier than actually doing what needs to be
Tom W wrote....
> The battle cry of every single rgp poster that I've ever read
> who doesn't really understand how mathematics applies to poker.
You are missing the point. Math skills are not
unimportant, they are merely *basic*. They aren't like remedial English, and they are more than just Poker 101, but that is kinda the
idea. The road to becoming a better poker player means moving beyond the elementary school things. Math forms a basic and critical
foundation of solid play, but it is kinda like DOS on a computer. It's the foundation of everything, but once you master that, there
is a whole world of greater opportunities available to a player.
>You've got your subsets wrong - reading and
manipulating players falls
> under the umbrella of mathematically correct play, not the other way around.
Mastering the people skills of reading and manipulating people so
they and we act in the way most beneficial to us as often as possible is far more important than merely mastering the odds of the
situation. Put another way, it's no help at all if you know that the odds favor you if your opponent folds -- if you don't know how to
make them fold! *That* is the people skill.
You are playing poker against the odds, yes, but far more important is that you are playing poker against people. Several people.
Playing people is the way to play winning poker.
Tom W wrote...
> The ENTIRE game is about odds. Suppose you and your identical twin
> are in the exact same situation (same cards, same opponent(s), etc.).
> If the two of you read your opponents differently, then you estimate
> your odds differently (for different strategy
choices). If you estimate
> your odds differently, then you employ different strategies. In the
> long run, the one of you two who does the
better handicapping job
> (which includes both reading the player and determining how that
> read affects your odds), and the better implementation of strategy
> (which involves determining how best to exploit your opponent based
> on your handicapped odds) wins the most money.
Again, clearly wrong. Absolutely not. You well articulate the simple fundamental of it, but then don't see the more important factor:
SUCCEEDING. Yes, handicap. Yes, implement. But it ain't worth a hill of beans if you can't make it work very well! Maybe a better way
to put it is: suppose the two twins make the exact same calculations, but Twin A is able to win the pot 75% of the time while Twin B
is only capable of winning the pot 60% of the time. Twin B has found his best strategy, but Twin A has better results.
> "Non-mathematical" players who constantly insist that math has
> a subordinate role in poker success see the world as black-and-white
> - they are so far behind the curve that they have no idea that there
> even is a curve. The more talented players of
this ilk do develop many
> winning ideas in a sort of trial-and-error manner. They don't understand
> the game well, and as a consequence are slow to learn new games,
> and also have a hard time moving up in limits where the players are
> capable of going more levels.
Again you miss the point. You think others are behind the curve, but you don't even realize you are so far behind that you don't even
know other curves exist. You choose to think of this as a math-versus-intuitive discussion. Winning poker is math + people skills. The
math is learning to crawl. The people skills is learning to run. The combination of the two, the execution of correct action, is
learning to fly.
Math is a basic element of winning poker. But it's like putting the key in a car's ignition -- it doesn't begin to drive the car for
you. Mediocre players focus on the math of poker, and then think they are "done." The great poker players are the ones who understand
people, who know how to adapt to their environment, who woo (when they want a call) and frighten (when they want a fold) their
opponents appropriately, etc. The point is to understand the math, then move on to the greater challenge of understanding the people.
Because people play poker.
David Sklansky wrote...
> When students raise their score 100 points from tutoring it is not
> from 690 to 780. The problems with standardized tests are not apt
> to occur in the very high ranges. Everyone that I know who got 800
> on their SAT is quite obviously much smarter than those who got 720
> and it is really only those people who have a significant edge over
> 630 scorers when it comes to poker.
What the heck do you mean by "smarter"? Smarter at taking the SAT math test? Yeah, okay, but that sure isn't "smarter"
in the way you imply. Smarter at finding their way across town in traffic? Smarter fixing a lawnmower? Smarter at not getting mugged?
And is someone who gets an 800 on the math "smarter" than someone who gets an 800 on the verbal?
An 800 on the math SAT shows a greater smartness in math compared to someone who gets a 720 or 630 (assuming similar test facilities
and health of participants). But what a joke to think of math as *the* defining element of smartness. If you only mean "smarter in
math aptitude", I suggest you say that. It'd be the smart thing to do.
Smartness (especially poker smartness) is sharp/quick thought, cleverness, and keen awareness, according to the dictionary, to which
I'd add an ability to adapt and master of your surroundings. The math SAT does measure these things to a degree, but a very limited
one. An 800 math SAT (or an 800 verbal SAT for that matter) would predispose a person to be a good poker player, but so would the
"smarts" to be able to sell refrigerators to Eskimos
-- and that latter skill would likely be more helpful.
David Sklansky wrote...
> Furthermore physics and math instantly punishes bad reasoning by giving you
> the irrefutably wrong answer. Thus expertise in these subjects is much more
> likely to spill over into expertise in other subjects than non technical disciplines
You could not be more clearly wrong. In the rest of the world there are very seldom irrefutably wrong answers! It's not black and
white. Poker is an excellent example. Navigating the shades of gray is where brilliance shows itself.
Intelligence is expressed in application. We all subjectively value the various expressions of intelligence differently. Some think
math brilliance is the highest expression of intelligence because the gap between the great and the merely okay is so great. This is
just simpleminded though, an example of flawed, tunnel-vision intelligence.
In poker, a person can demonstrate true brilliance by being smart as a historian, as a mathematician, as a psychologist, as a
sociologist, and as a salesman. In some more limited situations, as linguist too. As has been pointed out, achieving brilliance in one
of these fields (say math) may be tougher than the other fields, but the greatest genius in all these fields cumulatively is surely
far "smarter" than the smartest in the math field.