Wednesday, July 27, 2005


John Vorhaus and Game Theory

I'd read about game theory in a couple of Sklansky books, but I didn't really understand it until I read the section in John Vorhaus Killer Texas Holdem Workbook that explained it in terms I could understand. Vorhaus suggests that you imagine a game where you're playing poker one card per hand in a deck with only 2 cards, the ace and the 2. Then suppose you're playing with an opponent who raises only when he has an ace and folds when he has a 2. Consistently.

Doesn't take long for you to know when to hold em and know when to fold em here does it? By the same token, if you take a player who raises every hand he has, regardless of whether he has the ace or the 2, you also know exactly what action to take in order to compensate for his play.

But if he does something to randomize how often he raises with a 2...well, that's game theory in action. It makes him unpredictable to his opponents. And unless they can figure out the proper calling frequency, they'll lose money against him by making mistakes based on being unable to read him.

At a full ring game, you can play automatically and predictably and do allright. You might even be able to make a profit. But at a short handed table where there's a rake, and where the blind comes around more often than once every 5 hands, you need to be able to make yourself more profitably by using game theory to your advantage.

Thanks for explaining this to me, Mr. Vorhaus.

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