Bad Poker Advice - High Profile Strategy Tips That No Longer Work
Like pretty much everything else in this world, poker is a living, evolving entity. It changes all the time and thus strategy that may have worked just fine 10 years ago, may indeed be nothing but the butt of bad jokes today. This is the very reason why beginners and even some of the advanced players find it so difficult to make heads and tails of poker strategy these days. The advent of online poker has sped up the evolution of the game more than tenfold. These days, the shelf lives of some strategy moves have been reduced to a couple of months. There are always the undeniable truths that will always hold water as long as the rules of the game remain unchanged. The more subtle aspects however, which do in fact make or break winning players past a certain level, are continuously changing.
Many a poker pro and strategy expert sought to sum up his knowledge of the game in an attempt to educate future generations, and to generally make the game more popular by making it more accessible for the masses. Inevitably, strategy recommendations have been made in these books that are considered quite ridiculous today, even by some of the greatest experts like David Sklansky, Phil Hellmuth and Dan Harrington. Here’s a closer look at some of this expired advice.
David Sklansky, in his Theory of Poker (which is by the way a wonderful book and quite a must for every beginner) says that raising can and should be used as a means of gaining additional information on one’s opponent. Nowadays, when the edges at the table are so small it’s quite incredible that some folks manage to turn a profit at certain stakes, this is simply not a healthy approach. It squanders equity and edges one simply can no longer afford to give up. Plus, there are better – much less expensive ways – of gaining enough information on an opponent to accurately put him on a range.
In addition to all that, the information that one gains from such a raise is often not helpful at all. If for instance the opponent reacts to a raise by folding, this is definitely bad. Not only does it not give the raiser any sort of information, it scares away an opponent who may have wanted to stuff a few more chips into the pot otherwise.
If the opponent calls, that doesn’t give much information to the raiser, it only gets more of his chips into the pot and in harm’s way. If the opponent re-raises, then he does indeed offer some information, which under the circumstances will fast prove to be completely useless.
Dan Harrington makes a similarly dated recommendation in his Harrington on Holdem 1: he says that varying one’s opening between 2x-4x randomly is useful for confusing opponents in tournaments and denying them reads. The reason why the advice is just plain bad is a simple one: raising 4x in a tournament never makes any kind of sense whatsoever. One is best off sticking to 2-2.5x, which will do the job just as well while risking fewer chips in the process.