In my last column, I promised with my hand on the Good Book that I would talk about poker strategy in this column. So, since a promise is a promise, here goes.
First, I want everyone to know that I am not trying to pass myself off as one of the great poker minds (like Caro, Sklansky, or Malmuth). In fact, I don't even understand what standard deviation means. I've looked up both words in the dictionary and I must confess that I still can't figure it out. If you're still with me and want to give me a shot, thanks.
Now, let's move onward. I am going to give you what I think is the most valuable tool in being a winning poker player. Before I do, I want to explain that I do not subscribe to the theory that experienced players should not smarten up the newcomers or less experienced players with free advice.
It reminds me of the thousands of books and articles written on how to lose weight. It is all spelled out by the experts who spend an enormous amount of time researching and refining their diets. Almost all of the diets will work if you will only follow them. But how many people follow them? I don't have to go any further than the calendar to guess that not many do because every two or three weeks, I see a notation on my calendar, usually on a Monday, that says, "Start diet."
The same analogy holds true for poker. There is enough information out there in the poker world for all of us to be winning players. Here's a horrifying thought: If everyone read and followed all of the advice in the books, there would be all winners and no losers, and you'd never get a seat in your favorite game. The only people complaining would be the compulsive gamblers -- you know, the people who want to lose.
So, the point is that most people know how to play good poker; there are just too many reasons to delay playing well until the next hand, the next session, or anytime, as long as it's in the future. Having laid the proper groundwork for my strategy, laying to rest the fear that some poker pros have about smartening anyone up, I am now ready to impart my poker strategy. There's one more tiny detail: I didn't think up the strategy myself. I stole it from Brent Carter. I'm pretty sure that I won't get caught, because Carter is an excellent player and probably quit reading this column when I mentioned that I would be discussing strategy. He knows that he doesn't need any help from me.
So, here is the strategy I stole from Carter. I hope that I can say it as succinctly as he does. I'll try. Here goes: "Pay attention." That's it. It's pretty simple, but I guarantee that if you follow it, you will become a lot better poker player.
My advice is that once this strategy sinks in, you don't try to over analyze it, don't dwell on what it really means or doesn't mean. That's the beauty of it -- it's simple. Just "pay attention."
That's enough strategy for this column. Next time, I'll try not to be so technical.