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Introduction

 

Fear Not the Books

What are the direct effects of books and articles? We can add something on this topic. No one has conducted a decent study of the effects on the games or the players. There is only an assumption. It can be wise and informed by convincing observations, but cannot recognize all the effects with any real confidence. There is no question that some very good players have gained much of their ability through serious study of the about poker literature. Remember that I said "serious study."

An instant reading of poker text, no matter how good it is, will not turn a bad player without exceptional prudence and talent for the game, into a very good one. However, making a serious work of studying poker from books, combined with much play and independent analysis of the game, simply can do it. It can include some personal instruction from an expert and the chance of success rises much greater, but only a few players are willing to make this kind of effort. Furthermore, some of them, though willing, so lack the disposition or ability to employ the kinds of thinking used in poker that they simply can't break through to real success.

In David Skylansky's essay Poker, Gaming & Life, he estimates that of those players who try without studying to become tight winners (making good money in middle limit games for example), no more than one percent succeed. And those who study thoroughly, he believes about 10 percent succeed. Hence, if we accept Skylansky's numbers which do seem reasonable books make a relative difference. They precisely offer nothing close to a guarantee of success.

What about other effects of books and articles? I believe that they have some effects which should be invited by serious winning players. They try to help create new players, giving beginners information to help them develop their thinking. This may give an opposition feel to some who would otherwise lose suddenly and quit the game. There are other effects too. There are effects of which a poker writer is unlikely to feel particularly satisfied, but which on the other hand benefits the strong winning poker player tensed about his own outcome.

For example, consider a player who's losing up money so rapidly that he will soon be faced with the choice of either quitting the poker or facing financial devastation. Reading materials may help such a player to slow down his losses enough to keep him in the game as a long term mild loser. While this may cost him more money in the long run, it should satisfy those whose only interest is their own profit.

Same is the case of the potential effect on the heavy loser who, because of his losses, plays only intermittently, depending on present cash reserves. The poker literature will sometimes help him become only the mild loser who then plays regularly. This precisely helps games survive and prosper. This again, must satisfy winning players with any concern about having a game on a regular basis.

Before going for other effect of written materials, I will make an observation about the occurrence of middle and higher limit games all over the poker markets. In small to medium sized markets middle limit games, especially between $10-$20 and $20-$40, are generally the biggest games spread. In the smaller markets, there is often no more than one of these games.

There is often nothing big than that. Sometimes, such a game is spread only one or two days a week. There are not enough players to support it more regularly. Games at higher limits are often away from these areas, as few if any of the players are inclined to play in them. In the larger markets, middle limit games are more common, but high low limit games (above $40-$80) which spread, are relatively few in number. Furthermore, they may reduce significantly in number on certain days or even vanish from a specific card room if not carefully developed.

For example, I was in a card room of Los Angeles on three different days during a short period not long before writing this essay. This is a very large card room, particularly known for games at limits like $80-$160 and higher. Around the time of my visits, for reasons tough to knock down, they had experienced a mild decline in their bigger games. Additionally, these games are known to be less regular on the weekend another indication of a player that could stand to be bigger. In the night of Saturday, I found that the biggest hold'em game there was $50-$100. On Sunday, it was $30-$60. On the following Friday an $80-$160 game started short-handed but suddenly broke up. The rest of the day $40-$80 was the biggest hold'em game. There were always a few names on the list for the bigger games, just not enough on these occasions to get them started. While there were the main floor teamed with endless smaller games. This lack of games indicates to the obvious need for more players for at these higher limits.

In large and small markets there are players for whom there are too few games at the limits they want to play. This is another difficulty for which poker books and articles may provide measure of help. What $80-$160 player wouldn't like to always have a few games to select from every day of the week? Is it idealistic? Perhaps not, only if more players are helped to survive and move up the limits. They need not be world beaters to do this.

The poker literature should sometimes help turn a small loser who would never move up from a limit like $10-$20, for example, into a break even or considerably winning player who might then have confidence, and may be the bankroll, to move up to bigger middle limit games or even the higher limit games. His entry into these games fills another seat and helps strengthen the player foundation, allowing the games to be spread more relatively, eventually helping to create new games. Also keep in mind that games at a given limit help support those at similar, higher limits.

Many players will play regularly at a higher limit where they might only break even or lose a little. They want to play at that limit as long as they can survive without getting hurt too badly. Though it is most preferable to be in a game containing only terrible player and I mostly prefer a game with a couple of these average players in it to no game at all.

Therefore, books and articles help to develop games for poker players desiring to play higher, but whose chances are very little. That they do this by improving the skills of some readers is well worth it. Reading will be a significant factor in creating a few excellent players but I am sure the average players created in the same manner go far beyond them.

So anytime you hear a player complaining that a book or article he is reading is only going to make the games tougher, tell him about the "third factor" and all the games about the poker literature creates. If you won't hear it, then just say, "Anyway, you should just stop reading. After all, you wouldn't want to make the games difficult now would you?"

 

Continue Here: Fear Not The Books - Afterthought And Conclusion

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