Poker Warfare

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Delik James | Poker Articles, Poker Strategy

If poker is war, then chips are your ammunition and one must always use their ammunition thoughtfully – after all, once the ammo is gone, so are you.

It is with that idea that I have always been keenly aware of ensuring purpose to every chip I commit to a pot. That being said, you can’t play scared poker and win, in fact – I think it is essential to have an utter disconnect from money completely when at the felt (as strange as that may sound). Worrying about losing money has no place at the felt and will, I guarantee you, leads to loss. This is warfare people – it is not for the weak at heart or the weak minded for certain!

Every action I make (check, fold, call, raise) has a deliberate purpose and is a way of communication with my opponents on the battlefield:

The Fold is an amazing weapon in my arsenal and one that I use most frequently as a tight/aggressive player. I will use the Fold before the flop when my hole cards and position limit my tactical advances as well as when my premium cards come up short on later streets and I want to limit my damage because I feel that another player has the best of it.

There is no stronger statement however, than a Raise. If I raise, I am telling everyone at the table that this is my hand and you better either back off or get ready for battle; a declaration of attack if you will. Along the same lines, a re-raise is a full scale attack and one that most often will be met with surrender or a duel to the death (bust).

Conversely, a Call or Check are perhaps the weakest moves in poker, thus making no real statement at all outside of a desire for another cheap or free card, a simple call or check shows vulnerability and allows others to swoop in and take advantage/steal the pot from you, which is why keeping these to a minimum leads to a stronger game overall.

I haven’t mentioned the psychology of applying the bluff in these situations, but I will say briefly that I use this maneuver much like a special ops division of my poker arsenal – it is intended to confuse my opponents, send them down the wrong path and set them up for chip casualties later on. Actually, I often find that revealing a bluff can be more lucrative than getting away with one in the long run (in tournament play for example), it keeps everyone guessing and second guessing.

Make no bones about it, warfare at the felt, just as on the real battlefield, is made up of many critical decisions. Every move made must serve its purpose in order to come out on top, plant your flag, and declare the table in the name of your bankroll.

Whether you equate poker to war or even fly fishing, my point remains the same – every move is critical and should be approached carefully, with a plan and knowledge of one’s mission.  I think one of greatest lessons I’ve taken away from the most successful pros is that you need to know why you are making the actions you are making at the felt, what is the purpose, what do you want to achieve and what are you saying to your opponents by making them.

Wishing you Big Flops and Bigger Pots,

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2 Comments to Poker Warfare

September 20, 2008

I really like the comparison between poker at war fare. You forgot to mention the checks raise, or in line with your comparison:
“faking death and when your enemy is least expecting it, jump up at bite him in the ass:$-)”

Delik James
September 20, 2008

Ah, yes – I smell Poker Warfare Part Two.

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