Looking at Sklansky’s Fundamental Theorem of Poker

Just how important is it to be deceptive in poker? Well, deception is very important to succeed in many games once your opponents reach a very good level. In boxing then you would never move beyond mediocre levels if your opponents always knew when you were going to hit them and where.

In a boxing contest of course then this can be compared to a heads up dual in poker because there are no other people involved. In cash games and tournaments at say some online poker room then more players and competitors are involved and so you need to deceive more people.

In casino blackjack then deception is very important once you are faced with a greater level of sophistication. Card counters wouldn’t last very long if they telegraphed their intentions to the casino. I have known several card counters in the past who failed in their “careers” for the simple reason being that they didn’t pay enough attention to deception.

Once your opponents know what you are doing then it becomes easy for them to combat you. Imagine how bad it would be for your chances of making money in poker if every time you played a hand you had to do so with your cards exposed?

Your opponents could play accurately against you and basically destroy you in a very short space of time. You would never ever be able to bluff with exposed cards and you would never win a big pot with a powerful hand because your opponents would always fold. So it then becomes clear how important deception is and to maximise deception means that you usually have to sacrifice something.

In card counting then this often means losing some of your “edge”. In reality of course then your edge has not been reduced at all but your overall chances of making money long term have been increased dramatically.

Sports like Cricket and Baseball have strong links with deception when the bowler and the pitcher are getting ready to release the bowl. They play a cat and mouse game with the batsman because they do not want to allow their opponent to know the exact spot that the ball is going to be pitched.

In other games and sports then deception is of lesser or no importance. Sports like Golf, Darts and Snooker are such examples where your own performance level is what matters.

Tennis is a sport where deception is very important and you need to trick your opponent into believing that your serve or your forehand is going somewhere other than it really is. In poker then you make money by being deceptive but many players get this wrong and think that deception means bluffing.

You have to remember that bluffing while being important in poker is of lesser importance than many people believe. Often you can be deceptive with made hands. As an example imagine if the flop is Q-10-4-6 and you have A-10. Your opponent bets two thirds of the pot and you raise with their hand being J-J.

You are not raising because of the power of the A-10 on this board. You are actually turning a mediocre made hand into a sort of semi-bluff that will hopefully get a stronger but vulnerable hand to fold. If you get called then you have five outs to improve to the possible best hand.

So you are being deceptive but not with a nothing hand but a made hand. So there is room for creation in poker but one thing is certain and this is that deception is a very important part of the game and this applies equally so to business as well.

Carl Sampson is an online poker player and poker ambassador for 888poker

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