Game Theory For Poker?

If you have been paying attention over the past few years or so you have most likely noticed a profound change in the way that the game of poker is being played. Traditional strategies and techniques, while still being useful in some circumstances, are being surpassed by a new factor at the poker table. This factor goes by the name of Game Theory.

Technically, game theory is defined as the study of strategic decision thinking. Or more to the point, game theory can be said to be the study of analysis of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent and rational decision makers. Somewhere along the line somebody realized that the game of poker is a perfect venue in which to apply game theory.

Here is how it shows up in the real world. While it is still true that at the highest levels winning at poker includes the skill of “reading” the opponent, the new understanding is that it is much more insightful to analyze the competition in terms of their playing style along with examining their betting bets to understand what they really mean.

At the same time, the new application of game theory also suggests that the most insightful manner in which to analyze a poker decision is to actually look at what is termed the “range”. The range is a short hand way to express the concept of looking at all of the possible actions that the player could have taken.

Of course, you cannot in fact know your opponent’s range exactly. Yet consider, neither can your opponent know yours either. Here, take a look at this quick example to make this clear. Suppose you are in the midst of an online poker game and the game play so far has left your opponent in a position that he believes you would never go all in without at least a pair of tens. That means he most likely will not call you with anything worse than that. In other words, his calling range depends on what he believes your range could be.

To make this work for you in your poker playing, you should read this and understand you are better off not making a particular bet (an all-in bet, for example) only when you have a superstrong hand. Why is that? Think about it this way: if you keep showing this pattern you are making your range obvious to your opponent. On the other hand, if you alternate your strategy, say by sometimes going all-in on a weak hand, you will take away your opponent’s ability to determine your range.

As you can see, the game of poker has changed and is still changing as new and better playing strategies are discovered. Take a look at game theory for your poker play if you want to up your game.

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