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In-Game Awareness and Optimisation

Posted by Kushraj Garg on 2019-05-04 at 12:03 PM

Hi guys.This is my second blog and today I want to share my views on something I believe plays a critical role in determining our long term results.

Starting with the optimization principle, which is simple. It states that we try to maximize a certain output operating under particular constraints. A quick analogy to poker would be, when trying to optimize in a particular spot we are looking to take the max EV decision by evaluating the information we have on all the variables into consideration.

The idea that I want to build upon is that poker is an incomplete information game. What works in a specific situation might not work in what appears to be a similar situation and hence there is no rigid formula or strategy that we can expect to deliver accurate results. We are not going to make perfect decisions all the time and there would always be a certain amount of guessing and assumptions going into a decision. What we can do is to try and take a calculated guess based on all the information we have going into that spot. This could mean a wide variety of things like; knowing your opponents’ tendencies, your relative positions on the table and how it affects the ranges in play, a specific note that you have on an opponent, stack sizes, pot odds, metagame, (add what you think is a critical variable to consider before making a decision), etc. Now using a HUD might be a quick help to deal with some of those variables involved but it’s still our job to be fully attentive on the table to strive and gather as much information and pull the pieces together to make that well educated guess.

It’s easier said than done for sure. Reason being that our brain has an innate tendency to fit somewhat similar situations into already experienced ones and consequently generate a similar response. This as we discussed can hurt our EV in poker if we have a poor in-game awareness and let ourselves into auto-piloting mode (aka button clicking); where courtesy to numerous variables involved that change across situations, a similar response might not be the apt one. Unless we train ourselves by paying attention and actively disengaging ourselves from falling into such patterns, we are never really going to improve in our decision making abilities. And this holds true in every aspect of life, not simply while playing poker.

Coherence is the last refuge of the unimaginative. More you practice, more spots you’ll see developing that were going unnoticed prior. Staying focused and aware in-game is the first step to improve at optimization and with a lot of practice, we’ll eventually get there.

Cheers and GL!

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Kushraj Garg

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