Sun-Tzu on Limping in Poker

sun_tzu
I was watching one of the poker shows on TV, I try to record most of them. One of the announcers asked the other, “I wonder what The Art of War (Sun-Tzu) has to say about limping?”
Being a advocate of The Art of War and Poker, I thought I’d take a look at it. There has already been a good book on the subject written by David Apostolico, Tournament Poker and the Art of War, and there is also a web site devoted to it. Sun Tzu’s Art of Poker

From “The Art of War” by Sun-Tzu,
In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack:
1. The direct betting/raising
2. the indirect –checking/limping
These two in combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers.
The direct and the indirect lead on to each other in turn.

It is like moving in a circle — you never come to an end.

(It’s also an effective act of randomness to keep your opponent off balance.)

Masking strength with weakness is to be effected by tactical dispositions.
Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act.
He sacrifices something, (so) the enemy may snatch at it.

  • Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline,
  • Simulated fear postulates courage;
  • Simulated weakness postulates strength. It’s all part of the Lying Game of Poker!

If we wish to fight, the enemy can be forced to an engagement even though he (is) sheltered behind a high rampart and a deep ditch –a wall of chips-. All we need do is attack some other place that he will be obliged to relieve.
If we do not wish to fight, we can prevent the enemy from engaging us even though the lines of our encampment be merely traced out on the ground. All we need do is to throw something odd and unaccountable in his way –Randomness.

  • The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided.

By holding out baits –limping/slow playing-, he keeps him on the march; then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him.
By holding out advantages –showing weakness– to him, he can cause the enemy to approach of his own accord; or, by inflicting damage, he can make it impossible for the enemy to draw near.

Whoever is first –to act-with –active or passive Aggression– in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle – will arrive exhausted.
Patience is a virtue in poker, more so in cash games than tournament, however,

“In a balance of mutual terror, whoever ACTS FIRST has the ADVANTAGE!”
  • Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.

Numerical weakness – lack of chips – comes from having to prepare against possible attacks; numerical strength –many chips-, (by) compelling our adversary to make these preparations against us.

  • Though the enemy be stronger in numbers, we may prevent him from fighting.
  • Scheme so as to discover his plans and the likelihood of their success.

If we are able thus to attack an inferior force with a superior one, our opponents will be in dire straits.

  • When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped.

Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances –Randomness and Deciet– .

Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing.
Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions. He who can modify his tactics –Randomness– in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.
So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.


So, Limping is a weakness than can mask strength.
Some though say “Limping is Lame“. It really doesn’t happen that much in low stakes cash games. There is usually at least one Loose Aggressive player and frequently there are 2 or more in a game, so anyone limping is generally raised. This actually makes limping a good trapping play with strong hands out of position. Especially when the typical buy-in for something like a 1/2 game is only 50 Big Blinds.

I NEVER BLUFF

Mr Lucky Poker
Mr Lucky Poker
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Get your head in the game………Keep your head in the game!

soccer-photographyYou know your head isn’t in the game, when you think of reasons to abandon the table when you keep losing to marginal hands. The hands are not coming your way and you can’t justify playing the marginal hands most loose, as well as loose aggressive, players play just to get lucky on the flop. It’s probably best to get up and walk around for a couple of orbits to clear the fog in your brain, or just leave.

Loose tables with loose aggressive players are very profitable, if you keep your head in the game. The low level games are usually loose and often loose aggressive. Loose aggressive tables are where you want to play.

It’s easy to lose focus when you aren’t playing well or the hands aren’t coming your way. I see a lot of players that change seats or even tables when the cards turn cold. I don’t subscribe to the notion that if I change my seat, it will change my luck. You make your own luck, which is what those loose aggressive players are trying to do anyway by playing 80% of the hands and raising 50% or more with them, regardless of position. Some of them often use the straddle to build the pot. It’s an action players move. I love those players, when my head is in the game.

Keep your head in the game and raise the action players with your favorable position and range of hands and you have to know their range of hands.

What do Action Players play?

Loose Aggressive Tables average 4+ players willing to see the flop if the bets are less than 3x BB

LA players tend to bet 2x/3x BB w/Ax, Kx, Broadway connectors, IN or OUT of position.

They are not that concerned about the pot size, as most will raise to build the pot and eliminate tight players. These action players are looking to get lucky and the only way to minimize their prospecting for luck is to attack them, especially those straddle players.

What do Tight Players play?

TA players will raise more often than Tight Passive players. Both have a similar range of hands, but neither one is an action player. The tight player is more likely to fold when the LA players raise the bet above their threshold of betting less than premium hands.

IN position the TA players tend to call their bottom range and  raise with their top range of hands.

OUT of position the TA players tend to call or raise with their top range of hands and are more dangerous than the action players which will release their hand after the flop, if they haven’t hit something and/or don’t have a good drawing possibility. Tight Passive and Tight Aggressive players are more likely to hold on when they hit the flop and Tight Aggressive players are more likely to raise when they hit top pair or make a set or better.

KEEP YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME.

 

I NEVER BLUFF

Mr Lucky Poker
Mr Lucky Poker