Poker Inspiration: Sometimes looking outside of the box is the best way to gain a fresh perspective on something. Poker is a fun game, but we can get stuck in our own little universe, or develop tunnel vision.
Noted author and poker pro Lou Krieger wrote many books for beginner poker players including the first volume of Poker for Dummies. His best advice on how to avoid going on tilt is to “get up from the table, take a break, and go for a walk.” Sometimes stepping away from the poker tables or logging off of the virtual felt is the best way to improve poker inspiration.
Taking frequent breaks and engaging in things outside of poker is beneficial to your mental health. In the short term, you get a much-needed break from poker. Over the long term, the added benefit of gaining new insight and a fresh perspective can help improve your skills over the course of a career.
Playing non-poker strategic games such as chess, Go, roulette, and blackjack could actually help inspire your poker game, especially if you’ve gone stagnant or stale. You’d be surprised how other math-oriented gambling games (roulette and blackjack) and classic strategy board games (Go and chess) can help boost poker inspiration your poker skills.
You can find poker inspiration in the strangest of places, but only if you take time away from the poker tables to play different games. As you will soon find out, several aspects of non-poker games have strong and similar connections to poker.
CHESS AND POKER
One of the biggest fundamentals of chess is grasping the concept that your current move has a ripple effect throughout the remainder of the game. You simply must consider the future implications of your current move. That’s why chess players take a long time to make a move – because they think in terms of decision trees before arriving at a strategic decision.
Poker players can apply decision trees to their basic poker inspiration. The best cliché to explain this concept is “thinking several moves in advance.” Sometimes we get so caught up in the current betting round (pre-flop or on the flop), that we do not think about its implications later in the hand (on the turn or river). That’s why we need to be mindful of our current decisions; they have an impact on later streets.
If you ever walked into a park and watched the locals play a variation of speed chess, you should consider joining them for a few games. Speed chess is like turbo-charged chess because there’s a shot clock and you are forced to make instant decisions. Like Malcom Gladwell suggested in his book “Blink”, sometimes your initial gut instinct is the correct instinct versus a more thorough investigation into a decision. Hand analysis is important. But, sometimes players get lost in their own minds by overthinking a hand. While poker and chess are both very complex, too much over-analysis is a bad thing. That’s why speed chess is a great exercise to help making better decisions on the fly.
poker inspiration: ROULETTE AND POKER
On the surface, roulette isn’t usually thought of in the same strategic realm as poker. Rarely will you ever find roulette lumped in the same cerebral arena as poker and chess. However, there are many vital aspects to playing roulette that can help inspire your poker game. The most important is game and table selection.
For example, roulette is a game of chance with minimal strategy; but there are several ways in which roulette’s small edges can translate to poker. The biggest example is table selection. There’s a mathematical difference between American Roulette and European Roulette. The American wheel uses an extra number – 00 – in addition to the 0, whereas European wheels traditionally include only a 0, but not the 00. If you are given the choice of selecting roulette tables, you almost always want to play with the European wheel because it offers a slightly better edge.
The same goes for poker… Pick the proper table that gives you the best possible edge; so determine whether or not a short-handed 6-max table is better for your skill set than playing full ring.
BLACKJACK AND POKER
If you play blackjack regularly at casinos in Las Vegas or elsewhere; then you are well aware of the swings that occur during each session. Blackjack is a high-volume game; which is why you must always go into a session with a specific game plan; and stick with an optimal strategy; regardless of whether or not you’re running good or bad.
Bad beats are going to happen, especially in blackjack, but you have to maintain your cool and stick with the game plan, especially when you’re under fire.
Blackjack has a Zen-like quality to it because it teaches you to go with the flow. You cannot worry too much about individual losing hands; as long as you play optimal strategy, statistics is on your side. The same thing applies to poker; don’t let immediate results bother you; but rather you need to focus on playing consistent optimal strategy over the long term.
Blackjack can help put the concept of grinding it out at the poker tables in perspective. It can also remind you to stay cool and handle the swings, ultimately making you a better poker player.
GO AND POKER
The ancient game Go originated in China and has been around for over 4,000 years. It has stood the test of time as a game that is both challenging and fun. It is a two-player board game that uses black and white stones. The goal is to surround all of your player’s stones.
Like chess, there are many different opening strategies in Go. Knowing how to play all of them with competence puts you on a path toward becoming a well-rounded player. Poker and Go share this commonality. Becoming a well-rounded and versatile player in poker is essential to long-term success. Much like learning different openings in Go, you need to learn the importance of varying your opening raises instead of raising the same set amount.
Sente and gote are important aspects of Go strategy. Are you going on the attack (sente); or will you be playing defense (gote)? The concepts of sente and gote can help you determine which style of play you want to employ at the poker tables; aggressive attacking poker, or constantly defending your stack against your aggro opponents.
Go also has many complex and intricate endgame -or yose– strategies. Some of those can help strengthen endgame poker strategy; particularly in tournaments when you’re heads-up and trying to put away your opponent; in the most efficient manner without bluffing off all of your chips.
poker inspiration: TAKE A BREAK, PLAY A NEW GAME, RETURN TO POKER
When in doubt, take a break from poker and play a new game. Taking a break from poker to play games; such as Go, chess, roulette, and blackjack helps inspire your poker game. Each game has at least one common thread with poker; that can help you find inspiration to approach poker; in a different way when you return to the tables. With a new perspective. Plus, they are really enjoyable; even if not as much as poker.