The Golden Rule of Poker

The Golden Rule of Poker

It’s one of the biggest faults of human nature: to get so preoccupied with one’s world that they forget to think about those others around them.

Seeing the world through the eyes of another is how we progress, strengthen relationships, thrive in business, and even win at poker.

And if, as Copernicus observes, ‘the world really does revolve around me’ then this must be as true for me as it is for all my opponents.

It came as a shock to the table that I folded (in 2 seconds nonetheless) a set in a reraised pot vs Chad Holloway.

Truth be told I merely followed the golden rule, reasoning about the situation from the perspective of Chad. (Here’s my blueprint for exactly how I do this).

Here is the principle question one should be asking:

What hands would I play this way if I were him?

Doing so gave me a clear, trivial answer.

My hand was no good.

Second tier, far less relevant questions should be considered only if the former leads to ambiguity:

Is he capable of making a move here?
What does my opponent think of me?
What history do we have together?

Again this exercise should always be done from the standpoint of your opponent since his proclivities are the only ones that matter.

In this week’s ‘Hand of the Day’ episode, I put the above into practice in an exhilarating hand I played on Poker Night in America from Philadelphia.

If you still have doubts after watching the hand, redo this exercise by trying to think of a hand Chad could have which I beat. This might be my best fold of all time.

Naturally, I use the same logic which I used to approach this decision in every hand I play. This process of analyzing my opponent’s likely holdings and narrowing their hand range (all the possible hands they can have at any given time) down to a small group of likely holdings is a process which I call a ‘Hand Range Funnel.’

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Thanks for your attention.

Alec Torelli
Welcome! I'm Alec Torelli, founder of Conscious Poker, a training site dedicated to transforming good players into great ones by providing the best poker strategy and mindset content. I've been a professional poker player for 15 years and have over $1,500,000 in tournament winnings and millions more in both live and online cash games. On this site, I share the lessons I learned during my poker career to help you crush the games, optimize your bankroll, make winning decisions and achieve your poker goals.

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