Poker Theorems for Real Money Game: Sklansky, Baluga, Zeebo, Clarkmeister
A poker theorem is generally a statement or strategy that is used to help understand certain poker strategies in a simplified manner. The best come from established professional players and are used as a rule of thumb to outline certain lines that can be taken in any given circumstance. Throughout this article we will be looking at theorems from Sklansky, Zeebo, BalugaWhale and Clarkmeister.
Fundamental Theorem of Poker (David Sklansky)
Sklansky’s theorem is probably the best known out of all the theorems we will be looking at in this article and is also one of the most effective.
The principle of the theorem is based around knowing exactly what our opponents hand is and playing our hand accordingly.
“Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents’ cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose.” – The Theory of Poker
So, for example, if we knew we had the best hand then we would be betting, conversely if we knew we had the worst hand then we would be folding.
Obviously we will never know exactly what an opponent is holding until showdown, so to try and overcome this flaw we need to play as closely as possibly to the perfect line for each individual hand and play accordingly.
Zeebo is a well know high stakes player and his theorem is pretty simple. No player can fold a full house regardless of bet sizing or betting rounds.
Whilst the principal of his theorem may seem blindingly obvious, it’s important to bare it in mind for two reasons.
• If we suspect they may have a full house don’t bluff
• If we suspect someone has a lesser full house bet big as they won’t be folding, meaning we can gain maximum value from our full house
Betting massively over the pot with a full house, whilst we think our opponent has a lesser full house, is one of the few times that this move will become a profitable play. Even though they may not be too thrilled to put all of their chips in with their hand, it’s much more likely they are going to call off the bet due to the fact that they have a full house, be it the nuts or not.
BalugaWhale is another top poker player earning a steady living from the game. His theorem has been around the poker forums for a few years now and is one of the more established to date.
His theorem again is pretty simple. If you face a raise on the turn and you are only holding one pair, it’s time to seriously start re-evaluating your hand.
Let’s take a look at an example. We hold AK on an A high board giving us top pair, top kicker and we bet the flop. Our opponent calls and we decide to bet the turn also. At this point our opponent decided to raise the turn card.
There are a lot of factors to absorb in this scenario such as pot size and opponents tendencies, but as a general rule it’s unlikely that an opponent will be doing this with hands that don’t beat one pair. This means that we have to look at how our hand fairs up against what our opponent can be raising here, even though we still have a relatively strong holding.
Folding in this situation can save us a lot of tough decisions on the river and a lot of money. It’s highly likely that if we call we are going to be facing some sort of river bet and at this point, we will be looking at our opponent having a nuts or air type hand of which, we would either have to guess or have a very strong read on our opponent.
Similarly to BalugaWhale, Clarkmeister is another top poker professional and has won some serious money online. His theory is that, if a board reads a 4 card flush and it’s you to act first on the river, then bet.
His reasoning is that the 4th flush card is going to be a strong card to bluff opponents off anything other than a flush which may include hands like one pair, two pair or even sets. A fourth flush card is going to be a scary card for most opponents and will receive a lot of credit if you bet due to the likelihood of you having a card in your hand that will complete the flush.
It’s important to remember that you are turning your hand into a bluff, so if the fourth flushing card does appear and you hold a card that does complete your flush, then it’s best to just check here and try to get to showdown with a hand that will provide you some good showdown value.