Sunday, March 08, 2009

Poker Knowledge vs Poker Discipline

A Potentially interesting debate started over at 2+2 with a poster asking what the respective roles of knowledge and discipline were in ensuring profitable poker play. There were a few thoughtful replies before the inevitable 'Its both so why discuss it, retard' type post appeared.

Well, I for one think debates like this are interesting, While it is obvious from the start that the end answer is 'both', it is the inter-relationships which are the key... imagine the debate on nature vs nurture being prematurely ended by some spotty little oik saying 'its both moron' !!

Consistantly beating online poker games requires many skills - at the highest level we can group skills such as bankroll management, game selection, tilt avoidance and the motivation to analyse your hand histories after playing as 'discipline' based skills. Knowledge can be thought of as approaching the play of a hand (or group of hands --> whole tournament) based on hand-reading, spotting situations, exploiting weaknesses of opponents and so on... Knowledge is what use in-game while discipline is the meta-game.

We can start by saying that knowledge has to be the starting point, right? After all, if you do not have the basic skills to win chips then all discipline will do is stop you from losing them so quickly.

For me this is where the debate starts to get interesting....

I honestly believe that the 'knowledge' to beat the game of poker could be attained in a couple of days in both theory and practice. Not talking about the ability to crush the games here, instead the ability to play ABC poker and pick up enough cash to beat the rake and make your bankroll grow.

What is more, I expect 95% of Plan3t Gong readers will already have this knowledge... and the vast majority of players online to at least have the potential to gain this knowledge very quickly indeed...

Yet we know that the vast majority of players loose money online rather than win it!

Discipline is where it all falls apart, most people assume bankroll management is something rather dull which does not apply to them... table selection means clicking the very first available seat and that moving up levels is a great way to recover from a bad beat. To my mind the poker economy is feuled by players with adequate knowledge - but terrible discipline....

This works for the lower levels quite well... however once we get to a certain level in the game - say $1 / $2 at the sites with a lot of grinders or $2 / $4 to $3 / $6 at the fishier sites we see knowledge regaining some ground. Anyone successfull over an extended period of time at these levels would need to have developed discipline in their game... or they would not have survived! Now that discipline is universal the thing that separates the winners and losers is knowledge...

Long post but an interesting conclusion... that it is only when everyone is playing with discipline that knowledge really starts to become important!

Your thoughts welcome.

GL at those tables, Mark


Anonymous said...

My lack of discipline is what is hindering me right now. I believe i have the bankroll and playing skills but my work ethic and my inability to stick to one type of game is holding me back

Lorin Yelle said...

Discipline is the glue that binds it all together. With discipline, even the least talented person can become a long term winner. I would take a person with discipline over any kind of talent and put my money on him.

In fact, discipline is to poker as work ethic is to any other job. People who show up on time and follow directions will always be more valuable to a company than some "A player" who comes and goes when they feel like it and refuses to get along with their co-workers and insists on doing everything their own way.