Poker strategy essays
Sun Tzu's Art of War
"Poker is a game of people, played with cards."
Every poker expert says it: "Poker is war." So it
occurred to me to re-read the ancient Chinese classic
on warfare, Sun Tzu's Art of War, but this
time with an eye toward what it could teach me about
poker. And teach me it did.
The Art of War, written sometime around the
5th century BC, is still used today as a guiding reference,
not only in warfare but in business, law, politics,
sports, and personal relations. It has been translated
into every major language, and you can find various
versions of it online or on the bookshelves. It is
a small book, but very deep and full of wisdom. It
is written in a somewhat poetic style, so though you
may read it over and over again you will continue
to gain new inspirations and insights from it.
Here are a few quotations from Sun Tzu's Art of War
that make me think the old guy must have been quite
a poker player:
"Warfare is the art of deception."
"A military operation involves deception. Even though
you are competent, appear incompetent. Though effective,
"If your enemy is of choleric temperament, irritate
"If your enemy is arrogant, pretend inferiority and
encourage his arrogance."
"Opportunities multiply as they are seized."
"Know thyself, know thy enemy. A thousand battles,
a thousand victories."
"Tactics without strategy is the slowest route to
victory. Strategy without tactics is the noise before
"What is of supreme importance in war is to attack
the enemy's strategy."
"To know your enemy, you must become your enemy."
"If fighting is certain to result in victory, then
you must fight."
"One defends when one's strength is inadequate. One
attacks when one's strength is abundant."
"The quality of a decision is like the well-timed
swoop of a falcon, which enables it to strike and
destroy its prey."
"Swift as the wind. Quiet as the forest. Conquer
like the fire. Steady as the mountain."
And finally, my favorite:
"Become mysterious, and you will be the master of
your enemy's fate."
Pretty heady stuff, eh? It sounds like what the legendary
Doyle Brunson seems to have learned from a lifetime
of playing poker, must have been thinking to himself
inwardly for years, but perhaps was never unable to
put to words with such elegance as Sun Tzu.
Take a close look at The Art of War, I think you
will find that it will become an important source
of guidance for your poker playing, and for all the
other areas of your life.
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