Uconventional Aesthetics and Experimental Tournament Poker


It is often said of posthumously successful artists who were underappreciated in their lifetime that they were somehow ahead of their time. Their contribution to their craft could not be appreciated at the time because of its deviation from commonly accepted notions. Moby Dick is considered by many authorities and readers alike to be a brilliant work of fiction. However, looking at the reviews upon its release, one might think it was doomed to obscurity and failure.

Experimental poker players have a comparable advantage over artists in terms of the potential reward their risk entails. The avant-garde of the poker world may be blasted by their tablemates for their unorthodox play, but these players ultimately are having the last laugh. Their willingness to experiment is the key to their success. Try and imagine what people must have thought of the first squeeze play gone wrong.

Blind-stealing. The squeeze play. The resteal. These plays represent just some of the ways winning tournament players have stayed ahead of the field by employing strategies that vary from traditional card dependent methodologies. Today these plays are common knowledge, though they did not always exist. We have a handful of enterprising individuals to thank for their arrival.

As these strategies become employed more and more, their effectiveness decreases proportionally. It used to be that blind stealing on the various bubbles was a very effective way to accumulate chips. However, the rising prevalence of the resteal has greatly reduced the profitability of open stealing (some would say it has almost rendered it moot). But as one weapon becomes less valuable, the space for a new adjustment or variation is made available.

As I look back on various episodes of my brief poker career, I find that the times where I was trying new things and pushing myself to go beyond my previous understanding were not only the most enjoyable, but they ended up being the most valuable, fostering my growth at a much faster rate. When my focus drifts to my other interests in life, my play becomes robotic and uninspired. This is the quickest route to mediocrity. As the fields get tougher, if you aren’t looking for new ways to improve, the wins are going to be fewer and farther between.

There is always room for innovation in this relatively young game of ours. Will you be leading the pack, or will you simply be playing catch up?

***An important caveat to keep in mind is that as always, one must be playing within their bankroll to afford testing new theories and strategies. I would recommend that while fine tuning a new strategy or simply employing one that you aren’t comfortable executing yet, you should be playing lower than normal.