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Old 12-07-2005, 05:52 AM
Zim Zim is offline
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 40
Default Accelerated learning: Chunking your poker education

Hey guys,

In brief: Learning poker through example is superior to learning via the fundamentals.

Not sure if this has been raised before, and I could be completely wrong, but I thought I might throw it out there ... as it seems to be something Ed refers to on occaision.

I'll try to be brief.

Used to teach English in Asia, actually ... I more pretended to teach it, but thats another matter. In any event, while in Japan I was subject to the most horrid English I have ever come across in all my travels.

The education system relied on a sort of grammatical approach to teaching English. From day one, sentences were broken down into their structures, and these structures into components, and once these components were learned, the structures mastered ... you could construct your own sentences.

Doesn't work.

Teaching another culture adjectives, articles, conditionals, etc .. only creates some of the most bizarre sentences you'll ever hear in your life. Some of them might even be grammatically correct, only no native speaker would ever use them.

Most often of course, the sentences were simply wrong. As an application of one grammatical principle might come at the expense of another.

The student, of course, was told to return to the books ... and study more grammar so he'd get it right next time.

I abandoned this approach (much to the delight of my students) in short order, opting for a lexical approach.

"The lexical approach to second language teaching has received interest in recent years as an alternative to grammar-based approaches. The lexical approach concentrates on developing learners' proficiency with lexis, or words and word combinations. It is based on the idea that an important part of language acquisition is the ability to comprehend and produce lexical phrases as unanalyzed wholes, or "chunks," and that these chunks become the raw data by which learners perceive patterns of language traditionally thought of as grammar (Lewis, 1993, p. 95).

*The key principle of a lexical approach is that "language consists of grammaticalized lexis, not lexicalized grammar."

Essentially, that grammar follows context. Yet a hundred million Japanese students were attempting to creat context from grammar.

This thought sorta hit me as I was working my way through SSH and trying to apply my understanding of pot equity, pot odds, implied odds, reverse implied odds, position, expectation, hand value, etc ... etc ... in the example quiz at the end.

Got most of 'em right, but not all of 'em. And in the afterthought, a question was raised as to how experts make lightning fast, correct, instant responses.

Some of these experts, I suspect, might not be able to explain the nuances of determing the correct odds, anymore than most native speakers could give me a definition of the second conditional, yet we use it correctly all the time.

(I suspect some might even attempt to brush off the question by saying: "poker's a game of psychology, not math.")

So I guess I'm thinking that the basis of good poker is not psychology or math, but lexis.

(hope that's not too much of a stretch)

"Lexical approach advocates argue that language consists of meaningful chunks that, when combined, produce continuous coherent text, and only a minority of spoken sentences are entirely novel creations"

When I think of applying this to poker, I think of immersing myself in hand examples played by professional players. Hidden within this context are all the correct fundamentals, much in the same way as learning a sentence "chunk" follows all grammatical rules.

Might be all wet here, and if this has been brought up before ... my apologies for the redundancy. As a newb, I'm simply looking at the most efficient way to learn poker, and I keep coming back to modeling competent players.

As opposed to making up my own sentences.

Thanks for any feedback, and if you have any thoughts on books that give a billion hand examples for limit, I'd be indebted.



All the quotes are used from the following website:
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Old 12-07-2005, 06:36 AM
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Accelerated learning: Chunking your poker education

NOTE: Sorry about spellings- this was a little rushed- I am at work!


I'm at (roughly) the same stage as you. I want to learn poker as quickly and efficiently as possible. That doens't mean I want to take short cuts, or not put the work in- but I just want to be sure that the time I am spending, is spent in the most efficient way.

.... Which (as I gather) is basically your approach.

However, I do believe that to be really good, you DO need to "make up your own sentances". The frustrating thing about poker is that when you watch a pro play, there is not much that you can pick up that tells you why he played each hand like he did.

If you could pick it up from the absorbing the patterns, I'm sure there would be MANY more excellent players than there are.

I beleive poker is far too "dynamic" to be simply modelled on hand patterns.

If you comapare it too language- I see language (ie a conversation) as a linear 2D process. One person strings some work together in a certain way and it means something. Consequently you can assimilate the meaning (outcome) with the words you heard. ie you have something tangible (the sounds made by the spoken word) which produces something intangible (the perceived meaning, in your mind).

With poker, it seems to be the other way round- the intangible (the thought processes that lead to a decision) result in a tangible reality- the cards you either play or fold, the chips you put in, etc.

I have studied NLP a little in the past and so I know the about the concept of "modelling" winning behaviour. But something about poker, makes me suspect it is not suited to this "bypassing" of the fundamentals.

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Old 12-07-2005, 07:21 AM
ohnonotthat ohnonotthat is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: New Jersey - near A.C.
Posts: 511
Default Re: Accelerated learning: Chunking your poker education

Because such a large percentage of MOST forms of poker is rote (I'm putting on my helmet to absorb the more vicious blows from the others but we all know it's true) book learning is both far more efficient and far less EXPENSIVE.

There is alot you can only learn from experience but you're better able to group different situations (that are in reality only slightly different from one another) into categories if you have a sound "academic" foundation.

I know of no books with a billion hand examples because there aren't a billion hands that all play differently from one another.

I start with A-A.

The flop will result in either a set or an overpair for my hand.

With the exception of a very small number of horrendously frightening flops I don't much care what comes down if one of those cards is a 3rd Ace.

If I don't flop a set I am going to proceed based on the texture of the flop but while there are 19,600 distinct flops there are only a handful of distinct TYPES (categories) of flops.

Totally ragged and non threatening: Q-7-2 rainbow, K-8-3 or K-8-2 rainbow (no draws)

Very ragged and virtually non threatening: K-9-4/r, Q-8-2/r, J-4-2/r, 9-5-4/r, etc.

Slightly coordinated: two to a suit with no straight draw or two connecting ranks/rainbow

I could go on, and will if it'll help, but the flavor of your post suggests you are not someone who needs visual aids or remedial assistance.


BTW, while I find your approach to teaching a 2nd language to likely be both efficient and overall more successful for SPEAKING; how well do you think your former students are doing with the [English] written word ?

I used to know a man who posessed what I'd guess to be 10,000+ word vocabularies AND a fluid and eloquent style of speech - in Spanish, English, and Tagolog (sp. ck - Philipino). We met many years ago when he stopped me in the street and asked me the destination of the approaching bus. This particular bus was a local and was heading for "Vehicle temporarily out of service".


Poker, as is the case with many games, is about concepts - many of which would take an eternity to learn if one's only teacher was experience.

I suppose there is nothing that cannot be learned solely by observing and remembering if you're able to tolerate the snail-like progress such an approach would yield.

I am not that tolerant.


Few people are.
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Old 12-07-2005, 07:24 AM
ohnonotthat ohnonotthat is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: New Jersey - near A.C.
Posts: 511
Default Re: Accelerated learning: Chunking your poker education


Very well done.


Do you think between the two of us he's convinced ?

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