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  #11  
Old 11-28-2005, 05:53 PM
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Default Re: chess and poker

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I'm a chess player from long ago, and your analysis rings true. Here are a couple other points to add.

Single-table SNGs remind me enormously of a serious chess game. They come in stages -- and you need to know how to transition between them.

1. Opening. Very formulaic. You can and should study what to do at the beginning. Play logically. Don't make mistakes. Be patient.

2. Middle game. Now you've got all your stuff in action and so does your opponent. It's parry-and-thrust time. You want to seize the initiative -- without being reckless. These are much more complex patterns, and we learn them by playing a lot and developing "intuitive" senses of when we're in command and when we need to back off.

3. End game. We're down to bare bones. Suddenly our risk tolerance changes. In chess, the king becomes an attacking piece. In poker, all sorts of hands that were insta-folds early on now ought to be pushed. . . . Tempo matters enormously, too. Zwischenzug and slow play are kindred concepts. Ditto for opposition and the gap concept.

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Wow. I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense. Maybe that's why I feel like I'm much better at single table SNGs than regular limit play. Get through the opening to a playable middlegame (don't lose a lot of chips or go bust early.) In the middlegame, accumulate small advantages (steal blinds, win small pots) and be alert to tactical opportunities that win material (win a lot of chips.) Use counterplay to meet an attack (reraise, bluff.) Defend when necessary (fold.) Convert your advantages in the endgame and deliver checkmate (lean on your opponent until he loses all his chips.)

NH

ScottieK
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  #12  
Old 11-28-2005, 05:55 PM
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Default Re: What is the link between poker and backgammon/chess/bridge?

Oh yeah, forgot about Greg. Greg's an IM last I knew. Harrington's a USCF master.

ScottieK
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  #13  
Old 11-28-2005, 06:33 PM
checkmate36 checkmate36 is offline
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Default Re: What is the link between poker and backgammon/chess/bridge?

I thought Harrington's co-author (B. Robertie) played some poker but it doesn't mention any poker in HOH, just his backgammon and chess background.
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  #14  
Old 11-28-2005, 07:54 PM
pzhon pzhon is offline
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Default Re: What is the link between poker and backgammon/chess/bridge?

It sounds like you are overemphasizing bluffing.

It's common for casual players to imagine that poker is all about bluffing, and to imagine that bluffing is not mathematical. That's part of why playing against casual players is so profitable.

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I use position well, which of course involves a lot of bluffing, but if my opponents know I am just "using" position not necessarily with a strong hand why do they respect it so much?

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Position does allow you to make some bluffs. However, it also allows you to get more value from your hands when you are ahead, and to lose less when you are behind. Many hands have to be thrown away OOP but can be played in position because you can expect to win more when your hand is good (or your draw hits) in position, and you will lose less when your hand is not good.

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What is the link between poker and backgammon/chess/bridge?

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Skills in games are correlated even more generally. It is important to recognize a strong situation. To play games of skill and chance well, you need to focus on making the right play regardless of the luck.

The doubling cube forces backgammon players to make judgements about the absolute equities, not just the relative equities. Backgammon players are used to accepting doubles knowing that they are significant underdogs, but not enough of one to pass, which is a lot like calling in poker.

The inferences bridge players make about opponents' hands from the past actions are crucial, and very similar to extracting information from the action in poker to fold or check behind with a strong hand or value bet with a mediocre hand. Bridge experts play for a particular contract or overtrick not because they are sure to be rewarded, but because the rewards justify the risks.

Playing chess well involves planning and evaluation, but another important skill some chess players have is the ability to recognize that they make many mistakes. Chess players also recognize that they can improve their game through study, and chess players tend to study more for each hour of play than in most other games.
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  #15  
Old 11-29-2005, 01:29 AM
BluffTHIS! BluffTHIS! is offline
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Default Re: What is the link between poker and backgammon/chess/bridge?

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Situational equity.

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Sounds about right, but I've never heard this term before. Could you define it?

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I like the way Gus Hansen looks at it:

1) Made hand equity

2) Draw equity

3) Steal (fold/bluffing) equity

4) Stack equity (for tourneys where the question is does your stack size allow you to wait for a better hand)

When you evaluate your position regarding your hand versus a certain board with more cards to come, you evaluate the equity of your hand from the above perspectives to see whether it is strong enough to bet, to call, to raise, to perhaps just check/call, or whether it should be folded, depending on what hands you put your opponents on (the more players in a pot, the more mathematically correct you should just play). A lot of this depends on stack sizes in big bet games which is all I play.

Pot-limit omaha gives the best example of these things to my mind. You can have a weak made hand that is currently beating a draw, such as an overpair, but really is not strong enough to bet. And you can have draws that are so weak they should be folded or should just take a free card if given, and other draws that are strong enough to call even if you were sure you were up against a set. And there are rare draws so strong that they are favorites over a set and thus should raise even knowing you are currently behind. With most good but not great draws, you should just call, unless you put your opponent on a hand he could fold in which case raising can generate fold equity for your hand.

And whether you should call with a good but not great draw depends upon having the ability to make a full pot size bet if you hit (implied odds), which in the case of a small stack held by either player would not be so, nor in the case of drawing against a tight enough player who will not pay you off on the river, or even on the turn to fill when he is getting inadequate odds to do so. And in the case of multiway action, or even headsup, your draw equity could be a lot less than what you might think if you are up against another draw, particularly if you don't have a pair to go with it (but if you were against a set then you would rather have an additional drawing card rather than a pair).

pzhon's comments about the doubling cube in backgammon thus apply very well to big bet poker where you can be correct in calling even as a current dog. Of critical importance also is that you and your opponents have to not just consider the size of the current bet being faced, but that of future bets where the action is effectively being multiplied by the action on every street. And regarding chess, you should be able to analyze your position to see if you have a reasonable chance to win or draw against a capable opponent or whether you should just resign. Chess of course is different in that it is a game of perfect information and there is no doubling. With backgammon, even though it is a game of perfect information, the dice introduce a certain element of luck, which may or may not often be able to turn a currently unfavorable position into a winner with good playing ability.

With poker obviously, a lot depends on knowing your opponents and being able to read their range of hands well in order to be able to as accurately as possible assess the equities involved when there is an element of doubt from not knowing their holdings with certainty.
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  #16  
Old 11-29-2005, 10:39 AM
Shandrax Shandrax is offline
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Default Re: chess and poker

Personally I think being a good poker player and having a chess history doesn't tell us much other than the obvious. Being good at chess shows that you have above average intelligence and that doesn't exactly hurt your poker game.

Poker and chess really don't have anything in common. In chess you can win (draw) by always playing the best move and this best move (usually) does exist. You don't have to adapt to the opponent at all. In poker this doesn't work, since there is no pure strategy. Exactly that's the reason why computers can't play poker at world class level and never will.
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  #17  
Old 11-29-2005, 11:09 AM
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Default Re: What is the link between poker and backgammon/chess/bridge?

Howard Lederer is well known for playing chess and was considered a chess prodigy as a young man. Also, Tuan Le lists his main hobby as chess, which I find interesting given that he is such an aggressive bluffer.
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  #18  
Old 11-29-2005, 03:26 PM
RiverDood RiverDood is offline
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Default Re: chess and poker

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Poker and chess really don't have anything in common. In chess you can win (draw) by always playing the best move and this best move (usually) does exist. You don't have to adapt to the opponent at all.

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I beg to differ!

Once you're 10 or 12 moves into a chess game, there's usually no consensus about the "best" move. There are multiple "lines" at your choosing that will take you into different kinds of middle games. (Somewhat similar to poker.) Chess pundits are arguing constantly about the merits of these different lines, and most of the arguments aren't fully settled. If you and your opponent are reasonably close in skill, you want to head into a line that plays to your strengths and exploits his shortcomings.

In chess: Are you the better tactician? Look for something sharp and double-edged that may let you close in for the kill within a dozen moves.

Are you better at slow positional struggles? Keep the position closed and try to outmaneuver your opponent over 40 moves.

Who's got more/less time on the clock? This has intriguing parallels to stack sizes in poker. If you've got more time in chess, you want to keep the position as complex as possible. Let the other guy make a mistake in time pressure. If you're tight on time, look for ways to simplify until you're into an endgame that plays itself.

Overall, I'd say reading opponents is 30% of what shapes your decisions in chess and a higher percentage in poker. So you're right on your second point that poker is a harder game for computers to master. But unlike checkers -- where computers really have established the best moves in most situations -- chess still has a good bit of room left for human judgment.
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  #19  
Old 11-29-2005, 05:32 PM
Skipbidder Skipbidder is offline
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Default Re: What is the link between poker and backgammon/chess/bridge?

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To be more specific, why do so many good backgammon/chess/bridge players also make good poker players?

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Do they? (outside of a couple of TV "names")

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Probably at a higher rate than people who aren't good at those games. There are still those who play badly (and think that they are much better than they really are).

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I can see the game theory element, but poker seems to be different in that bluffing is a key part of the game

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But of course .... how would one bluff when all the information needed for the correct decision is in plain view?

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That certainly isn't even close to the case in bridge. Bluffing in called a psychic during the bidding or a falsecard during the play. Psychics are less prevalent in US tournament bridge than they used to be because the governing body has taken steps against them (among the many foolish things they have done).

A similar concept between bridge and poker is putting people on a range of hands based on the prior action. You need to do this during the auction and you need to do it during the play.
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  #20  
Old 11-29-2005, 05:37 PM
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Default Re: chess and poker

[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
Poker and chess really don't have anything in common. In chess you can win (draw) by always playing the best move and this best move (usually) does exist. You don't have to adapt to the opponent at all.

[/ QUOTE ]

I beg to differ!

Once you're 10 or 12 moves into a chess game, there's usually no consensus about the "best" move. There are multiple "lines" at your choosing that will take you into different kinds of middle games. (Somewhat similar to poker.) Chess pundits are arguing constantly about the merits of these different lines, and most of the arguments aren't fully settled. If you and your opponent are reasonably close in skill, you want to head into a line that plays to your strengths and exploits his shortcomings.

In chess: Are you the better tactician? Look for something sharp and double-edged that may let you close in for the kill within a dozen moves.

Are you better at slow positional struggles? Keep the position closed and try to outmaneuver your opponent over 40 moves.

Who's got more/less time on the clock? This has intriguing parallels to stack sizes in poker. If you've got more time in chess, you want to keep the position as complex as possible. Let the other guy make a mistake in time pressure. If you're tight on time, look for ways to simplify until you're into an endgame that plays itself.

Overall, I'd say reading opponents is 30% of what shapes your decisions in chess and a higher percentage in poker. So you're right on your second point that poker is a harder game for computers to master. But unlike checkers -- where computers really have established the best moves in most situations -- chess still has a good bit of room left for human judgment.

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NH

Related to your tactician / positional play point. Initiative in chess is the counterpart to aggressive play in poker. Also, different styles (super-aggressive / gambiteer, conservative / positional grinder) are apparent in both games. Good players can win in both games with different styles.

Like poker moves, chess moves can be analyzed post-mortem. In the heat of battle, finding the best move can be easy (betting a nut, delivering checkmate) or difficult (lead out or checkraise, advance or regroup, etc.) Sometimes, what you think is a really good moves turns out to be a lemon in post-mortem, even in chess.

I would argue that stack size is the counterpart to material in chess, but I found your clock analogy interesting.

Bluffing could equate with sacrificing material in attack. If you make your opponent fold or your opponent doesn't find the right defense, then you look like a genius. If he calls you down or does find the right line, goat.

ScottieK
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