Poker Concepts and their Limits

For more than a hundred years, there have been books discussing poker concepts and strategies. However, each of these books had their limitations and failure on concepts too. Here are some of the poker books listed chronologically with their main thesis and their limitations:

The Complete Poker Player (1880). Blackbridge discuses in his book that poker is for gentlemen playing for a minimum loss or gain only. The failure of the book is it does not help you to become a good poker player. Today, it is gunning for maximum gain that makes winners.

JackPot Poker (1881). Here, Abbot discussed mainly that you should never borrow or lend money. Today, that isn't so. Credit is a necessary means to keep private high stake games going on.

Poker Boiled Down (1890) is a book from which the elements of poker success are indicated as winning cards, patience, persistence, good temper and fortune. However, experienced pros know that fortune and winning cards no longer have bearing for success. All players do get them occasionally.

Poker (1895) by Alice Cady opined that bluffing should be shunned. Of course, today, you kill the game if you players aren't allowed to bluff.

The Science of Draw Poker (1901) is a book where Curtis wrote that "high-low poker is mental weakness and would soon die out." Today, many pros see high-low poker is a medium game for a player to gain more skills.

Poker to Win (1925) established that the most contemptible form of cheating is the welcher. But to pros, the welcher is an asset exactly because he has lost his money before borrowing.

The Complete Hoyle (1947) discusses openings: Never open unless you are sure that you have the highest hand. On the other hand, pros today have succeeded by opening with poor hands because that establishes their betting position and defends against a larger bet.

Oswald Jacoby on Poker (1947) reiterates that the most successful bluffs has to be the innocent ones. Contrary to this book, the most successful bluffs are those intended, well thought of, and are executed properly.

In Reese's and Watkins' Secret of Modern Poker (1964), they believed that to win consistently in a game, players must play tight. But that's not what succeeds in tournaments nowadays where pros win by adapting to the situation.

The most common poker advice of books from 1872 to 1968 is to keep your stakes down, play tight, hold fast to a rigid quitting game. But recent pros have done the opposite. In tournaments, they shoot the stakes up, avoids rigid quitting time, and plays accordingly to the investment odds.

Links and Resouces