The Physics of Poker - How the Game Works
Just as in physics, every action you make at the poker table has an equal and opposite reaction in the odds. Like resistance pushing against an object trying to move forward, each move you make at the poker table will cause your opponents to do something in retaliation.
Indeed, image is everything at the poker table, which is why you have to be aware of yours at all times. Each move you make will subtly shift the way people perceive you and over time they will use what they’ve witnessed to categorise you.
For example, if you’ve raised 10 out of the previous 15 hands, most people at the table are going to assume you’re an aggressive player who likes to bluff. In contrast, if you haven’t been playing many hands, they will be relatively scared of you when you raise because they will think you only play strong hands.
Understanding this concept is crucial because not only will it affect how people react to you, but it will impact on how much money you can make. If you’re unaware that you’ve got an aggressive image then you will find that very few of your bluffs work; something which will cost you money.
However, if you can see players are treating you as an aggressive player then you can switch your style and only play strong hands. In this situation you’ll find that players are calling you more (because they think you’re bluffing) and therefore paying you off with weak hands.
Being successful at poker requires you to simultaneously understand and manipulate the minds of your opponents. Appreciating how each move alters the dynamics of the game is one of the skills the world’s best players are experts at. Indeed, if you can master this facet of the game above all else then you’ll find that you make a lot more money.
Poker is the game closest to the western conception of life, where life and thought are recognized as intimately combined, where free will prevails over philosophies of fate or of chance, where men are considered moral agents and where - at least in the short run - the important thing is not what happens but what people think happens.
Johnny Luckacs (1963)