The Tree of Poker


Lessons that will help you reap the benefits of Poker.

The legendary NBA athlete, Michael Jordan once said “You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”

Jordan, as an athlete is renowned for his discipline, consistency, perseverance, and grit throughout his career. He spent a large amount of his free time working on his skill set, but more importantly he invested the majority of that time working on the fundamentals.

That brings us to winning at poker. Like any other sport, poker has its own set of fundamentals that need to be constantly prioritized to be proficient in the skill based mind sport.

Lets visualize poker as a tree that bears each opportunity (for profitability) as a fruit. One must understand that not all fruits are equally accessible and valuable. At the bottom of the tree we have the “low-hanging fruit,” which represent the fundamental concepts that are easy to learn and very important to understand. Concepts include pot odds, pre-flop hand selection, continuation-bet strategies, etc.

Then come the “mid-hanging fruit,” concepts that are tougher to grasp and less consequential than the low-hanging fruit. Strategies such as blockers and basic balancing strategies fall under this category.

Finally, there are those isolated “high-hanging fruit” which are not only hard to reach, but may also hurt us in the process of trying to get them. These are the most elaborate and subtle game theory concepts that include bluff-to-value ratios, minimum defense frequency, optimal balancing, etc. If used correctly, these strategies will give one a relatively small win-rate boost, but on the flip side, if you used incorrectly it can cost your poker career.

If we neglect low-hanging fruit in favor of higher-hanging fruit, we run the risk of potentially “winning the battle but losing the war.” Let’s draw a reference of your favourite band. Let’s say they have been working on this crazy drum-solo at the end of the song, all that while neglecting the basic early parts. As a result, during the concert, the beginning of the song feels off because the rhythm section is not doing its job. Guess what happens when it is finally time for the crazy solo at the end? Nobody enjoyed it as much because the basic rhythm of the song was lost.

Don’t thread on that tightrope, because that’s not what defines winning in poker. Rethink your study habits and move onto complex concepts only after you’ve nailed the fundamentals. Don’t be “Penny wise Pound foolish”.