Strategic Thinking Simplified

I saw this nugget on Twitter:

I’ve never met Eileen Sutton, but we tweet back and forth a fair amount so I consider her to be a social media friend. What she says is true, yet it comes very close to simply saying They Always Have It.

Eileen apparently thought this was too simple.

She ain’t wrong.

Yet as a long-time low stakes grinder, getting wonky has led to many mistakes in situations that don’t require it. Back to the beginning: “When you’re facing a big bet, trust that you’re beat, and fold.” Because at low stakes, They (Virtually) Always Have It. Against an unknown, or any player you’ve never seen make a big river bluff, no strategic thinking is required. That wonky path, considering what else besides the nuts might be in a villain’s range, looking for possible ways I’m not beat, evaluating whether there are alternative ways to put the puzzle together, doing unnecessary math, remembering frequencies… that’s what gets me in trouble.

Most of the time, it’s easier to rely on Occam’s Razor, a logical principle that one should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed. Few poker players know this principle by name or have heard of the 14th century English Franciscan friar William of Ockham. For poker players, the simplest translation of Occam’s Razor is #TheyAlwaysHaveIt. Most of the time, that will suffice.

You have to play the player. Against many low stakes players, when they make large bets there is no need for strategic thinking. Knowing this saves energy for the few spots that require it.


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