23/01/2012

A Question of Evolving Strategy

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

I have become a very keen student of financial trading over the past few years and this is an area that I am slowly but surely moving into. The similarities with poker are striking and pricing options and no limit ring games have many of the same redeeming qualities and characteristics. So much so that I was reading about an ex-professional poker player who moved across into trading options and then teaching and coaching who used poker as part of his coaching methods.

What is immensely striking in these two fields is in how they rapidly evolved due to technological advancements. There were always massive amounts of money floating around on the financial markets but as soon as electronic execution systems became available then the liquidity went through the roof. The same happened in poker because the amount of money being wagered in poker was miniscule compared to the total amount in the post internet era. The total amount of global liquidity in online poker is staggering now but this has attracted very large numbers of people to the game.

The natural knock on progression of this is that the average skill level and understanding is higher as a result of people being more serious because of the financial implications of becoming good. There is no easy money these days in online poker because our opponents are no longer making huge obvious errors. In one aspect then online poker is tougher than financial trading because as you move up to serious levels then your opponents have the capability to be able to watch you very specifically and they can also use software to track your play as well.

This is not so in financial trading to a large extent and you can pretty much come in under the radar far more easily. However there is one common denominator that all leading traders adhere to and this is that they are very careful not to use strategies that are too well known to the masses. Using an unconventional strategy doesn’t necessarily make it bad and it certainly doesn’t make it sub-optimal. It is fast reaching the stage with online poker that one of the primary uses of education is to avail yourself of the knowledge that other people have and then design strategies to combat that.

You need to start with one very important assumption in poker. You know the old saying about assumption... I won’t repeat it... but in the right circumstances then assumption can be a good thing as it can keep you safe. The assumption is that your opponents are tougher than what you think and your edge isn’t as great as what you think under normal circumstances. Once you understand that then you can begin making the necessary alterations to your conventional ABC game that will give you an edge over the masses who only know one way to play.

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