The Script by Phil Gordon
In an effort to simplify my decisions, every single time it’s my turn to act, I try to run through the same script in my head:
Are my opponents playing conservatively? Aggressively? Tentatively?
What are some of the hands my opponents are likely to hold?
What do my opponents think I have?
Once I have the answer to the first question, and feel confident about my range of answers for the second and third questions, I move on to the most important question:
Should I bet or raise?
If I think I have the best hand, I nearly always answer "Yes" and I bet or raise.
If I think I can force weak opponents out of the pot with this bet or with future bets, I nearly always answer "Yes" and I bet or raise.
If I don’t think betting or raising is the right decision, I move on to the last question:
Should I check (or fold)?
If I think I have the worst hand, I nearly always answer "Yes" and I check or fold.
If I think my opponents are strong, I nearly always answer "Yes" and check or fold.
After a careful analysis, if I’m not sure if I should raise and I’m not sure I should fold, I feel confident that calling a bet (or checking) is correct.
I find that even in straight-forward and obvious situations, by running through the script I often find opportunities that other players might miss.
And by asking the "raise" question before the "fold" and "call" question, I ensure that I am playing aggressive, winning poker.
Try using this script next time you sit down at the table, and see if simplifying your inner dialog forces your opponents into making more complicated decisions.