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Art or Science (or ???)

JCW Posts: 591Subscriber
edited November -1 in NLHE Strategy Discussion
I love to find what the book Awake the Giant Within calls Core Beliefs. BTW Danial Negreanu once called the book the best Poker Book ever.

If you don't know what a Core Belief is I will simply say that it is a foundational belief in the Hierarchy of beliefs we hold. It is a belief that other conclusion and other other beliefs are founded on. For example, if you believe all people are basically good or all people are basically evil, then that belief will be the foundation that a lot of your beliefs and conclusion in life will be founded on. So it can be said that identifying Core Beliefs can be important for understanding motivation and creating change.

Anyhow, one of my core beliefs is that Poker is an Art. But I suspect that a lot of people Core Belief is that poker is a Science.


Any thoughts?
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Comments

  • DavidChan Posts: 1,208Pro
    My quick answer is that Live Poker is both Art and Science.

    Often, I make plays in poker based upon live reads, psychology, even physical tells. Hence, poker = art.

    Often, I make plays in poker based upon combinatorics and ranges. Hence, poker = science.

    I think the best live poker players have strong fundamentals in both the "art of poker" and the "science of poker."
  • TDF Posts: 1,130Subscriber
    Poker is a pure math problem. And it will be solved as such in not so distant future.
  • Arenzano Posts: 1,399Subscriber
    Poker is neither fully art or fully science. It is a combination of the two and people will play based on how their brains are wired. Left brain v Right brain.
  • JCW Posts: 591Subscriber
    Not much input here from the field. Besides for TDF, didn't get any real answers.

    I really personally think there is a lot here if you take the time and really think about what you believe.

    For example, TDF I believe that is what you believe. I can see it in your post. And it might be true. I don't know.

    I personally believe that is is more of an Art. That the math is VERY important but is the starting point of good poker. It is not the end result. That successful poker is using the math but Accepting how people play and exploiting that play. And much of that doesn't come from the math but by observation, acceptance and adjustment. That is more of an Art in my eyes.

    So I ask people again, to really think about it. Do you believe that Poker is an Art or a Science. I think if you answer that you might start to see how it shapes your view of the game.
  • whatsyourplay? Posts: 752Member
    In my opinion, an understanding for the math is (only) the "foundation" or "prerequisite" to become a solid poker player. You need to master it in order to avoid making too many "basic" mistakes. You could call that the science part.
    The science part is necessary to reach a certain level of competence, but it's nowhere enough to become a really successful player which his opponents fear. Only with other qualities will you reach that stage, like creativity, thinking outside the box, psychological strength, etc... I would summarize these other factors as the art part.

    One example: When you play on a certain level (let's say 5/10 live or 1/2 online for the sake of the argument), an important element of being successful against decent competition is thinking ahead and anticipating what your opponents will do or how they are going to react to something. In order to do that, you need to be good at determining how they are thinking ("on which level" is a very simplified view, but it can be used as an example). Math won't help you to find that out. If you are not able to judge that precisely, you can't adjust your play adequately. E.g. you won't know when to switch from an exploiting play to a more balanced play or vice versa.

    My belief is that the science part can be learned and taught by books, videos, etc. The art part must be acquired by experience and depends to a higher extend on "talent". It's probably the more difficult one.

    Just my two cents, might be a bit philosophical.
  • OminousCowOminousCow Posts: 702Subscriber
    I don't know if art/science is the distinction that you want to draw here, especially without defining your terms. I think that without having a discussion of precisely what you mean by each term, everyone will be talking past each other.

    The breakdown that people are making seems to be along the lines of what you can easily put into words and what you cannot.

    "I called because my equity against the villain's range was good enough given pot odds" vs. "Something about the hand just made me not believe him so I called".

    With enough practice, some things that initially fall into the first category move into the second category. Some decisions just bubble up to the second category without ever really passing through the first.

    I tend to fall into the more analytical mode where I can put most of my decisions into words so I guess that roughly maps to science.
  • JCW Posts: 591Subscriber
    OminousCow said

    I don't know if art/science is the distinction that you want to draw here, especially without defining your terms. I think that without having a discussion of precisely what you mean by each term, everyone will be talking past each other.

    Good point.
  • TDF Posts: 1,130Subscriber
    JCW said I personally believe that is is more of an Art. That the math is VERY important but is the starting point of good poker. It is not the end result. That successful poker is using the math but Accepting how people play and exploiting that play. And much of that doesn't come from the math but by observation, acceptance and adjustment. That is more of an Art in my eyes.
    How do we "exploit how people play"? We put them on ranges. Narrowing their ranges just allows our math be more precise. Also to put them on range we use math again - we observe what percentage of hands they play preflop, bet or call postflop. It's all just simple math when you think of it.
  • whatsyourplay? Posts: 752Member
    Math doesn't help you to assign a precise range. It only helps you AFTER you have assigned a range. Also, math won't tell you how villain is going to react with different parts of his range.
    To believe that math will solve the entire game of poker is just nonsense. It might be possible to calculate GTO strategies one day, but since they are clearly not the most profitable way to play against 99.9% of poker players, it won't be that useful for us anyhow.
  • TDF Posts: 1,130Subscriber
    whatsyourplay? said
    Math doesn't help you to assign a precise range.
    ??? But how do you assign range? It all comes from percentages. Tight player has low percentage of hands playing PF. Agro has high percentage of raising. It's all just math. How else would you do it?
  • TDF Posts: 1,130Subscriber
    whatsyourplay? said It might be possible to calculate GTO strategies one day, but since they are clearly not the most profitable way to play against 99.9% of poker players, it won't be that useful for us anyhow.
    GTO strategy is not "might be possible" it's 100% exist. And how can you be so sure that it's not the most profitable way to play if nobody even knows what it is?
  • reedmylipsreedmylips Posts: 1,145Subscriber
    TDF said

    Poker is a pure math problem. And it will be solved as such in not so distant future.
    NL full-ring poker is not a "pure math problem" because it deals with people making decisions, and people making decisions leads to variation and chaos that math cannot explain. A combination of some math skills, some psychology skills, and a LOT of live experience is what it takes to win at live poker, which sounds like an "art" to me.

    I'm a middle school teacher. Politicians in America are trying to turn teaching into a science with standardized testing. Teaching is an "art" and will never be a "science" because it involves relationships between human beings. There are specific skills that can be learned to make teachers more effective, but the ability to adapt, improvise, and relate to people is an art, and can only be honed and mastered through acquiring skills along with a LOT of experience working with people.
  • TDF Posts: 1,130Subscriber
    We're in medieval times in poker and we believe that anything we can't explain from mathematical point of view is just magic. I think it would be much better for your game to look for rational explanations in areas of your game which you believe to be an art or magic at the moment cause those are the areas you're lacking knowledge the most. Thinking that poker is art is pretty bad for your development cause you can't really learn art (I guess) and it gives you excuse not to study. If you believe that poker is science than you know that you just need to put enough effort in to solve it.
  • reedmylipsreedmylips Posts: 1,145Subscriber
    TDF said

    We're in medieval times in poker and we believe that anything we can't explain from mathematical point of view is just magic. I think it would be much better for your game to look for rational explanations in areas of your game which you believe to be an art or magic at the moment cause those are the areas you're lacking knowledge the most. Thinking that poker is art is pretty bad for your development cause you can't really learn art (I guess) and it gives you excuse not to study. If you believe that poker is science than you know that you just need to put enough effort in to solve it.
    TDF,

    I respect the fact that you post a lot and study and want to learn the game. I don't think you and I think that "art" means the same thing. Things that are "artistic" in nature are experienced-based. In artistic endeavors, there are many correct ways to accomplish whatever goal you are trying to achieve. By "scientific," it seems like you believe that you "just need to put in enough effort to solve it." The best computers in the world haven't solved heads-up NL, not to mention full-ring! Computers have only "solved" heads-up LHE.

    I play the oboe. The skills I've acquired through study, practice, reflection, lessons, and a TON of playing experience, have led me to be competent. That is art and not science because the next oboist could get different training, make his/her reeds differently, had different playing experience, and still be competent. There is no "one way" to play the oboe, or "one way" to play NL hold 'em, NL is a game with people. If that was the case, the game wouldn't be evolving, and the players that "put in the most effort to solve it" would always come out on top.

    Chris
  • TDF Posts: 1,130Subscriber
    Computers haven't solved full ring NL yet only because they are too slow to process all the information at the moment. You know that chess was considered as art 20 years ago? Poker is on the same path.
    What you are talking about seems to be "Intangible Competence" stage of learning in terms of Jared Tendler's Mental Game Of Poker 2 and you need to convert it into "Conceptual Competence" to advance in your learning of the game.
  • reedmylipsreedmylips Posts: 1,145Subscriber
    I think we may respectfully disagree on this art or science of poker topic.

    However, since you seem to be on the science-side of things, can you PLEASE take your scientific way of thinking about poker and comment on my 10/20 LHE hand I posted? Mathematically, what the hell is my river play? This should be easy for you since it's a limit game and the math is more straight-forward. cool Thanks in advance!!! laugh
  • JCW Posts: 591Subscriber
    Here is a different take on all of this.

    There is on answer to this. Even if it is all math (as it might be) it is math beyond any scope that we can use now.

    Seat selection is math? Talking to your opponent to get him to call you is math? Making a read on a guys breathing is math?

    Maybe so, but at this point it is better to just call that Art (or Magic if you wish).

    But the point of all this isn't what Poker is. But what YOU BELIEVE it is. And the reason again is that which ever you believe can effect other beliefs about poker.


    In my case, since I see it as an Art. I find A LOT of these hand history questions to be pointless, incomplete and even silly. Sure some are easy math problems. But most of them I read it and think, WFT? How can I answer this?

    And I guess that is because I see the game as an art. And reads, table dynamics, etc... so often are as important or even more important than the math. There are a lot of times when I might be getting 10:1 on a call but I know I lose 100%. In the forum, post I just don't get that.

    I'm not saying that ALL forum post are a waste of time. I'm just saying that from my perspective they are difficult, incomplete and the true answer is not always in the post.

    So to just recap. I think it is sometimes more important to identify what you believe than to try to discover the truth. At least for the sake of personal growth.
  • whatsyourplay? Posts: 752Member
    TDF said
    whatsyourplay? said
    Math doesn't help you to assign a precise range.
    ??? But how do you assign range? It all comes from percentages. Tight player has low percentage of hands playing PF. Agro has high percentage of raising. It's all just math. How else would you do it?
    NL 5/5, eff. stacks are 650.
    Villain raises from MP, Hero holds AQs in HJ.
    What's your play?
    How does math solve this question?

    NL 5/5, eff. stacks are 500.
    Hero raises KK from UTG+2, folds to villain in SB who calls.
    Flop T87ss, Villain checks, Hero bets, Villain raises.
    What's your play?
    How does math solve this question?

    NL 5/5, eff. stacks are 1,000
    Villain raises from UTG, MP1 calls, HJ calls, Hero calls on BTN with Th9h
    Flop 7c6c2h
    Villain bets, MP1 calls, HJ folds, hero calls
    Turn Kd
    Villain bets, MP1 folds, Hero calls
    River 8s
    Villain checks, hero bets how much?
    How does math solve this question?
  • whatsyourplay? Posts: 752Member
    TDF said
    whatsyourplay? said It might be possible to calculate GTO strategies one day, but since they are clearly not the most profitable way to play against 99.9% of poker players, it won't be that useful for us anyhow.
    GTO strategy is not "might be possible" it's 100% exist. And how can you be so sure that it's not the most profitable way to play if nobody even knows what it is?
    I really don't want to discuss this topic all that much, since every poker forum is full of it, while it is totally overrated and pretty useless for the vast majority of poker players.
    It's totally sufficient to remember that GTO is a defensive strategy, which you would want to use against an oppnent which also uses this strategy, so that he can't exploit you. By doing so, you basically give up the opportunity to exploit him in return (which makes sense as he doesn't make mistakes anyhow). I.e. you don't win money from exploiting him, but you only prevent yourself from loosing money by being exploited. This approach is totally counterproductive in almost all situations, since we give up all those opportunities to exploit our opponents (which should be our main objective in low and mid stakes games).
  • whatsyourplay? Posts: 752Member
    TDF said

    Computers haven't solved full ring NL yet only because they are too slow to process all the information at the moment. You know that chess was considered as art 20 years ago? Poker is on the same path.
    What you are talking about seems to be "Intangible Competence" stage of learning in terms of Jared Tendler's Mental Game Of Poker 2 and you need to convert it into "Conceptual Competence" to advance in your learning of the game.
    The comparison between chess and poker is misleading, since the former is a game of complete information, while the latter is a game of incomplete information. You can't calculate most situations in poker because the information you would need for that is not available. E.g. you can't determine a villain's 4betting range or turn check/raising range, as (1) you will never reach a sufficient sample size, and (2) such ranges are not static but dynamic (=depening on other factors such as stack sizes, your image, villain's mood, etc...). After one hour or one day, his range might be completely different from five minutes ago.

    For this reason, you have to come up with shortcuts and estimates, which requires experience, psychological skills, reads, observation of other factors, etc. That's what I would call the art part.
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