Not let us address the issue of "books" vs. "experience".
In the beginning of his book, 'Your Worst Poker Enemy', Alan Schoonmaker address the question 'How should we learn? By intuition or by logic?'
His arguments can essentially be applied to the book vs. experience question as well [the below argument is mostly a paraphrase of Schoonmaker's].
Let me first be VERY
clear that I am NOT advocating book learning as a substitute
for playing, only that playing alone can not possibly be as advantageous as structured study combined with table experience.
Why? As Schoonmaker notes, the advantage of a logical/structured/book approach over an intuitive/experience/playing approach are:
1. It is correctable.
Since the process is visible, you can see exactly where your error(s) was, and therefore correct it. With an intuitive approach you might feel something is not right, but not be able to
accurately make the necessary adjustments due to an inexact methodology or thought process.
2. It is easily teachable. Since a logical process can be broken down into clearly defined steps, others will be able to duplicate it. While you might not be able to write 'The Theory of Poker' you are more than capable of reading it and
understanding its tenets and principals and applying them to your game.
And, here is the one I think that translates best to our arugment that experience alone is necessary but not sufficient:
"If I have seen further than other men, it was by standing on the shoulders of giants." --Sir Issac Newton. Schoonmaker gives another example: it took a genius in Euclid to develop geometry, but we learn it easliy and quickly in high school.
Surely you don't think that highly of yourself to claim that you can "figure out" poker simply through your own (necessarily) limited experience, do you?
You can't reasonably claim that leaning something like the basic math of odds is easier to do on your own, or to do individually everytime you run into a situation, rather than memorizing the more commen ones from a chart, can you?
You don't think that you are smarter than someone like Mason Malmuth, and that he and his statistical background can't teach you anyting, do you?
You didn't come up with tournament concepts like "M" and "Inflection Points" on your own, did you?
Thinking that you are "just fine" with your own personal playing experience is utterly ridiculous:
1. You are not smarter than everyone who has ever played the game. You wont figure all this stuff out on your own.
2. Even if you are you will learn much faster and take advanced concepts much father if you do read previous thinkers' works (see the Newton quote above).
3. The human mind is prone to recall bias and self delusion. Even the most brilliant of minds will be hindered by these human flaws, which will, at the very least, slow down your learning and/or understanding of
the game if you are simply attempting to master poker on your own.
So, as you can plainly see, anyone who is serious about their poker game
needs to study the works of those who understand the game.
Is experience necessary for mastery of the game of poker? Absolutely. Is it sufficient for mastery of the game of poker? Defiantly NOT