Zen and the Art of Poker

zachvac

zachvac

Legend
Joined
Sep 14, 2007
Total posts
7,832
I saw several people recommending the book, and I got a used copy for $8 including shipping and handling at Amazon. It's got some interesting stuff, haven't run across anything I hadn't really known before, but it puts it in a much different perspective, can't tell if it's just forcing it or whether this is going to truly lead somewhere.

But I can't help but be a bit put off by this section. For those who have the book it's rule #51, it says that when you are hot you should play more hands, and when you're cold play tighter. Quoting directly from the book:

"Mathematicians tell us that each hand takes place independently of all others. This is good advice to ignore... you may be playing in a game closer to your bankroll than your opponents are (or the experts), and thus cannot afford to test out the theory"

Theory? It went on for a while about it being a game of statistics, and the fact that the outcome shouldn't matter. It emphasized the need to detach yourself from the results and know that in the long run (which is longer than you think, according to the book) the correct play overall is rewarded. Then it comes back and calls the fact that each hand is independent of every other a theory???

Continuing, "Don't go home from a cardroom with a horrendous loss just because you read somewhere that mathematically 'every hand is independent of every other,' so you just kept betting away, despite the fact that you were losing every hand, one after the other. For your purposes the hands weren't operating independently of each other".

Honestly, that's like me saying "don't go home from a cardroom with a horrendous loss just because you read somewhere that AA is the best hand and decided to play them. Despite the fact that they were cracked the last 3 times, you insisted on tempting fate and you lose again AA vs. QJo going all-in preflop. You just had to trust the so-called experts".

This is on the level of Brunson talking about ESP in his book, but Brunson doesn't pretend to be anything but a great poker player with a great poker sense. Brunson meant trust your read sometimes, although I still lost respect for him with that comment. This on the other hand is basically saying to ignore math and the fact that the odds don't change and the cards have no memory. It's not a theory, it is a testable hypothesis which has been tested time and time again. You know what they call a poker room where you have a worse chance of winning during cold runs? RIGGED.
 
NineLions

NineLions

Advanced beginner
Joined
Sep 20, 2006
Total posts
4,979
Hmm, my take on this is that I will try to stay at tables where I'm winning, and leave the ones where I'm losing.

My reasoning for this is more that, for whatever reason, the particular players or combination of players at a certain table are easier or more difficult for me to play against given my particular style and strengths and weaknesses.
 
vanquish

vanquish

Legend
Joined
Apr 26, 2007
Total posts
12,000
Don't take this book word for word, just try to interpret its more general concepts. It says some relatively ridiculous stuff in some sections, but some rules are quite important.
 
Irexes

Irexes

Legend
Joined
Oct 10, 2006
Total posts
7,016
ZATAOP is an absolutely tremendous book as far as I'm concerned. It provides the basis for devloping the real foundation of a solid game which is the correct state of mind and detachment from the result of each hand.

However that section is odd and doesn't gel with the rest of the book. It talks about playing fewer hands when you are losing and more when you are winning and alludes to luck and fate being involved. It could also be interpreted as suggesting that when you are winning you are in the right frame of mind, are picking up on the subtle cues about the game that allow you to keep winning. Basically though, I don't buy it and disregard that section (apart from when I'm running over a table and will play hugely aggressively, though I think this is more about table image than luck).

It's a great book and it talks about things that are as important to a strong game as knowing the odds, but there's no doubt there's some odd bits.
 
NineLions

NineLions

Advanced beginner
Joined
Sep 20, 2006
Total posts
4,979
ZATAOP is an absolutely tremendous book as far as I'm concerned. It provides the basis for devloping the real foundation of a solid game which is the correct state of mind and detachment from the result of each hand.

However that section is odd and doesn't gel with the rest of the book. It talks about playing fewer hands when you are losing and more when you are winning and alludes to luck and fate being involved. It could also be interpreted as suggesting that when you are winning you are in the right frame of mind, are picking up on the subtle cues about the game that allow you to keep winning. Basically though, I don't buy it and disregard that section (apart from when I'm running over a table and will play hugely aggressively, though I think this is more about table image than luck).

Some of this may be due to the author being a poker player and researcher/writer, but not, at least that I could tell from the book or from the things he said overall, a dedicated Zen practitioner.

I've read more Zen than I have poker, and don't consider myself an expert on either topic, but the book never gave me more than the sense that this was an interesting look at how elements of a particular philosophy can tie in with a particular game from an outsider's view.
 
Irexes

Irexes

Legend
Joined
Oct 10, 2006
Total posts
7,016
I agree with you Nine, the author strikes me as middling authority in terms of poker and I've no reason to believe he's more of an authority in Zen (I'm certainly not).

The book is short and repeats the same few points (from different angles, this may be Zennish(?) teaching methodology). But what it did for more was provide me with a framework for thinking about aspects of the game which have really helped in the last two years. I've never been particularly emotionally involved in the outcome of hands, but the book gave me a mental structure to refer to in order to try and stay in the right place mentally when playing.

I think my understanding of the long-run and my tiltproofness are very strong and I know that this is as much a factor in my successful play as the acquisition of strategies and tactics.

There's no point in playing 250 hands correctly in a tournament then blowing it on the 251st because you are irritated by the other gut in the hand or your ego gets in the way of making the correct move. Though I think it existed in my game before this all really came into focus for me after reading ZATAOP.

It's a book with holes in it (see the OP) and I suspect you can find truths anywhere if you are ready to find them but ZATAOP has a special reasonance for me because of the leaps it helped me make in the way I approach the game without ever once making me think about how I would play an individual hand.
 
smd173

smd173

Cardschat Elite
Joined
Apr 10, 2005
Total posts
1,520
This is on the level of Brunson talking about ESP in his book...although I still lost respect for him with that comment.

You don't believe in ESP in poker? I do.

But it's not something that I would base my play off of. I've seen enough strange things live and online to suggest that some people have an ability to forsee certain things.
 
NineLions

NineLions

Advanced beginner
Joined
Sep 20, 2006
Total posts
4,979
I agree with you Nine, the author strikes me as middling authority in terms of poker and I've no reason to believe he's more of an authority in Zen (I'm certainly not).

The book is short and repeats the same few points (from different angles, this may be Zennish(?) teaching methodology). But what it did for more was provide me with a framework for thinking about aspects of the game which have really helped in the last two years. I've never been particularly emotionally involved in the outcome of hands, but the book gave me a mental structure to refer to in order to try and stay in the right place mentally when playing.

I think my understanding of the long-run and my tiltproofness are very strong and I know that this is as much a factor in my successful play as the acquisition of strategies and tactics.

There's no point in playing 250 hands correctly in a tournament then blowing it on the 251st because you are irritated by the other gut in the hand or your ego gets in the way of making the correct move. Though I think it existed in my game before this all really came into focus for me after reading ZATAOP.

It's a book with holes in it (see the OP) and I suspect you can find truths anywhere if you are ready to find them but ZATAOP has a special reasonance for me because of the leaps it helped me make in the way I approach the game without ever once making me think about how I would play an individual hand.

Well put, Rex.

It is definitely on my list of poker books to recommend because of the type of concepts and ways of looking at them that it offers.
 
narizblanco

narizblanco

Rock Star
Joined
Sep 23, 2007
Total posts
184
The concept of ignoring the results and focusing on correct play is really the only way most players can improve once the master the game basics. It is so difficult, however, to remain calm and relaxed when a two out suckout takes all your money on the river. The emotional part of good poker is so much more difficult than the math.
 
beardyian

beardyian

Scary Clown
Joined
Apr 3, 2005
Total posts
15,845
Awards
2
I have heard this book mentioned a lot in some circles and as with many things i suggest take the things you like or you find work for you and use them.

It never hurts to be picking up knowledge even if you think it wont work for you as someday you may find yourself in situation where you need something extra and there it is sitting in the locker. :)
 
Top