Where We Intend To Fight Must Not Be Made Known

The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known; for then the enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several different points.

Most players catch on to players who frequently raise quickly when they make a hand, or who check then raise too often. To hide what your cards are and where you intend to make your big bets, you must have complete control over every sign, or tell, that you exhibit in the game. Even the most experienced player will give some signs of their cards through betting tells. Unless you are aware of the signs you are giving in every bet, check, call, and fold that you make, you cannot influence what your opponent perceives your cards to be.

  • Do you bet certain amounts when you are in a strong position, and less when you are in a weak position?
  • Do you bet quickly when you have a good hand and slower when you have to think about your hand (or the opposite)?
  • Have you recently caught your opponent with a certain tactic that they believe to be a tell of your hand?
  • What type of hand are you trying to tell your opponent that you have by the way you are betting?
  • Does your opponent think that you are an aggressive better or a cautious player who only bets when he has a hand?
  • Has your opponent made any assumptions about how you bet?

Sun Tzu is a huge fan of secrecy and deception. Allowing an enemy to figure out your tactics without you knowing that they have done so will lead to defeat. To throw an opponent off balance, switch your style if your opponent has figured out your style while displaying the same signs they have come to recognize.

Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

When in poker are you unexpected? Your opponent is constantly on the lookout for an attack from you. Many though abandon their judgment when they feel they have tricked you into being in a hand that you shouldn’t be playing. They don’t need to have a great hand to feel like they have tricked you into being over your head. They will quickly overextend themselves and be trapped.

If an opponent finds a weakness in your position and beings to exploit it, then set them up for an ambush. Allow them to find a weakness in your position. If they are successful to the same tactic more than once they will likely want to exploit it. Watch for players who attempt the same tactics more than once, as they will be powerless against a counter attack when they overextend themselves. Players who remain unpredictable should be watched very closely as they are conciously making sure that you do not know where to fight.

Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

If your opponent is using some tactic to defeat you repeatedly then let them win a few insignificant hands. If they grow arrogant they will eventually overextend themselves when you have a great hand and you can trap them. While you are watching your opponent, always think about what they see when they watch you. Do they see you as arrogant, or do they see you as over-cautious. As soon as a player views you as arrogant they will wait to set you up, while if they see you as over-cautious they will buy pots from you. When they peg you as being arrogant or over-cautious they have figured out where you intend to fight. When this happens they have an advantage over you and the only way to neutralize this advantage is to switch your style. Do they think they are superior to you or do they carefully watch your every move knowing that you are a great player who would not make a foolish mistake? Generally you want an opponent to think that you are weak so that your big bet will seem uneducated and they will call thinking that you have made a mistake. However, if you are playing for high stakes this might not be possible. In this case, you can still make them think that one aspect of your game is weak and attack that later in the game.

Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

Obviously betting opposite to what you have is a foolish strategy. Taken literally, this statement would indicate that you should attack when you have a bad hand and check when you have a good hand. However, Sun Tzu would not have done this with an army or a poker hand. The point here is to make your opponent think you have a bad hand when you have a good hand and a good hand when you’ve caught a bad one. Sun Tzu is simply saying that you should attack where your opponent doesn’t expect you to. This advice from the Art of War is intended to make the opponent make faulty decisions. This will make your opponent fold on hands where they could have beaten you and raise on hands in which you have them beat. With a good hand you want to bet enough to make the opponent desire the pot enough to go for it on his own accord, while not giving the opponent a sense of what you really have.


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  • Garland Dzuro, 10.03.2012, 8:35 дп

    Some truly nice and utilitarian info on this web site, as well I believe the pattern holds excellent features.

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