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Don’t Look at Your Cards

Liberating Strategies for Poker, Business & Life


Annette Obrestad was 15 years old when she started playing poker online. In the five months after her 18th birthday she won over $800,000. Then, the day before her 19th birthday, Annette captured a World Series of Poker Europe title and $2 Million in prize money.


To many people, Annette’s greatest poker accomplishment during that time was winning a 180 person tournament, only looking at her cards once the entire time.


In this article I’m going to reveal the strategies Annette used (and more) that can help you become a winning poker player without looking at your cards. 


In Part 2 of this series I will reveal the deeper game theory behind the poker strategies, show how to adapt the concepts for collaborative games, and explore how it all applies to business and life.


If you’d like to go even deeper, I give talks, workshops and 1-on-1 coaching around this material, please reach out to me if you’d like to learn more.


Oh, and don’t worry if you’ve never played poker before, watch this 4 minute video before diving in below, and simply focus on the concepts being presented.


If you are a poker player, your game is about to level up significantly….



The True Nature of the Game


At its core, poker isn’t a card game.


It’s a process of wisely investing your resources (i.e. betting your chips) on a desired future outcome (i.e. winning more chips than you bet) in situations that are inherently uncertain (i.e. you can’t see your opponents’ cards) and risky (i.e. the cards to come in the deck drastically impact your winning or losing).


Wisely investing your resources on a desired future outcome in situations that are inherently uncertain and risky.


If you think about your job, or even your home life, doesn’t that sound like a decent description at times?


Let’s say you are a homemaker and stay at home dad. While you may be focused on the relationships, nurturing and all the social emotional dimensions, you can also see how your work relates to my description of poker. 


You must wisely invest your time, energy, and (yes) money. On a desired future outcome of a healthy, happy, thriving family. Under conditions that are inherently uncertain and risky (that’s just life, isn’t it?)


As you read on, I invite you to think about how the concepts and strategies presented apply to your profession and your life outside of work.


So if poker is not really a card game, then it should not be surprising to you when I say the best way to learn is to not look at your cards.


Don’t Look At Your Cards

The Fundamental Theorem of Poker says


Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents' cards, they gain; and


every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose.


In other words the perfect strategy would be fairly obvious if you knew all your opponents’ cards and they had no clue about yours.


So by not looking at your cards, your opponents will remain in the dark about them as well.


The more important reason to not look is that it focuses you on two things:


  1. Look for information about your opponents’ cards 

  2. Deploy strategies that are independent of the cards


Let’s dive in, starting with number two.



Last Mover Advantage


In business negotiations it’s clearly an advantage to let the other party make the first bid. Even in the least business-y situations, when we feel there’s something at risk, we are innately wired to want to act last. Just think about the first time you told a new romantic partner, “I love you.”


It’s the same in strategic games like poker: there’s a big advantage to acting last. 


That’s because you get to see what everyone else thinks of THEIR hand by the actions they take, before you decide what to do. 


If someone makes a Call before you, you know they at least have a decent hand. If they Raise, you know they likely have a strong hand. If they Fold, well, you don’t have to worry about them for the rest of the hand. All of this is critical information.


If you knew what everyone at the table was going to do (Check, bet, Raise or Fold) before you had to act, wouldn’t you want to know? That’s the Last Mover Advantage.


Legendary player, Doyle Brunson said that if he could act last in every hand he would never lose a session of poker.


In poker, the player who acts last — indicated by the Dealer Button — rotates each hand so that the game is fair (sorry, Doyle). 


Since you always have a choice as to whether to get involved in a hand or not, you can use the knowledge of your position in the betting order to choose which hands you will play. 


This is the key strategy Annette used to win that tournament where she didn’t look at her cards.


Here’s a guide you can use:



The percentages indicate how frequently you should play your hand if nobody has already entered the pot before you. 


So for example, if you are sitting at the 15% spot, and the person in the 5% spot Folds, and the next player at 10% Folds, then you should be playing 15% of your hands.


How do you determine which 15% to play if you are NOT looking at your cards? Turns out… it doesn’t matter!


You could use a random number generator, or look up at a wall clock with a seconds hand. It’s not important to be exact. You simply want to approximate the percentages shown.


The next question is how much to bet. I recommend 4 times the Big Blind (BB) amount. So if the BB is $2, I recommend raising to $8. I’ll explain why later down.


What happens if someone Raises after you? 


If it’s the Big or Small Blind, then you Call. That’s because you maintain your Last Mover Advantage for the rest of the hand.


If it’s not one of the Blinds, then your opponent will have the Last Mover Advantage and you should usually Fold. Every once in a while you will need to throw in a Stop-N-Go (which you will learn about below) to keep your opponents from thinking you can be pushed around by re-Raising you.



Selective Aggression


To win in poker you must be selective about the hands you play, which means Folding most of the hands you are dealt. However, when you do decide to play a hand, you need to be aggressive.


By using your position to determine what starting hands to play, you are already being selective.


The aggression part means Betting and Raising rather than Checking or Calling. Checking and Calling are passive.


Mr. Miyagi said in The Karate Kid, “Either you karate do, yes. Or karate do no. You do karate do ‘guess so’, squish, just like grape.” Checking and Calling too much in poker will get you squished like a grape.


Here are the tremendous benefits of being aggressive:


A. You force your opponents to respond which increases their odds of making mistakes

B. You gain information from your opponents by how they respond

C. You take psychological control of the hand, as other players follow your lead

D. You create two ways to win 


The most important of these is the last one.


In any given hand there are two ways you can win:


  1. You wind up with the best hand at the end

  1. All of your opponents Fold


For simplicity let’s say you are heads-up against a single opponent. Let’s further assume there’s a 50% chance you make the best hand by the River. Let’s finally assume there’s a 50% chance that if you make a big Bet or Raise, your opponent will Fold.


If you are passive (you Check or Call) you only have a 50% chance of winning, because in this case you must have the better hand.


If you are aggressive by making a big bet, then in the case you have the worse hand, your opponent will Fold half the time anyway! Which increases your overall odds of winning to 75%. [That’s 50%+(50%*1/2) for those interested in the math.] 


In other words, just by being aggressive you increase your odds of winning significantly, independent of the cards.


By playing passively, you are at the mercy of the cards.


Here’s a tip that if you follow it will guarantee you play with Selective Aggression. This one tip will instantly put you in the top 20% of the players you meet at the poker table:


Eliminate “Check” and “Call” from your vocabulary


Force yourself to either Fold (be selective) or Bet/Raise (be aggressive).


Most players I give this tip to are not disciplined enough to follow it. Their curiosity, FOMO or lack of experience causes them to deviate from it. Unless you are the best player at the table, Checking and calling are the quickest ways to drain your bankroll and get you knocked out of tournaments.


If you are playing without looking at your cards, here are the three exceptions when Calling is appropriate:


  1. As mentioned above, if you Raise before the Flop and a Blind hand re-Raises

  2. You are deploying a Stop-N-Go strategy (see below).

  3. If someone bets All-In, you can look to see whether you should Call (because you believe you have the best hand) or Fold (because you feel you are beat).

To bring this point home, when Annette won the tournament and only looked at her cards once, she looked when she was faced with an All-In situation. 


It speaks to her skill in applying the concepts here that she was only faced with a tough All-In decision once the entire tournament.



Betting Patterns


So far you’ve learned that the primary way to be selective is to choose the hands you will play based on your position. You’ve also learned that the later your position the bigger strategic advantage you have in playing the hand. This is because you get to gather information on the strength of your opponents’ hands before you act.


Now you will learn the critical nature of this informational advantage and how to use it strategically. The secret is to pay attention to the betting patterns.


Let’s start with an example where you already know what to do. You are on the Button and everyone Folds to you (except the Small and Big Blinds who have yet to act). Your Last Mover Advantage combined with Selective Aggression tells you your best play is to Raise, regardless of what cards you have.



Now let’s look at the same position (you are on the Button) but with a different betting pattern:



This time the clear answer is to Fold no matter what! (Well, you should look for AA which is the best possible starting hand, and go All-In if you have it). The reasoning goes as follows.


The first player to Raise might have a good hand, but they also might have a weak hand and be trying to steal the blinds (hoping everyone else will Fold to their Raise).


The player who Re-Raises, might be trying to re-steal, but more likely has a premium hand themselves. 


At this point you need to know what a “premium hand” means to players who are looking at their cards. Here’s a chart you can use. A premium hand is in the top fifth percentile: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AK. 


Because of the show of strength of the Re-Raiser, anyone who acts after them must factor this into their decision, which means that they must have an even stronger hand. You can easily eliminate QQ and JJ from the set of possibilities of the final two players.


In fact, there is a very high likelihood that one of the players in this scenario has AA.


This practice of noticing the betting patterns throughout the hand, and narrowing down the range of likely hands your opponents have, is the single most important skill in poker


Watch how top pro, Daniel Negreanu uses this skill to win a pot with the worst cards.




First Mover Advantage


We talked about the Last Mover Advantage. What if I told you there’s also a first mover advantage (FMA) in poker?


FMA stems from three factors.


One is that by betting first you are giving yourself two ways to win, as your opponents could Fold better hands.


Secondly, the player who risks making the first aggressive move is signaling to the other players that they have a strong hand, by virtue of being in the worst position for future betting rounds.


Finally, by acting first, you are removing the FMA from your opponents’ options. Any time you can neutralize an opponent’s advantage, you gain.


All this adds up to the fact that a player needs a stronger hand to Call a Raise (or to Re-Raise) than to initiate a Raise. 


To bring this point home, let’s say you have 99 and are in the seat across from the Button where you are looking to play the top 15% of hands. If you are the first to enter, then you would Raise with your 99. 


Now let’s say you have 99 but, in this case, one of the players ahead of you comes in for a Raise. Instead of you Re-Raising, your best play is to Fold with 99 because there’s a good chance that the other player has a better hand. 


Since we are not looking at our cards in this article, can we still utilize the First Mover Advantage? Yes.


Let’s say you Raise from middle position and you get a Caller behind you, everyone else Folds. Now once the Flop is dealt, you are the first to act. You can simply Bet out and you are utilizing FMA, putting pressure on the player who called.


Stop-N-Go

Another common situation is when you are in the Big or Small Blind and it’s Folded around to the button who Raises.


Based on their Last Mover Advantage, you know that the Button could be playing with just about any cards. 


So you decide on a Stop-N-Go. That’s where you Call a raise from someone behind you in the betting order – with the intention of immediately betting no matter what cards come. 


I know I said to eliminate Call from your poker vocabulary, but the Stop-N-Go is a powerful strategy that warrants a Call… if and only if you will Raise on the Flop no matter what. 


You are Calling before the Flop in the Blind so you can be first to act after the Flop and utilize your FMA to induce your opponent to Fold.


The power of the Stop-N-Go comes from the fact that once the Flop comes, the strength of your opponent’s hand changes drastically.


For example, an opponent who Raises from late position with A-9 will have a 62% chance of beating a single random hand (which is what your hand is since you haven’t looked). If you Call from the Big Blind and the Flop does not improve your opponent’s hand, then their chances of beating you drop to 43%.


Furthermore, they will improve their hand on the Flop less than 40% of the time.


Of course, you won’t know whether the Flop improved their hand, but it doesn’t matter since you will Bet in any case. 


So, on 40% of the Flops your opponent will not improve their hand and figure to be a 43% underdog to your hand.


The other 60% of the Flops, even though they improved their hand, they need to respect and be worried about your having an even stronger hand, since you made a bet from a weak position.


In the case of A-9 (or any Ace hand except A-K), your opponents should be worried that you have them dominated.


Here’s the craziest part about the Stop-N-Go: even if your opponents know for a fact that you are doing it, most of the time it’s a mistake for them to call once you do it.


When you combine the likelihood of your opponent missing the Flop, plus the possibility that you hit the Flop, plus the power of the FMA as you Bet into them, your chances of getting your opponent to Fold are pretty good.


If you do get Raised, then you can look at your hole cards and decide whether to Fold or to re-raise All-In.



The Power of All-In


The most powerful move in poker is going All-In. 


I’m not talking about calling an opponent’s All-In bet, but rather being the aggressor and moving All-In yourself.


We already saw how aggression has serious advantages over playing passively, chief among them is giving you two ways to win. 


By going All-In you have additional advantages.


Firstly, when you go All-In you are claiming the FMA, and anyone who wants to Call must overcome the mathematical advantage it confers to you.


Secondly, when you go All-In you are putting your opponents to the ultimate test. By doing so, you increase their likelihood of making a mistake: when the stakes are high, fight-or-flight kicks in and their ability to think rationally drops. 


You also increase the consequences of their mistakes, meaning you gain maximally when they do make a mistake. To be clear, the mistake I am referring to here is when your opponent Folds to your All-In Raise with a hand that would beat yours if they were to Call. See the Fundamental Theorem of Poker above.


Furthermore, when you go All-In, you are eliminating the chances of making any further mistakes in the hand yourself. This is a critical point, because the Fundamental Theorem of Poker is really telling us that poker is a game of amplifying our opponents’ mistakes while reducing our own mistakes.


Another way of saying this is, when you go All-In, you neutralize any skill advantages that your opponents may have over you, which they might have used against you later in the hand. Since you are All-In, there are no more decisions or actions for you to take, so you can’t be outplayed from that point on.



Sizing Your Bets


For all these reasons, going All-In is so powerful, that one of the pioneers of applying game theory to poker, suggested that an amateur could compete and have a chance in the World Series of Poker if they were dedicated to either going All-In or Folding. You will recognize this as an extreme form of selective aggression.


Short Stack Strategy

I recommend you use the All-In-or-Fold strategy when your chip stack is getting low relative to the Big Blind (BB) amount. Specifically what I mean is when you have


  • 4 - 9 BBs, look for a hand where you can be the first to act and go All-In;

  • 10 - 15 BBs, look for a hand that has been Bet or Raised by exactly one player before you, and then Re-Raise All-In


For example, if the BB is $2 and you have $16 in your stack, you are looking to go All-In pre-Flop, if nobody has come into the hand yet. 


If you have $24 in your stack, you are looking for someone to Raise (or Call) in front of you, and then you go All-In.


Here’s why.


Your goal is to win the pot without a showdown; you want all opponents to Fold.


When you are very short stacked (e.g. you have $6 when the BB is $2), you are unlikely to scare anyone out with an All-In Raise. But if you bet $16 into a $3 pot ($2 from the Small Blind and $1 from the Big Blind), then you will likely win the pot without a showdown.


Similarly, if someone Raises to $6 (i.e. 3x the BB) then if you go All-In for $24, you are likely to win the blinds and the $6 bet as well without a showdown.


On the other hand, if you have a much larger stack and you go All-In on a small pot, you are risking an opponent with a great hand calling and busting you. In other words, if you bet too much, you will only get Called by a player that likely has you beat.


With that, you can start to see there’s a danger in betting too little to scare out other players, as well as an opposite danger in betting and risking more than you need to win the pot.


Very Short Stack Strategy

If you have 3 BB or less, you are unlikely to steal the Blinds with your All-In bet.


In that case you should Fold until you are in the Big Blind.


Once in the Big Blind, if you are Raised before the Flop, then Call with the remainder of your chips.


If you are not Raised, then try for a Stop-N-Go on the Flop.


Pot-Sized Bets

Outside of the above scenarios, what is the proper amount to bet when you have decided to bet?


The correct amount depends on the size of the current pot; you want to bet somewhere between half and double the pot. The sweet spot is the size of the pot.


To illustrate a pot-sized bet, let’s say there’s $3 in the pot and an opponent bets $3 in front of you. You would match the $3 bet and then seeing that there’s $3+$3+$3 = $9 in the pot adding an additional $9, which brings your total bet to $12.



It’s not important that you are exact, it’s more important that you watch how your opponents respond to your bets. Some folks are more conservative and will Fold to small Raises, and others are less sensitive to the size of your bets. Your goal with each opponent is to bet just enough to get them to Fold. 



Winning Without a Showdown


I’ve mentioned several times that your goal is to win pots, not necessarily by having the best hand, but rather by getting all your opponents to Fold. This is especially important when you are playing without looking at your cards. In this section we’ll talk about common situations that arise where you have a great opportunity to win without a showdown.


Stealing the Blinds

“Stealing the Blinds” refers to the times that you are the first player to enter the pot — with a Raise of course — and everyone else Folds. 


Generally speaking you will be stealing in the later positions because there are fewer opponents you need to Fold. When you are the Button, you only have to convince the Small and Big Blinds to Fold; which is relatively easy because they will be out of position for the rest of the hand if they decide to play against you.


After you make a successful steal, you should lay low on your steal attempts for a while to preserve your image as selective player. If your opponents peg you for a thief they will begin to play back at you by Calling and Raising your steal attempts.


On the other hand, if you haven’t been involved in a hand for several orbits, this is a good time to attempt a steal, even from early position. That’s because your Table Image — how others perceive your style of play — is one of a “tight” (aka selective) player. They will give you credit for having a good hand, especially if you come in from early position where you have a positional disadvantage for the rest of the hand.


In any case, when you are attempting a steal and you do get Called from a later position player, you can employ the Stop-N-Go to attempt to steal the pot on the Flop.


Squeeze Play

Sometimes an early position player will come in pre-Flop for a Call and then several other players will follow on passively by Calling as well. 


If you are in late position or one of the Blinds, this is a great opportunity to come in for a big Raise, possibly All-In (if that’s an appropriate bet size relative to the pot).


This is known as a Squeeze Play, and it will often win you a decent sized pot without a showdown.


The reason it works is once the first player comes in passively, the next player has incentive to be aggressive to try to isolate the passive player, who will be out of position the rest of the hand. So if they forego the opportunity and simply Call, this indicates a less than premium hand. The same logic is applied for each successive caller, indicating even weaker holdings from the later callers than the earlier ones.


Thus, when you execute your Squeeze Play by making a big Raise, it’s almost certain that the other players will Fold. At most you should get a single caller. Every once in a while you will get a Re-Raise from the initial caller.


In any case, with the Squeeze Play you should be willing to go All-In with the hand the first chance you get.


Here’s the mathematical reasoning. 


You’ve already built the pot with your opponents’ chips who have Folded (known as “dead money”). The dead money in the pot gives you extra breathing room (known as Pot Odds) to win the hand in a showdown.


Even if you are up against an opponent with the best possible starting hand (Ace-Ace) and you have the worst (7-2), you still have over a 10% chance of winning the hand at the showdown.


This illustrates an important point: before the Flop, no hand is much of an underdog to any other starting hand in Texas Hold’em.


For instance, an opponent with a top quartile hand has about at 67% chance of beating a random hand (again, that’s your hand because you haven’t looked). Which means that as long as the pot size is at least double what you are risking in your stack, you will come out ahead in the long run by taking this kind of risk.


Board Texture - Playing after the Flop

Because players start with an incomplete hand in Texas Holdem, the strength of their hand changes as the common cards (Flop, Turn & River) are revealed.


You can use the so-called Board Texture to convince your opponents to Fold on the Flop.


The concept here is that when the Flop looks to you that it likely didn’t help your opponent, or if it looks to your opponent that it likely helped you, then it’s a good opportunity to steal the pot on the Flop with a big bet.


Here’s an analysis from ChatGPT that should give you some idea, even if you are new to the game.


BTW, I highly recommend using ChatGPT to answer your questions about poker strategy and understanding terminology. 



Looking for Tells


Contrary to in the movies, picking up tells may be less important than you think, but also simpler than you think. 


There are two categories of tell to consider:


  1. Tells from opponents who are “acting”

  2. Tells from opponents unconscious of their behavior


Acting Tells

Back to the Fundamental Theorem of Poker, if we can get our opponents to believe we have a strong hand when we have a weak one, and vice versa, we win.


So it shouldn’t be surprising that players will put on an intimidating front when they have a weak hand (they want you to Fold); and they will act unassuming and disinterested in the hand when they are strong (because they don’t want to scare you out).


Notice the body language and facial expressions of your opponents who are involved in a hand, especially after the Flop when they are more committed to the hand.


The main thing you are looking for is whether they are putting on some kind of an act or exaggerating their body language or facial expressions.


With the information above you can probably tell which of these players likely has a strong hand, which has a weak hand, and which is trying to remain neutral to not give off any tells.



The important thing to understand is that someone who is acting will not go more than one level deep. Meaning if they act strong, they are weak; if they act weak, they are strong.


On the flipside, you should NOT be acting. You should be looking neutral, like the guy in the middle.

 

Unconscious Tells

While it helps to know the strength of your opponent’s hand, your ultimate goal is to predict how they will play it.


For instance, the guy on the right above clearly likes his hand, but how will he play it?


This depends on many factors you now are attuned to, including how many other players are in the hand with him, his position in the betting order, how many chips he has, what the betting patterns have been, and so on.


One huge advantage you have in playing blind is that you are able to devote your attention to observing your opponents, narrowing their possible range of hands, and gaining clues as to how they will play their hands.


It’s especially important to watch the players who act after you, watch them as they look at their hole cards, and as the Flop, Turn and River cards come out. 


It helps if you wear sunglasses so you can observe your opponents without them noticing you are observing them. 


Here are some common scenarios you are on the lookout for.


  1. If a player looks at their hole cards (or the common cards) and glances briefly down at their chips, they are intending to Bet.

  2. If they look at their cards and then take their attention off of the hand, then they are intending to Check or Fold.

  3. If the Flop comes out with three cards of the same suit, and they glance back at their hole cards, it means they don’t have a Flush, they are looking to see if one of their two hole cards is of the same suit as the Flop. Most players who have suited hole cards will remember which suit it is and thus not have to look.

  4. If the Flop comes out with three different suits, or two of the same suit, and they glance back at their hole cards, it means they are either looking to see if they paired one of their hole cards with the Flop, or looking to see if they picked up a Straight draw (e.g. they have 7-9 and the Flop came 8-T-K).Most players who have a pocket pair (e.g. 8-8) will remember that fact and not have to look again. Most player who have suited hole cards (e.g. 7-9 of Spades), will remember the suit, but not necessarily the rank of their cards. So you can rule out their having 3-of-a-kind or a Flush draw.



Looking for Tilt


Poker is a game that requires you to be in command of your emotions in order to make rational decisions, but the nature of the game often creates extreme emotions and less-than-rational decision making.


In poker terminology this is known as “going on tilt”.


Neurologically speaking, the brain activity in our neocortex (where logic and reasoning happen) decreases while the activity in the amygdala increases, as we enter survival mode.


Needless to say, we want to avoid going on tilt ourselves (we’ll talk about that in Part 2), and we want to notice and exploit when our opponents are on tilt (which we’ll talk about now).


The primary emotion associated with tilt is anger. There are three basic anger styles that correspond to how someone on tilt will tend to play, and how you may exploit these tendencies.


Aggressive Tilt: They will Bet and Raise more loosely than usual and will oversize their bets. You should avoid hands they are in because you need your opponents to respect your bets by folding. An aggressive tilter will do just the opposite.


Passive-Aggressive Tilt: They will slowplay their very strong hands and look to Check-Raise more frequently. You should avoid the passive-aggressive tilter on your Steal attempts and don’t execute a Squeeze Play when they are the first to enter the pot with a Call. However, do consider a Stop-N-Go since it’s more likely their open Raise is a steal attempt, and they will instinctively recognize your Stop-N-Go as a sign of strength.


Passive Tilt: They will Check and Fold more than usual. This is the perfect opportunity for you to break out all the strategies you’ve learned here.  When they are involved in a hand or one of the Blinds, you want to go out of your way to isolate them and play aggressively against them.Just watch out for other players who may catch on and try to make aggressive moves against you, suspecting you are taking advantage of the passive player. If you believe that’s happening, this could be a situation where you go All-In “over the top” of the opportunist, since they aren’t playing the strength of their own hand but rather are banking on the fact that you don’t have a strong hand.


How do I know which style of tilter my opponents are?


Anger/tilt styles are formed in early childhood. This means you can observe how each of your opponents naturally play and get a good sense of how they will play on tilt, but even more exaggerated.


Some players are naturally aggressive… they Bet and Raise frequently.


Some are naturally passive… they often Check and Call.


Some are naturally passive-aggressive… they like to slowplay and Check-Raise.


How can I tell when they are on tilt?


If they lose a big pot.


If they lose a pot of any size in which they were ahead and their opponent got lucky to win.


If they lose multiple pots in a short period of time.


If their words, body language and facial expressions indicate frustration or anger.



Conclusion


Research shows that when people are blindfolded, their other senses, such as hearing and touch, can become more acute. The brain reallocates resources typically used for processing visual information to enhance processing of other cognitive tasks. I believe the quickest and surest way to level up your game is to play blind and practice the strategies in this article.


Once you take your blinders off, I recommend reading Phil Gordon’s Little Green Book and watching Expert Insight: Final Table Poker. Most of the concepts shared here I learned from helping Phil produce and edit these resources. While I didn’t play blind, it was my deep immersion into these game theoretic strategies that helped me win a World Series of Poker event.


Me winning at the World Series of Poker



If you need further motivation to practice without looking at your cards, I’ll leave you with a story told by my friends about how much it can be!



Dave “Diceboy” Lambert Playing Blind


“As usual, when you take a perfectly normal game and throw Diceboy into it, things can get a little crazy. Within 30 minutes of sitting down, the average pot size had doubled and people were commenting on how wild the game was. I was used to this sort of thing happening with Dice and didn’t think much of it; at least not until I figured out why the game had gotten so wild: Diceboy wasn’t even looking at his cards!


He would just put a chip on his cards and then raise every chance he got, all the while chatting up a storm. At the river, Dice had often raised almost everyone out—having built up a huge pot along the way. Only then would he look at his cards, turn over something like a pair of fours, and scoop the pot because the other guy had a busted flush draw.


The amazing thing is, not a single person at the table realized what was going on. It took well over an hour before someone said, ‘Hey, I don’t think he even looked at his cards.’ To which some else would reply, ‘Come on, of course he did. Don’t be silly’ It was a full 90 minutes before people started watching to see if he would look at his cards when they were dealt.


When they realized that he was indeed playing blind, they all scratched their heads, reflected on the last hour and a half, and spent another 30 minutes debating whether he’d been looking at his cards at all since he’d sat down. The discussion had so distracted them that they often forgot to watch to see if he was now looking at his cards. Then they’d spend extra time debating as to whether or not he had looked on that particular hand. If it weren’t for the fact that I was there, I would not have believed it was happening.


Of course, Dice was crushing the game. By the time he got called to the no-limit game, he was up almost $400! And as usual, when Dice left the game, he had everyone’s money, and they were all talking about how great it was having him in the game.


Now here’s the kicker: The next Monday we got to the game and the manager came over to Dice right after he sat down and informed him that he was not allowed to not look at his cards. You’re not misreading that. They actually banned Diceboy from playing blind.”



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