I am as much of an optimist as the next person, but when it comes to perfect poker, I contend it doesn’t exist in the real world. Not the world we live in. It’s not popular opinion to hold this view. After all, surely a poker coaching website should be aspiring for perfection? We can be positive and aspire for greatness while realising our limitations though. In this article, I will set out what perfect poker means, two reasons why I believe there’s no such thing, but more importantly, what this means for poker players aspiring to be the best.
What is Perfect Poker?
Perfect poker is the theory that there is a perfect, 100% optimal way of playing poker. It means making no mistakes whatsoever i.e. game theory optimal.
Before I set out why I don’t think perfect poker exists. I need to preface it with a couple of disclaimers. When I say perfect poker, I am referencing a perfect session, a perfect week or a perfect month of poker. A hand taken in isolation can be played perfectly, this cannot be disputed. One hand may require one decision i.e. folding pre-flop with deuce seven off suit. In many instances, this will be the perfect play, for that hand.
I also need to add a disclaimer that there are scientist’s that have worked on AI that play poker perfectly. I’m not qualified to state whether this is true or not, but even if it is, the content in this article is strictly aimed at you and me, people.
I just wanted to make these disclaimers before putting forward my case against perfect poker.
1) Humans Are Fallible
We are imperfect beings, not robots that are programmed to do certain things. We all have our own tendencies and patterns that we adopt. This translates to the poker table and is evident in our playing style. Whilst this is not a universal truth, and, with hard work we can alter our strategy, the point stands that we are human and prone to mistakes.
In order to subscribe to the notion that perfect poker can be played, we must discount the enormous factor of us being human. Be it on a conscious, or subconscious level, we will make mistakes when we play poker. This mistake could range from as seemingly innocuous as slightly under-betting to incorrectly shoving. This point cannot be stressed enough as to disregard human nature is to disregard what poker is, a people game.
2) Too Much Information in Poker
Poker is complex isn’t it? The rules are simple enough but the reason sites like mine exist is due to the inherent complexity involved. There are so many aspects to poker, each with differing skillsets required and it’s why we love it.
Texas Hold’em is the best poker format, evidenced by the fact it’s the most popular poker variant. However, this level of complexity makes it all the more harder to become “perfect” at it.
Often, there is just too much information involved for anyone to correctly assess what the perfect move may be.
This is not true for every hand in Texas Hold’em as per my disclaimer, but it will stretch to a lot. We’re making mistakes without even realising it. This isn’t even necessarily due to a lack of attention. You could be 1 tabling on a 6 max table and not take in all the information. Perhaps you missed the fact your opponent only checks twice out of position with bottom pair or worse and missed a bluff?
What Does it Mean If Perfect Poker is a Myth?
This is the crux of my article. Whilst I don’t believe anyone can play perfect poker over a sustained period of time, we can work hard and do our best to get as close as possible. Remember that “shooting for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among stars”. You can only be the best version of yourself. That’s not a negative though. On the contrary, it’s an encouraging thought and should be motivating.
I think we need to be realistic, humble and have a good worth ethic to be successful, both in poker and in life. By adopting this attitude, you are more likely to succeed. So, when you hear people bust a tournament and say they played perfect, by all means offer empathy, but don’t believe it.
I hope you enjoyed this article. If you’re interested in improving your game, we’d love to hear from you.