The Socratic Method for Texas Holdem
From time to time, Juicy Stakes gets a request for a slightly different approach to poker. Recently we got one of the most interesting requests: Can you teach Texas Holden using the Socratic Method? Needless to say, we had to look up what the Socratic Method is! Here ‘tis.
What is the Socratic Method?
In short, the Socratic Method—developed by the great Greek philosopher Socrates over 2500 years ago—is a way of getting a student to learn something deeply and to absorb the lesson by answering questions that the teacher or master asks.
The Socratic Method, then, is the exact opposite of most teaching because it does not ask the student to parrot the teacher; it asks the student to think for herself or himself and to arrive at the insight with as little prompting by the master as possible.
That is quite a challenge for us. Here goes!
Why Do Texas Holdem Players Fold so Many Hands?
The first answer a student might give is: Most hands aren’t very good. Players do get a lot of high cards but most are not an ace! There are also 12 other “high cards” which may or may not be worth betting on.
A pair of kings is a lot better than a king and queen suited.
So, if most hands aren’t very good, it makes perfect sense to fold most hands.
Why, then, Do so Many Pros Bet with Poor Hands?
The follow up answer is that pros are pros. They bet on poor hands and in poor position to give the others the impression that they have a strong hand. Now, any player can do that but only an experienced player can get away with it!
Why is Experience so Important?
You would be amazed at how much an experienced player knows about YOU if you are a lot less experienced than they are! They can read you like the back of their hand! When you play a poor hand in early position, they can usually tell if you are bluffing or not.
You don’t know that they know and they know that you don’t know that they know!
Experience is the cutting edge of any poker variation. Juicy Stakes offers many variations. The best way to gain experience is to play often. There is no other way! It’s the same with all games of skill and for all activities that require skill and practice such as playing a musical instrument, sketching, painting, cooking, baking, and so on and so on!
How Often Should a Poker Player Play?
We suggest playing every day!
But How Can I Play Every Day?
This is what is known as a Eureka moment! Obviously, the best way to play poker every day is to play at an online poker room such as Juicy Stakes! Unless you live within walking distance of a land based poker room, online poker is the way to go for the experience you need!
Another big benefit of online poker is that you can play for short stretches of time and use the down time to analyze hands and learn more about the game.
What if I Can’t Play Every Day?
First of all, the flexibility you have at Juicy Stakes means that most serious players can find 30 minutes almost every day to play.
Won’t I Have to Give Something up in Order to Play Every Day?
Yes, you might have to give something up. You could trade a full evening with your pals at the local pub to a full evening at the pub minus the thirty minutes you’ll play and the time it will then take you to get to the pub.
You can trade a full evening of streaming shows and movies to the same evening just minus the thirty minutes you’ll be playing.
We suggest that you can even trade thirty minutes of quality time with your special someone to play. Just make sure that it’s only thirty minutes!
You should also spend more time on work projects than on poker projects. You should cultivate a hobby in addition to poker. In fact, poker can be a wonderful hobby!
Is Playing for Short Stretches Better than Playing for Long Stretches?
We have not seen any mathematical assessment of the comparative benefits of short sessions versus long sessions. Our guess is that short sessions are INFINITELY better than long sessions.
Here are a few reasons why we think that long sessions are less valuable to new poker players and players who are seriously trying to up their game.
- The longer you play, the harder it is to concentrate.
- The longer you play, the more bored the game can become especially if your luck is running dry.
- The longer you play, the more your other responsibilities will weigh on your mind and can cause you to make poor decisions.
- The longer you play, the hungrier you will be.
- The longer you play, the more tired you will be.
Won’t I be Betting from Early Position More if I Play for Only Thirty Minutes?
That question is correct but it has a major hole. The fact is that every Texas Holdem player will be betting from early position most of the time no matter how long their poker sessions are!
If I Have to Bet so Often from Early Position, What Should I Look for on Every Hand?
Similar to the question we raised above, this is a fine question with a gaping hole in it. The fact is that the things you have to pay attention to are things you have to pay attention to on every hand.
Sometimes you have to look at your cards from the early position you are betting from. Sometimes you simply have to look. Here are a few things you have to look for and see clearly on every hand.
- What is each opponent doing?
- What are they doing in early, middle, or late position?
- Are the opponents telegraphing strength or weakness in any given hand?
- Are the opponents exhibiting confidence or low self-confidence?
Is it True that I Have to Look at My Opponents More than I Look at My Own Cards?
Yes, it is! We are thrilled that you have reached this level of insight in such a short time!
Given that you will fold about 70% of your hands before the flop and given that you will fold a large percentage of hands that you stay in for the flop, it stands to reason that you will have a lot of time to evaluate your opponents!
Have I Reached the Point Where I can Graduate to a Higher Stakes Level?
Indeed not! But that’s Okay! Poker takes time! You’ve come a long way! Keep up the good work! The next time we use the Socratic Method to learn good attitudes about Texas Holdem, we will start with some pertinent questions about stakes and we’ll go on from there.
In the meantime, we will leave you with one final Socratic Question: Where is the best place to play online poker?
In our humble opinion, Juicy Stakes Poker is the best online poker room! Join us here and enjoy our full complement of poker games and possibilities!