What Can Poker Players Learn from Chess?
Poker is harder than both chess and GO which are generally considered the foremost mind games in the world. The reason poker is so hard has nothing to do with the poker rake but that in chess and GO the players see everything on the board while in poker, there are always hidden cards.
Poker Players Can Learn a Lot from Chess!
Nevertheless, chess has much to teach us. Just as in poker, chess has many basic principles of strategy. There are as many as 50 depending on who is making the list so we at Juicy Stakes Poker decided to pick a few and explain how they relate to poker as well as to chess!
Time out to Talk about the Rake Yet Again!
By the way, we mentioned the poker rake in the introduction because we still hear from players who are concerned that the rake at Juicy Stakes might be too high. The rake at Juicy Stakes is fundamentally not too high!
We take a rake in order to pay our bills. That’s the full extent of it. The rake is limited to $3 per pot so it is never too high! It is true that as a percentage of the pot, the rake might be higher in low stakes games than in high stakes games but that is not a reason to play in high stakes poker games until you have developed the skill set needed to do so!
But, let’s get back to the chess vs poker discussion with some chess principles that can help poker players.....
Principle #1: Control the Center of the Board
In chess, the center is key because all pieces except the pawns can range much farther and are far more flexible if they are placed in the center of the board. Of course, both players are trying to do the same thing! In poker, the center is the pot! If we can become skilled enough to control the pot on many hands, we will end up winning more money in the long run.
Just as in chess, the first few moves are designed to approach, attack, or control the center but a lot of the posturing is intended for use in the long run! The same is true in poker. We might raise before the flop in order to force players out of the hand. We might want to put pressure on the blinds since they have already put some money in the pot and want to defend that “investment”.
Betting in strategic ways and at strategic moments is the best way to control the center or the pot.
Principle #2: Develop Pieces
In chess, we move the pieces off the first rank toward the center. That gives the pieces greater range of motion. The lowly pawns have a vital role to play but, in the beginning, we should move pieces whenever we can.
In poker, developing the pieces means developing doubt in our opponents’ minds. It is another way of looking at the first principle.
Developing confusion and doubt can cause consternation in an opponent. If he or she shows worry, it might be helpful to you later on, possibly ten hands down the road! The obverse side of developing confusion and doubt in an opponent is to not be predictable.
Developing pieces in chess might be developing a bluff to use on a later hand!
Developing doubt in an opponent will cause them to enlarge you hand range and may force them to fold hands that at that stage of the hand are better than your hand.
Principle #3: Don’t Move the Same Piece Twice in the Opening
We don’t move the same piece twice in the opening in chess because it is considered a waste of time and time is very important in chess. Time gives one player the upper hand in developing an attack.
The equivalent in poker is checking instead of continuation betting. A continuation bet telegraphs strength. It might be a bluff or it might be real. But checking after betting is a sure sign that the player has nothing.
It might be limping in before the flop. Players who do that, especially in early position, are very apparently weak. Even if your hand is weak and you want to see the flop and you are betting from early position, it is strategically better to raise.
That’s the main reason that so many players simply fold in early position: they don’t want to raise and they don’t want to limp in.
Principle #4: Castling Moves the King ti Safety
The poker equivalent is three betting or continuation betting. In either case, you will cause some players to fold which may move your hand to “safety”.
A corollary to this principle is to connect rooks. Three betting and continuation are poker aspects of connecting rooks.
Principle #5 Knights on the Rim are Grim
Limping in is a sin!
Principle #6: Avoid Double Pawns and Avoid Isolated Pawns
In poker, we need to fold when we need to fold! We should never bluff a player who never folds. He or she loses a lot of money but bluffing them out of a pot is not the way to win their money!
Principle #7: The King is a Strong Piece in the Endgame
In the open field, so to speak, the king can gain the opposition and can control the opposing king. In poker, a lowly pair may be the best hand but you need to be patient with simple pairs or you will lose a lot of money.
Principle #8: Attack the Base of a Pawn Chain
A pawn chain is a set of pawns in a diagonal chain, each defending the other except the base pawn which may be undefended.
In poker, we need to attack the player who seems to be in control of the game. He or she is more likely to stay in hands that they should leave simply because they have a bigger stack. If they are complacent, they will leave their stack undefended and can lose a chunk of it in just a few misplayed hands.
Principle #9: It is Better to Draw than to Lose
Some chess games are just so close that a draw is called for. A player who pushes on in an attempt to win may make a mistake and lose the game.
In poker, we will be changed by opponents going all in. We need to hedge our bets in these situations: it is better to draw than to lose?
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