Here’s an experiment in centralized poker

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In a recent no-limit hold’em tournament ($120 buy-in) I decided to try something new and against established rules.

Before the tournament, I decided to play one hand against every player at the table when the opportunity presented itself. My reasoning was based on a mathematical principal: When all things are considered equal there isn’t a decided advantage.

To achieve my goal several things would have to occur: I realized I wouldn’t need position when I attempted to play against each player. To do so, I would have to check-raise whenever possible out of position. Next, playing against several players in the hand would not be an issue provided there were only two players. Cards had no bearing on the hand and calling preflop and postflop would be expectable.
Raising preflop in early and middle position simply to prevent players behind me from playing would allow me to play against the blinds and limpers. Folding on the turn and showdown would be acceptable whenever I bet and was reraised, provided I had controlled the hand up to that point. In late position or on the button, I would limp to allow raises or blinds to play against me. After the flop, I would be willing to raise or reraise all bets.

Finally, I would disregard the cards, position and chip stacks; violating all of the established so-called principals of the game. Betting, raising and shoving were expectable heads-up to any player who checked to me. There were 70 or so players in the tournament. Blinds began at 25-50 and levels were 30 minutes. The tournament began at noon, I lasted until 5:15, at that time blinds were 1K-2K, with 300 antes; there were 19 players remaining.

A player raised preflop to 6K in middle position; I held pocket queens and shoved all-in with 18,600. He called and turned over pocket fours. He flopped a four and I was out.

What I found out during this experiment after only winning five hands at the showdown where cards do matter; I seldom had to go to a showdown. Simply betting, ignoring pot odds, position and stacks with a disregard for survival, I made a deep run with literally no hands. The one hand I did have (and was an overwhelming favorite), queens over fours, I lost.

SUMMATION: NLHE has degenerated into a simple game of betting. The big advantage of this style of play is you only need a good hand every now and then to maintain a stack commensurate with the blind levels. Our game is purely aggression whenever possible.

— Antonio Pinzari has been playing professionally since the ’70s. He’s the creator of 23 Poker and Wild Tallahassee Poker, which you can learn more about at WildTallahasseePoker.com.