by Diane McHaffie
This morning Mike crashed into my office, frazzled and upset that someone slipped unnoticed into his office, brewed a pot of coffee and then had the audacity to steal his cup and the warmer it was sitting upon!
I shook my head, sighing. I’m quite acquainted with Mike’s forgetfulness, frequently having to search for items he misplaced. It was a given that he absentmindedly rearranged the cup and warmer to make room for something else.
Occam’s Razor. Shrugging, unperturbed and slightly amused, I reminded Mike about a column he wrote years ago concerning Occam’s Razor, and that it was unlikely someone entered the office unnoticed by the dogs or us to brew a pot of coffee, just so they could swipe his cup and warmer. I suggested that he’d merely moved the items to a more desirable spot. He vehemently denied it.
“Mike,” I reminded him, “the more obvious explanation is usually the most likely.” Rarely will the unusual or the blatantly absurd be the answer—in life and poker. Occam’s Razor seemed to pertain to this situation—straightforward is usually more plausible than a complicated answer.
Since Mike has become a more determined hermit than he had previously been and hadn’t left his lair in weeks, there wasn’t any opportunity for an intruder to perform the dastardly deed. Furthermore, our dogs would have announced any intrusion. Simple explanation. As Mike often says, “Diane, when there are two or more ways to explain something, the simpler explanation is more likely to be right.” I stood before him and reminded him of this concept. I suppose there was a very slim, quite unlikely possibility that a desperate, coffee-deprived stranger could have slipped in—but as a gambler, I’ll bet that wasn’t the case. The same concept applies to poker. Devising complex scenarios to determine why opponents are choosing their course of action can negatively affect your game.
Chad, a docile, unimaginative guy, has been plodding along, calling throughout the hand in which you’re involved, when he suddenly and impressively bets on the river. Oh, my! What’s he doing! Is he hoping you’ll call? Re-raise? Maybe he’s hoping you’ll fold? Wait, he could be bluffing! Hmm, maybe he’s trying to weave an intricate course of attack to rope you into a trap! Come on, what is the logical answer? Since he hasn’t taken risks until now, he probably made his hand, and unless you have a huge hand too, he owns the pot. Of course, any choice is possible, but if Chad hasn’t shown the inclination to bravely attempt to conquer his foes thus far, why would he start now? My guess is he’s got a killer hand. Of course, while you may sporadically stray from the simple to throw watchful players a curve and reap the rewards of catching them unawares, as Chad could have been doing, it should be practiced sparingly. As we all know, Mike is the master of creative play at the poker table, and he agrees that it should be kept in your game plan, but attempted only occasionally.
Obvious. Oh, as for Mike’s lost cup and warmer—I dutifully followed him back to the office. He pointed to where the cup and warmer were supposed to reside, but they weren’t there. Nope! I allowed my gaze to roam the nearby area and ta-da! There, innocently sitting atop the mini warmer was a white cup with “Mickey Mouse” written in black letters, just waiting for his hand to reach out and grab it. I pointed to the cup. Needless to say, he was astonished. He murmured that he had forgotten shelves were there, where he had personally placed them! He hadn’t looked in that area, obviously, which was above where he thought the cup should have been.
In Mike’s own words, “When there are two or more ways to explain a theory, the simpler one is usually better. Shave away the complexities and you have the simple answer.”
Diane McHaffie is Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. She has traveled the world coordinating events and seminars in the interest of honest poker. You can write her online at email@example.com.