When I was growing up, calling something “unscientific” was a curse–I can still hear the contempt in father’s voice when he pronounced that word. That is part of why I’ve developed such a fascination for science in unlikely places; for example, the science of football, or writing, or poker. Yes, there are elements of poker that are subject to scientific analysis. Some are obvious: You’re holding the AhKh, and there are two hearts on the flop, the odds of hitting that flush on 4th street are subject to calculation (37-9, or about 4:1, if you’re curious). Others are surprising, such as Mike Caro’s discovery of the science of tells–how to learn what your opponent is thinking by the gestures he makes.
I recently read No Limits by Chris “Fox” Wallace and Adam Stemple, on no-limit Texas hold’em cash games, where a whole different area of poker was subjected to scientific analysis: putting your opponent on a hand. That is, how do you decide, based on the information available, if the guy in the hand with you is drawing to a flush, has flopped a set, or is in on middle pair?
There is a lot more to the book than that–their approach to starting hand selection is clear and precise and makes sense. The section on bankroll management stands out as especially needed. But showing you how to go through the process of putting your opponent(s) on a hand makes this book really stand out. I should say, for the record, that Chris and Adam are both friends of mine, and have given me poker lessons. The poker lessons have made me a lot of money. The book figures to make me even more.
The book can be found here: http://www.nolimitsbook.com/
If you like poker, and want to win at it, get the book. But then don’t play against me.