Friday, March 26, 2010

Cooperation as a weapon

Cooperation may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about poker or pvp. I think its fair to say the word conflict might be a more prominent describer of those activities. But the saavy warrior on the felt or in a pod will use every edge she can get to win every challenge.

C-MAC, my new corporation, conducted a pos take down in hi-sec last night as part of an ongoing merc contract. We used a small fleet of about 15-20 battleships in a remote repping configuration to rapidly put a small tower into reinforced. The mission itself is not so unique or noteworthy but the nuances of how it went and why are important.

Cooperating with others in a hostile environment is a common theme in MMOs today. Raids, Battlegrounds, Clans/Tribes/Guilds and for EVE: fleets. These are the areas in which we participate together with like minded people to reach a common goal.

There is room for solo activity. And some prefer it. But most would agree that there is a synergistic enhancement of fun and progress when working with others toward a common goal. You can do more with a team than without.

How does cooperation apply to poker? Some might think of collusion, that is, working with one or more other players by passing information and acting in a coordinated manner to take advantage of the non-participating players at a poker table. Cheating.

But this is not the most common form of cooperation in poker. What happens more often (and what you as a player should be working to improve your skills at) is understanding other players goals and tendencies in given situations and using them to work together towards a common end.

Example: Three players see a flop after some initial raising. One player is rather short stacked. The other two are relatively deep. Everyone seems to like the flop as the first deepish player bets out, the short stack player goes all in and the third player calls.

Here is the cooperation part: the first player doesn’t know for sure what the other two have. He wants to see this hand to the end. So he can re-raise and hope to push the third guy out or he too can call and see the turn card. That’s what he does.

The turn is a blank. The first player checks to the third guy (remember our short stack guy is all in and waiting to see what happens at the end of the hand). The third guy can check or bet out.

At this time, any more money that goes into the middle will go into a side pot between the first and third players. #2 is all in and the main pot is all he can win. Unless player #1 or #3 is certain they can beat the all in player and the other deep stack, there is a lack of pot odds to drive further betting.

The two remaining players will often ‘check it down’. This is cooperation. They are protecting their remaining chips and not putting themselves at greater risk by starting a new pot.

All good poker players discuss hands, strategy, lines of play, etc with other poker players. This interaction enhances the skill and development of all participants. This might not be the optimal approach if there were only 10 poker players in the world but with a field as large as poker currently has, working on your game with others is a great cooperative tool.

Whether it is poker or pvp, cooperation is a tool that needs to be honed and sharpened right along with aggression and sublety.

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