Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hold'em and trial strategy

A few weeks back I referred to David Sklansky's Theory of Poker and my colleague Mark Bennett's posting about Mr. Sklansky's fundamental theorem.

We can also take a few lessons from the so-called "Poker Brat" Phil Hellmuth (who has a record 11 wins in World Series of Poker events).  While television revels in Mr. Hellmuth's tantrums after taking a beating, I will focus on his underlying strategy that has made him a success.

On television you see all the monster bluffs the players pull off - after all, that's drama - but you don't usually get to watch the way the greats play their hands normally.  You see, the big bluff doesn't work if that's all you do; the big bluff works when you've set your opponents up by playing solid poker.

In his book, Play Poker Like the Pros, Mr. Hellmuth advocates playing very tightly, that is, only entering pots when you have two solid hole cards or when the pot is laying you good odds on a drawing hand.  He calls it his "Top Ten" strategy.  According to this strategy you should only enter a pot holding a pocket pair of 7's or better or an A-K or A-Q.  These hands give you the best odds to win the pot.

Now, you may ask, how does that relate to criminal defense?  

Push the prosecutor hard on your best cases - best sets of facts, best circumstances or best clients.  Put the state to its burden of proof.  Do it enough and you will earn a reputation that will precede you when negotiating with the state.  That reputation will allow you to sneak a marginal case by, since the prosecutor knows you only take your strongest cases to trial.


Deanna Couras Goodson said...

Try a case like Hellmuth plays, not like he talks and I'm with ya.

Paul B. Kennedy said...

I think it's a shame that most people's image of Hellmuth is as a cry-baby and not as a very intelligent poker player. Of course he does bring it on himself.