I didn't blog at all in Europe or during exams, but since I am back for the summer, I am going to try and blog 2/3 times a week. If anyone wants to make a blogging related bet I am all ears.
Playing The "Right" Way
About two weeks ago I was talking to a friend about the NBA and I casually mentioned that Dwight Howard was a top 5 player in the NBA. He gave me a look that said I was wrong, we started talking about Dwight and his main argument was that Dwight didn't have any good low post moves and his only offensive weapon was dunking. While he is developing a hook shot where he takes the ball whips a 4 seamer at the backboard and hopes the ball somehow falls in the hoop, for all intents and purposes he was right Dwight's offensive game is basically dunking/putbacks and getting to the FT line where he shoots inefficiently. Dwight doesn't have the low post game of Hakeem or David Robinson or Al Jefferson; however it doesn't matter. The goal of an individual player shouldn't be to mimic other greats or play aesthetically beautiful basketball it is to add the most value to one's team. Dwight would be a much better player if he developed killer low post moves, but he is still the best defensive player and one of the most efficient offensive players in the NBA in spite of this. These critiscms of Howard assume that there is a right way to play and all the previous great centres played this way. While Dwight isn't a basketball savant who showed us the light by proving that dunking is valuable, he is creating his value in a different way from most other elite centres and because of this most people are hesitant to compare him to them.
One of the reasons Dwight has been so succesfull is because he has played his own game and hasn't tried to mimc people who have skill sets he can't copy. In poker there is an opposite trend as poker communties have grown there are people who are more concerned with being "good" than actually have a high winrate. Often times taking lines that aren't standard will be very profitable, especially because most regs will assume you are taking their standard line with whatever hand you are trying to rep. This doesn't mean one should play differently for the sake of playing differently, it means their goal should be making the best decisions instead of making the standard decision. A lot of times the standard line will be the best line, however there are a lot of times when regs will make plays that seem good instead of plays that are actually good. People vbet too thin because they want to be percieved as someone who can vbet thin and not a pussy who checks back strong hands, some people won't c/c three with strong hands because they are a afraid of villian checking back the turn causing them to sheepishly showdown a set in a 10bb pot. People will stack off in terrible spots because they have the top of their range and it would be a sick spot for villian to bluff eventhough he never actually bluffs there. These things shouldn't matter at all if your goal is to make correct decisions and increase your winrate/hourly, however they do effect a lot of players (including me) decisions.
Recently I had a hand blind versus blind vs. a reg. I raised KK from the SB he called. I bet/3b on 969 with a FD, I was three betting the flop for value so he could shove air/draws etc. I had my hand hovering over the call button and was thinking "you won't shove" when he decided to call. The turn was an offsuit ten and my B game thought process would be I have pot left I value three bet the flop ... fuck it I'll put him on a dumb hand and shove the rest in and hope he calls with worse. Thinking about the hand I realized that my flop three bet for value was made under the assumption that will usually shove/fold the flop and considering he isn't raising bluff catchers on the flop his range on the turn is made up exclusively of floats or hands that have me dead to two outs. It's possible he could have floated with Tx that is now a bluff catcher, but that makes up a tiny percent of his range, so it isn't really relevant. Afer tanking I decided to c/f because I felt he would have way more nut hands than floats in his range. If I got bluffed well I guess I suck. I certainly didn't play this hand the "right" way value three bet flop, c/f blank turn isn't really in the arsenal of most players. Additionaly I probably didn't play the hand the best way, I overestimated his flop bluffraising and bluff 4betting frequency and calling the flop is probably best, however I make the best decision on the turn instead of the standard decision, because I was thinking and playing well.
I don't want people to read this and think "Just be yourself. Play your style and you will win money" What I am saying is that the right way to play is the way that will optimize your winrate. It doesn't matter how you optimize your winrate just so long as you do it. Dwight Howard is currently playing the style of basketball that makes his skill set most valuable and while he is trying to develop low post moves, he still currently playing the best way instead of the right way and that is why he is a top 5 player in the NBA.