Gugels Fundamental Questions of Poker

Posted on Mar 26, 2009 by Gugel in Poker Strategy

The Fundamental of Theory of Poker should guide every decision you make in a heads up match.

Note: In 6-max and fullring games, Mortons theory might override Sklanskys, but this is a HU blog, so well ignore that for now.

Anyway, the traditional Fundamental Theory of Poker by David Sklansky states:
1. Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents cards, they gain.
2. Every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose.
3. Conversely, every time opponents play their hands differently from the way they would have if they could see all your cards, you gain.
4. Every time they play their hands the same way they would have played if they could see all your cards, you lose.

What it boils down to is that you want to make the same decision you would make if you could see your opponents cards.  I know, easier said than done.

To help you out, here are Gugels Fundamental Questions of Poker.

Question 1: (Betting for Value)
If I bet/raise, what weaker hands call?

Question 2: (Bluffing)
If I bet/raise, what stronger hands fold?

When I first started playing heads up no-limit, I put these two questions on Post-It notes and stuck them on the corners of my monitor.  Before I made any decision, I would try to answer the questions.  Heres the thing though.  Only ONE question should have an answer.  That means if you dont have a good answer for at least one of the questions, youre doing something wrong AND if you think you have an answer to BOTH questions, you are doing something wrong.  Everytime you are the aggressor in a HU match, one and only one question should have an answer!

What about if your decision is to call or fold?  All you need to do is ask yourself those same two questions from the villains perspective.  If the villain bet or raised, what weaker hands is he expecting to call?  What stronger hands is he expecting to fold?

Go ahead and grab some Post-It notes, gentlemen.

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5 Responses to Gugels Fundamental Questions of Poker

  1. yaqh

    27. Mar, 2009

    re: answering yes to BOTH questions

    meh, sometimes youll have like Ahigh or so and youre thinking about cbetting flop or turn and youll find a passive sort of opponent who will continue to check/call with draws but will go ahead and fold, say, bottom pair. this is somewhat backwards thinking on villains part, but it does happen a reasonable amount, and is a legitimate spot where you can answer yes to both of your questions.


  2. Gugel

    27. Mar, 2009


    Good point. There are some rare situations (mostly on the flop) when the rule might not completely apply. Generally speaking though, its very good idea to ask yourself those two questions (and having an answer for only one) before making any decision.

  3. Primo

    29. Mar, 2009

    lol yea, vegas is gonna be the nuts, well have a house-off vs you+anskys house in HU-Anything 4 ROLLZ ;)

  4. Sherlock

    06. Apr, 2009

    You can also bet to cut out your opponents equity in a hand.
    Like say you have 22 against 87 on a 336 board, you have ~60% equity, but youd still rather like to bet to get your opponent to fold, rather than give him a free card.

    But as a general rule its good.

  5. HarrysDad

    30. Sep, 2010

    Had to think about this a bit but I agree you can only answer one of these questions, but that answer totally depends upon your read of their range.

    If I believe theyre on a draw and my A-high is good then I am betting to get a worse hand (or range of hands) to call. If I believe they have a weak pair vs. my A-high then Im betting to get that pair to fold.

    Since anytime youre betting (postflop anyway) youre betting based upon assumptions about your opponents range. You believe youre either ahead or behind that range. As a result you are either bluffing or value betting (and betting to cut their equity is a form of value betting).

    And its obvious, although not stated the article, but a bet can change from street to street from value to bluff and back again.