By: Jason Lake
Believe it or not, people used to pay hundreds of dollars a month for long-distance phone calls. Then Candice Bergen started doing TV ads in the early 90's, telling us to get the most for the least. So we did: Now we FaceTime for free.
Vilfredo Pareto didn't win any Emmys, but he did establish the concept that led to Bergen's catchphrase. The influential Italian economist (1848-1923) wrote about power laws, noting that 80% of the land in his country was owned by 20% of the people – and that 80% of the peas in his garden were produced by 20 percent of the pods. Today, we call this the 80-20 Rule, or the Pareto Principle. It just might be the most important thing you'll ever learn in poker.
The Pareto Principle can be applied in many different ways – every mental-game coach has a different spin on it. The most useful I've found so far is this: You'll get 80% of the rewards from putting in 20% of the effort. That might sound like a recipe for laziness, but it's not. Zero effort will get you nothing.
Think of it in terms of exercise. You may have heard this recommendation before: All you need to stay healthy is 20 minutes, three times a week. That's nothing compared to how much time elite athletes put into their workouts, but those people are chasing down that last – and hardest, and most gratifying –20% of the rewards. It's what makes them elite. Meanwhile, how many people even bother to invest the minimum recommended effort?
Easy as 1-2-3
So it is at the poker table. Most players, whether it's online or live, are there to have some fun. They play smaller stakes, and they don't think too hard about the game. If you put in that magic 20%, and you do it well, you should be able beat 80% of these guys in the long run.
The higher the stakes get, the more effort you'll have to put in, and the more difficult it will get. But start with that first 20%. Develop a solid ABC understanding of poker by spending 20 minutes a day, three days a week, learning about the game. There's no shortage of free stuff out there to help you along the way. You can take it a step further by thinking about dividing your poker training into different areas, and putting 20% effort into each category: profiling players, developing ranges, managing your bankroll, and so on. You might be surprised how healthy your poker game becomes.
Getting the Most for the Least in Poker
By: Jason Lake