I'm guessing you might have heard of Sklansky's Fundamental Theorem of Poker. You know, the one about winning by making the fewest mistakes and playing as you would if you could see your opponents cards.


You might also be familiar with the Beluga Theorem and Zeebo's theorem. And of course there are others, too. Everyone loves a good theorem. So I thought I would try and come up with one of my own. It's aimed mainly at beginner players, but I'd like to think it can also be a useful memory-jog for those of us who have been around the game a bit longer. Here it is:

Mytton's Theorem

The Best Way To Get Someone To Put Money Into The Pot Is To Put Money Into The Pot.

Deceptively simple, but true. The more money is in the pot the more tempting it looks to your opponent. And the more money in the pot the bigger the pot will be if and when your opponent decides to play back at you. Start slowplaying your big hands and the chances of winning a big pot are severely reduced. Bet bet and bet again. The way to build a big pot is to put money into it.

Far too many beginning players, on being dealt a powerful hand, seem to think that as soon as they make a bet everyone round the table will fold and run away screaming. So they check, they minbet, they do anything except what they should do, which of course is to put money into the pot. Disguising the monster hand becomes so important that the aim of actually winning a decent pot with it gets completely lost.

Here's an example of someone doing just that:

Mr Slowplayer here is obviously afraid everyone will fold if he shows any strength at all. Thus the tiny raise preflop, which so clearly wants to be called that it will raise the suspicions of all but the most oblivious of opponents.

Naturally he checks on the flop, 'for deception', then risks the meekest of minbets on the turn. With every street the board is getting scarier, and the folly of not getting the money in early becoming ever clearer. On the river it's another tiny bet which really serves no purpose at all. Certainly the idea of winning Villain 5's stack is furthest from Mr Slowplayer's mind by now.

Mr Slowplayer should read and remember Mytton's Theorem. Have pocket Aces? Want to win the other guy's stack? Repeat after me:

The Best Way To Get Someone To Put Money Into The Pot Is To Put Money Into The Pot.

Here's what can happen if we go ahead and encourage our opponent to commit money to a hand:

Mr Potbuilder is obviously a believer in Mytton's Theorem. The money is in before things get too tricky. Yes it's a horrid call on the turn, but good things can happen if you put pressure on by betting. We wanted to get all the money in and succeeded. The Best Way To Get Someone To Put Money Into The Pot Is To Put Money Into The Pot.

Obviously we can't just come out betting automatically every time we are strong. I'm not saying that. There are times where it can be useful to consider slowplaying, perhaps when we flop a full house or top set and it is hard for anyone else to have hit the flop at all. In that case it might be worth giving up a round of betting to allow someone to catch up a little. And we don't want to be completely predictable. Showing weakness to someone who is likely to respond with an outrageous bluff is a perfectly good strategy. But the default action with a strong hand has to be to make a largish bet. We can't fall into the fallacy that if we bet then everyone around the table will realise we have a monster hand and instantly fold.

Sure, everyone might fold if you make a solid bet. If they don't have anything and would have only checked it back anyway. Or if you check or minraise maybe someone will help you out and do your betting for you. But slowplaying and waiting for someone else to do the work of building a pot for you is a recipe for missing value.

So if you are like me and have a tendency to start playing more passively when things are not going well, maybe this theorem can act as a useful mantra to remind ourselves of what we are trying to achieve. One more time...

The Best Way To Get Someone To Put Money Into The Pot Is To Put Money Into The Pot.

PS Thanks to PSO for running the Poker Blog competition for which this is an entry. Details can be found here... https://www.pokerschoolonline.com/articles/Poker-Blog-Championship-2014