|Author: David Apostolico
Publisher: Lyle Stuart
Pub. Date: February 2005
Sport as war is a concept that has been around for a while, though likely offensive to those who have actually been in war. Some have tried to adopt the strategies of war as a blueprint for winning games. A Canadian hockey coach, Barry Melrose, achieved some notoriety a few decades ago when he said he was following many of the strategies which Attilla The Hun had described for use in battle.
Daivd Apostolico has done something similar in his book, “Tournament Poker And The Art Of War.” He does address the issue of not wanting to offend those who have participated in war, so he is not equating poker with actual combat. But he is trying to show how the organization of a general strategy with solid principles is as applicable at the poker table as anywhere else.
Specifically, Apostolico has taken the words of Sun-Zsu, a Chinese general from approximately 25 centuries ago, who may or may not have really existed. But whether it was one person or more, the war strategies of Sun-Zsu are very specific. He had thirteen points in his strategy, detailing such things as how to plan for war, how to attack, tactics, variations and how to use spies. The points are all well-prepared and quite logical.
Apostolico’s book tries to establish principals for poker based on the same type of logical approach. He has ten points, rather than thirteen. They are all quite sensible and do not break new ground. Minimize risk and maximize profits, one of his ten points, is not a new concept. Neither is adjust your play as the situations change. But most players probably do not utilize all of his concepts, nor do they organize them in their strategy so clearly. Apostolico takes general ideas and turns them into a specific strategy.
After detailing his ten premises, Apostolico then shows how Sun-Zsu’s concepts can be applied to his points. Some of the time, you can clearly see the connection between battle strategy and poker strategy. “Understand the possible consequences of your actions,” “Eliminate your opponent the first chance you get” and “Use your strength to exploit your enemy’s weakness” are ideas that would work for both the table game and the battlefield, as is another of his ten points, “Know Thy Enemy and Know Thyself.” But there are also times when the author seems to be stretching the ancient teachings a bit to make his points.
The title of the book indicates that it is designed specifically for tournament play, but clearly, David Apostolico’s principals in this book can be applied to all of the ways that poker is played.