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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    PFO Points

    Default Multiple Level Thinking in Poker

    I was reading Sklansky's book a little bit tonight, always good to go over old material because sometimes it's been so long it feels new again, but the Multiple Level Thinking has always been one of his discussions that I didn't fully grasp, but did like to at least understand the concept of before I sit down at the table.

    For those that don't know Multiple Level Thinking is the level your opponent thinks at. The Zeroth level is thinking only about what cards you hold. (If Villain shoves into your turn bet on a A44Q board and you hold pocket 4's as I did earlier in a ring hand analysis then thats all you need to think about since you hold the stone cold nuts and its a very easy decision).

    Then theres first level, thinking about what your opponent has.

    2nd level, thinking about what your opponent thinks you have

    3rd level, thinking about what you think, your opponent thinks, you have.

    4th level is what your opponent thinks, what you think, what your opponent thinks, what you have. I think I got that right, 4th level really does sound like Poker mumbo jumbo at this point.

    So me and Equity were discussing what level our average poker opponent thinks on, I think I might be capable of thinking on 2nd or 3rd level, definitely not 4th level though.

    So if your Hellmuth's, Ivey's and Daniel Negreanu's all are capable of thinking on the 4th level, presumably, like in a deep stack cash game (also it mentions that you really need the higher levels of thinking the higher the stack to pot ratios are), what is your average run of the mill Casino Fish capable of? Equity said he thinks at the zeroth level for the most part, and at most the first level. If this is the case and I'm capable of thinking on 2nd or 3rd level, plus I have a pretty solid knowledge base of the fundamentals of poker, I wonder if this means that I could probably crush the players in a casino setting even though most of my experience is online.

  2. #2
    Brigadier General
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Levittown PA
    PFO Points
    Blog Entries


    Actually, the levels are all off by one:

    Zeroth level is a complete newb who doesn't even know what he has -
    Level 1 - The player is playing his own cards and doesn't consider your hand
    Level 2 - the player is thinking about what his opponent has
    Level 3 - The player is thinking about what his opponent thinks he has
    Level 4 - The player is thinking about what his opponent thinks he thinks he has

    and so on. The levels continue up from there. The best players think even higher than this. Most amateurs do not go much above Level 2.


    Alot of the players I play against in the regular casino games are Level 1, they are only thinking about their own cards. Some are attempting to play level 2, but are bad at level 2 thinking. By this I mean they try to think about what you have, but they are the ones that say things like, I put you on AK, instead of considering a range a cards, they put players on specific hands, then there are level 2 players at different skill levels of level 2.

    In my mind the above paragraph encapsulates about 90% of the players. So for the most part, there is never any reason to go beyond level 3 thinking. Remember, you should only play 1 level higher than your opposition. If you are playing level 3 against a level 1 player you will only be leveling yourself.
    Last edited by jjpregler; November 26th, 2014 at 03:53 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Little View Post
    I typed out a nice long reply then I realized it said almost the exact same thing as jjpregler said right above me.

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