sta_pic_0In games like chess then some players look to use a shortcut when it comes to learning opening theory by using certain opening systems. The drawback of this approach is that you become very easy to prepare against when you come up against better opposition.

One such system for example is known as the “London System”. There are systems in poker as well and just like in other fields, systems can elevate the performance level of the user. However they do suffer from a problem because whether it is in chess, poker, trading or whatever……any rigid system is by sheer definition weak.

In poker such a system could be a short stack system for example. This was very successful for a while until it suffered from two serious setbacks.

  • The first was that it became widely popular meaning that too many other people were using the same system.
  • Their opponents were quick to realise what the system entailed and so could devise counter strategies to fit around it.

Timed Poker

In chess then any opponent that used a system would by sheer definition not be a strong opponent and the grandmaster would beat them. However we are actually talking about a time frame here in poker and although a chess game is also timed…….it differs from poker in that it is also played out to a conclusion.


In cash game poker there is no conclusion, if your opponent loses their stack then they can simply buy back in and if you lose yours then so can you.

Also both you and your opponent can leave the table or terminate the session or your opponent can even leave the site. So there is no conclusion like there is in a chess game and you don’t get to deliver the poker equivalent of “checkmate”.

So because cash games are not played out to a conclusion then any player that utilises a poker “system” impacts on our earning ability and also the dynamic of the game changes.

It is a bit like a chess grandmaster playing against an intermediate level player and trying to end the game in fewer than 20 moves.

Can You Gain an Edge

If their opponent chose a random opening then their chances of winning decisive material are quite good. However if their opponent chose an opening system then they could probably get to move 10-15 with little trouble and not be checkmated or lose material.

  • So it leaves the grandmaster very little time to defeat the system based on this hypothetical 20-move rule. In fact the grandmaster would be unlikely to defeat his opponent in that time frame.
  • While he would almost certainly secure advantages in the position and would be clearly superior to his opponent in every department…….he wouldn’t be given the opportunity to exercise that superiority.


This analogy fits with online poker when we play shorter sessions or our opponents do and especially when they play to a system like a short stack system for example. So the lessons are clear, stay clear of the short stacks as much as possible and also when they are sitting directly to your left.