One way to develop in poker and life is to imagine how to solve a problem from somebody else’s perspective.
One of the real gifts poker has given me is that it has been a great jumping off point to learn things from other disciplines like economics, AI, psychology and Game Theory. So here is a series of articles where I bring some of the most interesting things I have learned from other subjects outside of poker which are applicable in this game we know and love.
We all know what brainstorming is, but rolestorming takes it to a new level. Developed by business guru Rick Griggs, rolestorming is brainstorming but from the perspective of somebody else. Essentially you step into the shoes of another person by roleplaying, then brainstorm from their point of view.
For example, you might be a town planner thinking of ways to improve the morning commute for the people in your area. If you ‘rolestormed’ as the commuters – a parent, a teacher, a barista, a postal worker and a bus driver – rather than just brainstormed a bunch of ideas, you might start to arrive at some useful conclusions that you otherwise wouldn’t. In some business management exercises they even suggest rolestorming as Oprah Winfrey, Spiderman or anyone else unrelated to the topic, just to foster out of the box thinking.
The benefit of rolestorming is simply to break you out of your traditional method of thinking. We have all learned a formulaic way to do our job, rolestorming takes the pressure off us, it makes it OK to make mistakes and will often lead to interesting discoveries.
How should your opponent play to beat you?
The most useful way I think rolestorming applies to poker is simply the practice of looking at hands from the other player’s point of view. A bad way to think about the hand is just how you played it, you have a unique opportunity to learn twice as much in a hand review by also playing the hand from your opponent’s perspective.
Instead of asking if you played the hand right, also ask yourself how well your opponent played the hand? What did your opponent do right and what else could they do to exploit you even further? Doing this allows you to step away from your existing biases and also shows you how to play in the other player’s position.
If you look at solvers, they essentially rolestorm for you. A solver will show you how both players should play against each other. They show you your optimal strategy and also your opponent’s optimal strategy. It’s really good practice to put equal time into both solutions, you are leaving money on the table otherwise.
You can also do more literal rolestorming by asking yourself how somebody else would play a hand in this situation? I often find myself taking a step back and asking myself how my coach Dara would play a hand. Sometimes I do this mid-hand as a way of quickly correcting myself before I fall into one of my leaks.
Rolestorming is similar to the Solomon Paradox we looked at last week. It is easier to think objectively and creatively when we can put ourself in somebody else’s shoes.
What theories from outside of poker have helped your game? Let us know in the comments.