Deep D is a lot like poker in three significant ways:
1. Information is more important than anything else.
2. You play the hand you are dealt, and try to win more than your share given the cards in your hand.
3. It ain't over until til it's over.
Information: As I turn to head deep and hear that "up" call, I need to get a read on the disc as quickly as possible. I definitely take a look, even if it loses me a small bit of speed. Personally, if that throw is a footrace, then I am likely to lose anyway...especially if they have a step or two on me. Then again, if every throw was perfectly out in front, then it would be like playing 1-card draw; you win or lose based on your raw speed everytime. And I got dealt a 3 of diamonds a long time ago. But throws aren't reliable or consistent, and there are lots of other ways to win. If I can make a quicker read than my opponent, I can win many of the discs that are too short (since I turn on them quicker if I recognize it early) and I have a better chance at discs that are turned in the win (where recognizing spin and speed can help me to pin the other player and use the win to take it away from both of us). I need that information as soon as I can.
Reading the disc is surprisingly accurate, even in a short amount of time. With a glance, I feel like I can pretty safely put my head down and run to a good spot. At U of Oregon, we used to play a game where we would huck the disc into the air, then close our eyes and run to a spot after watching for the first half-second. We did the same thing for shorter throws indoors...with no wind, you can catch 2-3 out of 10 20-yard throws with your eyes closed, if you can read it for the first 3 feet of the flight. Getting the right early read is something you can practice.
Additionally, if the "up" call was wrong or if the disc is partially blocked then I can react more quickly if I see it first.
The Hand You Are Dealt: Once I see the disc in the air, I have a good idea of how likely it is that I should win.
If it is a smaller, slower player and I have a good chance of catching up to a hanging throw, then I should be able to make the play. I'm more likely to try for a catch-block, more conscious of preventing a foul by keeping clear, and more likely to wait to go so that I don't give up an easy catch by misreading.
The better athlete that I am against, or the worse the throw/position situation...the more likely that I am going to want to bid early or try to win by position. I can take some risks, or make a read on the disc based on what it might do. For example, if the disc is coming in with some wind, and I think that there is a 1/5 chance that it might hang for longer...I might try to pin the other player so that I win those 20% of discs IF I think they are likely to beat me more than 80% of the time if I make a normal play. Occassionally, this leads to what seems like a very poor read, and a good athlete makes an easy catch. Even flat-footed. I get posterized sometimes. Losing and looking bad, to me, is no different from losing and giving a handsome, respectable effort. But occassionally I will get a block against someone I have no business blocking, by playing against those odds.
An aside...my horror situation: Getting an awesome read and position against a much better athlete. Not that this is a terribly situation, numbers-wise (I just hate having the other player own control of the outcome). At Nationals in 2004, I made the break of my life to a disc in the corner while guarding Bailey Russell (Pike). I went up with a good read and tried to stay wide in the shoulders to keep him away. It felt like a sure block, until he jumped fully around me the wrong way to come down with a goal. He made it look easy, and made me look silly.
The scariest second of my life was poaching onto a huck in the semis in 2007 and knowing that, somewhere, Damien was behind me and coming as his top speed (with the understanding that his 'slow' is faster than my 'fast'). As I went up, I had absolutely no clue whether or not this was going to be Bailey all over again. Luckily, I stuck to my read and, as it happens, Damien is about 14 yards faster than me on a 40 yard sprint...but he isn't 15 yards faster. This is my version of a huge bluff, when the other player has the ability to call or fold; your life is in their hands.
It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over: Play the thing out. You never know when a great athlete is going to bobble the disc, and your hustle might put you in position to knock it away. Catch every block you can (how many times have you ever tried to catch a block, and had it MAC up and get caught? Now, how many times have you had this happen when you swiped at it? The math comes out huge on the side of the catch-block attempt). If you jump, and miss, try to land ready to jump again. They might have missed as well, and it might be the second jump that gets you there. Just because you have the best hand, you don't start grinning and throwing chips at the pile...do the work. You may have the worst possible hand, but don't go out unless you are forced to pay to keep going. You never know which hand you might win.