Last time we profiled a few typical denizens of online play. Let's continue our forensic investigation now.
With the warp-speed pace of internet poker play, it becomes important not just to profile your foes but to do so quickly and efficiently, so that you know how to respond to them in the moment. This is not so much about storing longterm information on an enemy (though you can do that, and it's helpful) but about observing a player's patterns, assigning those patterns a label, and then using the label to clarify what kind of player you're dealing with right here, right now. Players will switch gears, of course -- and when they do, you amend your label.
The low buy in no limit hold'em cash games of Southern California and elsewhere have become a happy hunting ground for aggressive players who have noticed and noted a certain flaw in their foes. I'm talking about the tendency to play too loose before the flop and too tight afterwards. If you fall victim to this tendency, you're giving your money away. If you know how to spot it and exploit it, you can absolutely crush these games.
In tournament poker the question often arises, "What is a standard raise?" Conventional wisdom suggests as standard a raise of three times the big blind or, if there are antes involved, the exact sum of the antes and blinds. Rather than yield to conventional wisdom (a product of conventional minds) I would instead ask two questions: "What are you trying to do with your raise?" and "What bet gets that job done?"
I finished writing a book today. Killer Poker Online/2. You can expect to see it in your bookstore within the year, and I hope to heck that it won't have been horrendously overtaken by events by then. Meantime, I've got a few spare minutes on my hands, and while any time during the last six months I would certainly have filled those minutes playing poker online (in the name of research, mind you) I gotta tell ya that I'm just a little sick of that recreation right now. Like they locked me in an ice cream store overnight and by morning I couldn't stand the sight of the stuff.
Hunting for something on my hard drive the other day, I stumbled upon the first poem I ever wrote in Spanish:
La pregunta es la respuesta.
Which translates as follows:
The question is the answer.
"The best offense," someone once said, "is a good pretense." In this column we're going to discuss defending your blinds, not based on what you hold, but what sort of pretense you can sell. Some blinds are easy to defend. If you happen to pick up a real hand in the blind, you'll play it straightforward and hope that the strength of your hand is enough to overcome your positional disadvantage. Some blinds are easy to surrender. If you've got crap, you fold and wait for better times.
A while back I spent a bunch of time playing poker flat on my back. Hip replacement surgery had confined me to bed, but not, thank God, to total boredom. Courtesy of my laptop and wireless internet access, I was able to while away my rehab hours playing poker online. I learned a couple of lessons through the experience, and I'd like to share them with you. First, don't imagine you're well when you're not. I thought that hip replacement surgery would affect only my hip, but it didn't. It ended up, really, kicking my whole entire body in the ass, and that was not without impact on my play.
Let me ask you two questions. First, are you a winning player? Second, how do you know? If someone tells me she's a winning player, I expect her to be able to back it up with evidence... cold, hard proof. I expect to see data sheets and printouts, or at least hand-scrawled entries in a notebook, indicating her performance and results in every session she's ever played since, ah, well, the dawn of time.
Last time I listed some ways I'm dumb at poker, and asked you to do the same. Well, did you? If not, it may not be because you're lazy. It may be rather that you're afraid: afraid to confront yourself openly and honestly. But it doesn't hurt. Truly it doesn't. Let me show you what I mean as I finish listing the principal ways I'm dumb at poker.