In the early nineteen-eighties, I defined a concept that would become central to my teachings about poker and the world beyond. It explains the enigma of relationships. It defines a world of comparative talents that isn't always easily listed in ascending order. Understanding it will make your life less confusing. Here is a lecture I delivered about a decade ago on the subject...
Caro's Conception: The lecture
One of the worst things in the history of the world is happening right now, right here in America, right before our eyes. And you probably don't know about.
Sure, I'm the one who creates solid guidelines governing which poker hands you can play profitably. That's me. But, even though I stress these standards that tell you which hands to call with, raise with, and fold with in which positions under which circumstances, I don't usually stick to them myself.
I expand on these standards and define more hands as playable. How come?
One of the most mysterious categories of hands for hold 'em players is called "suited connectors." As you'll soon hear repeated, the name means you begin with two cards of the same suit, usually adjacent in rank and not particularly high or low in value. Examples of suited connectors would be 10-9 of diamonds and 8-7 of clubs. These hands can be profitable in many situations. But you need to know that you won't improve them nearly as often as most players might expect. Suited connectors are often overvalued and played incorrectly.
Psychology is essential to master if you're planning to extract the most profit from your poker games. Tells can add oodles of extra cash. Finesse tactics will let you play hands in ways that add extra chips to your stacks. I teach all of this.
But none of it is enough to make you a winner unless you learn a basic game plan from the getgo. You need to have a solid understanding of the elemental components of poker before you can be comfortable with more sophisticated techniques. And that's the concept we're going to talk about today.
When you make bad poker decisions, you lose money. That's obvious. But the concept is so vague in players' minds that it sometimes isn't enough to prompt them to improve. I've found a better way to motivate you to play better. And I'm going to share it with you today.
Sure, it's just a psychological trick. Whenever you condition yourself mentally to play well, that's really what's happening - you're tricking your mind. But you're tricking it in a good way. Today I want you to forget about losing money.
Years ago I described something I termed the "Slippery Sandbag." In some games it can be your most profitable poker weapon. It's basically a check-raise without the raise. It's the art of letting an opponent hang himself, the art of deceptive passivity. The art of feigning vulnerability. The art of letting someone else do your betting.
Most of my personal history is quite blurry, and I have to piece together conversations and events as closely as I can. Oddly I specifically remember an exchange I had with a young poker player 30 years ago. I remember it, because I immediately went home and solidified my thoughts regarding it. It became the focal point for much of my teaching.
You should only bet if there is value in doing it. That seems obvious, but in the emotion of urgent decision-making in the quest of mountainous pots, we sometimes forget. We bet instinctively or irrationally.
One of the hardest lessons for hold 'em students is that they can sometimes call bets on the flop without a pair, even if they don't have four cards to a flush or an open-end straight draw. It's dangerous to teach.
Beginners need the patience to wait until they have an edge. Fine. Then you explain that they can often call bets with just two cards higher than the board. It gives them all kinds of ideas. Bad ideas. They begin to imagine that there's good in all hands, and they begin to lose discipline.