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.
Whenever I'm seated at a poker table, one of my main missions is to make my opponents feel comfortable with me. I believe the more they enjoy my presence, the more money I'll make.
I love poker dealers. I've befriended dealers, consulted dealers, dated dealers, married dealers, and daydreamed about dealers. That's why it makes my heart hurt when we quarrel.
No-limit poker is much more complicated than limit poker. If analyzing when to bet, raise, call, or fold with precisely which hands in exactly what situations isn't enough to keep you busy, try adding the option to choose the size of your bets and raises. That's no-limit.
And I can tell you with absolute certainty that this makes finding the right decision significantly harder. I know, because I've programmed both limit and no-limit. What's the perfect bet? Is it moving all-in, $300, $5,000, what? And let's say it's about $300. Is $325 a little better or a little worse?
Sometimes in poker, things that seem unimportant make a shocking difference to your bankroll. Tipping the dealer is an example. Most of us tip routinely and appropriately. And I'm in favor of that, as you'll soon discover.
But one thing that's seldom discussed is that tipping changes the value of poker hands and often dictates which ones we can profitably play.
I'd feel honored if you listened closely to this obscure lecture I delivered online years ago.
The odd truth about tipping