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
They say that in many families the middle child has the most trouble competing for attention. More focus is on the first born and, also, on the newest arrival. Now, I'm not an expert on sibling interaction, being an only child, but I am an expert on poker. And in poker, being that "middle child" - the player who must make a decision between the first opponent to act and the last - definitely makes it harder to compete for profit.
In the past, we've discussed being in the middle position in the wagering chain. Often, it's uncomfortable and awkward being in the middle, right?
Televised poker has brought big changes. The two most conspicuous are (1) hold 'em is now the game of choice almost everywhere; and (2) poker tournaments are much more popular.
You've heard me talk quite a bit about poker tournaments - how they should be modified, why I don't play many, simple strategy for profit, and more. Let's go beyond that. Here's advice specific to your tournament chips and how you should use them to control your fate.
I think you'll be surprised. Let's listen to a strategy lecture I delivered long ago...
Tournaments: Your chips, your chances
One of the most perplexing problems facing a sophisticated poker player is when to stop raising. Should you elevate the pot one last time or call a truce and see what happens? Often there are advantages to just calling. But there are advantages to taking the initiative with a re-raise, too.
What should you do? Well, here's a lecture I gave years ago that can give you some valuable insight.
When should you raise AGAIN?
What I'm going to teach you today will earn money for you in all forms of poker, but we're going to use seven stud as an example.