by Barbara Connors
Poker is a game of decisions and some of those decisions are going to be tough. If I raise, what are the chances I’ll get called? If I call, will a player behind me raise? What is likely to happen on the next betting round? And perhaps the most important question of all—what cards does my opponent have? Is he betting with the best hand, or is he weak, or is he betting at me with complete air?
And then of course there is position, pot odds, potential outs to improve, stack size, table image, and more to consider. Given all this, it’s no wonder that poker players faced with a difficult decision will sometimes feel the need to take an extra minute. Or two. Or three, or four, or five… When a player takes an extra-long time to act on his hand, that’s known as going into the tank, or more commonly, tanking. For better or worse, tanking is becoming more common in poker games of late. Whether the player in question legitimately needs the extra time to think through a challenging decision, or is not-so-legitimately wasting everyone’s time depends entirely on the context.
Sadly, I must report on a poker epidemic. It’s destroying the profit of millions of serious hold ’em players. And it’s happening before our very eyes.
I’m talking about the epidemic of raising too often before the flop. Many players are doing this to command the table and to reduce risk when they hold hands that have an advantage right now, but are vulnerable to the flop.
So, what’s wrong with that? After all, you see modern players doing it on TV and winning. It must be right. Don’t old-time strategies fall victim to this trending new pre-flop aggression? It seems like it.
But, wait! It’s an illusion When players are overly aggressive, they win a lot of pots. As they accomplish this, they seem superior to other players, but their profits diminish. It’s the only thing that can possibly happen.
by David “The Maven” Chicotsky
Let’s discuss “meta-game” theories and how they relate to tournament poker. I’ve always been very reluctant to play “balanced” - the main reason being that we are constantly being moved around from table to table in tournaments. What’s the point of balancing your re-raising range (or check-raising range, amongst other ranges) if you’re only going to play against a player for an hour or two? By the time they figure out what you’re doing - the table will get broken and you’re well on your way to menacing a whole other set of opponents.
Metagaming, from Wikipedia, “is a broad term usually used to define any strategy, action, or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. Another definition refers to the game universe outside of the game itself.”
You earn poker profit only if your opponents make mistakes. That’s the fundamental truth about winning.
Nobody plays poker perfectly, so the battle is over mistakes. The players whose mistakes are the fewest or least costly eventually win. Mistakes made by opponents will naturally occur. But why settle for just those. You should entice even more of them. Today, we’ll examine how to do that.
Enticing covers many things, from projecting a personality that makes losing more comfortable for your opponents to eliciting bets and raises through subtle psychological maneuvers. But let’s go a step further. Let’s simply entice weak opponents to play in our pots. That’s indirectly enticing mistakes, because weak opponents make plenty of them.
Where the money lives
The most important key to enticing is to make yourself someone who weak opponents prefer to play against. Look at it this way. You’re trying to play in a land of weak opposition, because that’s where the money lives. Right?
by Ashley Adams
You’re going to make them, these mistakes at the table. You’re going to make them, so you should figure out how you’re going to deal with them when you make them. Why am I so sure that you’ll make mistakes at the poker table? Because I make them. Recently I made a colossal one. It could have ruined my game for the night. That it didn’t is the product of having learned to deal with mistakes like this over the many years that I’ve been playing poker. Here’s what happened.
I was in a relatively soft $1 - $2 no limit game at Foxwoods. Everyone was friendly and most were laughing much of the time. Players were generally tight. So my new style of being loose and aggressive was working—building pots, or letting others build them, and then stealing them with aggressive play on the flop and turn.
by Barbara Connors
Poker players spend a great deal of time talking about bad beats and suckouts and the idiot who hit his two-outer on the river. So it’s easy to forget sometimes that the poker gods can give as well as take away. And one of the best poker gifts of all is known as the big blind special.
This particular bonus comes in two parts. First you get a free walk in the big blind with marginal cards. Then the flop hits those marginal cards well enough to actually give you a big hand. After a tough session of watching your premium pairs get cracked, big aces that never hit and draws that never come in, it’s strange to finally drag a pot with 8-3 offsuit because the flop came down 3-3-8, but that’s poker for you.
Poker is a business. And as in most businesses, it can pay to advertise. Many players don’t advertise effectively when they’re in a game. They do it at bad times. They do it too often or not often enough Their “ads” are poorly conceived. Or they pay too much. Today, I’ll explain the art of profitable advertising in poker.
When you sit in a poker game, you’re setting up shop — you’re in business. The first thing you must do is find the best location — the right game that affords the most potential to make money.
That usually means choosing a table where players are entering pots and calling more than they should. Avoid games with many raises from aggressive players, though. You really want loose, meek opponents who will reward you by calling when you hold superior hands, but won’t press every advantage. When you see them, it’s the right place to locate your business today.
And remember, most physical businesses must choose a permanent location. And you’ve heard that location is everything when measuring the success of a store. Same in poker — except you have the luxury of moving to a better location anytime you want.
Store? How does that apply to poker? Don’t stores sell things?
David “The Maven” Chicotsky
• Leading out with only one other player in the hand, for more than half the pot. How often do you see players lead out for the entire pot with top pair, only to garner a fold? Even check-raising with strong hands induces too many folds (in my opinion) to be an every-time type action. Sometimes taking a weaker line like check-calling, with more inherent risk and patience will garner you more chips throughout the entire hand. When you have a strong hand, don’t let your opponent fold on the flop. Be sure to gain chips through the turn and river as well.
• Re-raising too big pre-flop or on the flop. If you have a strong hand, don’t thin the field so fast by re-raising too big. Don’t be so scared of letting another card peel off that you forgo long-run value. How often do you see a player essentially over-bet the flop (or ship all in) only to show aces and proclaim, “I’m glad to take down the pot. Don’t want to get sucked out on.” This is the closest thing to ripping up money that poker offers. When you have a strong holding or are in a favorable position, make the most out of it. Value, value, value. That’s our main focus when sitting at the poker table. Don’t be a “risk based” player, be a “value oriented” player - it might be scarier at times, but it pays better.
by Barbara Connors
Why do you play poker?
The most obvious answer would be money. Most of us consider ourselves to be winning players, or we aspire to be. But if money is the only thing that keeps you coming back to the tables, that can be problematic, because until the day you finally quit poker for good, your poker winnings are always going to be at risk.
This is related to something called the “Sisyphic condition”—a term coined by psychologist Dan Ariely. The term comes from ancient Greek myths, specifically the character Sisyphus, a proud king who was punished by the gods by being forced to push the same giant boulder up the same hill over and over again. Each time Sisyphus got near the top of the hill, the boulder would roll back down to the bottom and he would have to start all over, again and again for all eternity.
Let me teach you a poker trick that makes winning much easier. It’s about caring—and it isn’t what you’re thinking.
Yes, you must care about money when you play poker. But that isn’t the big secret. If you want to win mountains of extra chips, you need to convince opponents that you don’t care. Now I’ll explain why and tell you how.
People like to spread rumors. They’ll tell you that Rosemary was out all night with Jasper, repeating what someone else said. They’ll claim that John was arrested for soliciting prostitutes. They heard it. Everyone knows it by now. So, why not repeat it? Well, maybe because it might not be true.
But this isn’t a lecture on morals or ethics. It’s about how rumors circulate and get enhanced. Maybe you heard that I like to burn $100 bills at the poker table. That “rumor” circulated for decades. People wanted it to be true, and they heard it from many others. So, what’s the harm in broadcasting it?