by Ashley Adams
Simple no limit strategy calls for betting aggressively when you’re ahead, folding when behind if the eventual pot size doesn’t warrant a draw, and drawing when you figure you’ll win enough money when you hit to justify the odds against making the winning hand. A disciplined player, playing against poor and mediocre players, can make a small amount of money with this strategy. However, it has become increasingly difficult to find games with a sufficient number of poor players to make a simple basic strategy profitable. The average player in the public poker room has become significantly better over the 12 years or so that low limit no limit has been regularly spread.
So what’s the solid player to do if he wants to continue to profit in the waters of low limit no limit hold’em?
Today I’m going to share a simple trick about hands with medium prospects. It will revolutionize the way you play poker. If you use it correctly, your profits will soar. Yes, really.
In order to take advantage of my trick, you need to understand that an ace is higher than a king and that a king is higher than a queen. That’s all.
From now on, whenever you’re involved in a poker hand, you will always be translating your hand into a single card—ace, king, or queen. Just pretend that, no matter what your actual cards are, there’s a super card floating in your face. Ace, king, or queen. Visualize. Ace. King. Queen. Got it?
Okay, now I’ll explain.
by Barbara Connors
Poker has always been a contentious game. After all, it involves a group of people who gather together with the express goal of taking each other’s money. So things are bound to get a bit combative from time to time. At least in theory, this is all just part of the game, in the spirit of honorable competition among our fellow players. In theory, what brings us together at the poker table is not merely avarice but a true love of the game. But all this noble theory has a tendency to fly out the window once somebody else starts taking your money.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that poker players can occasionally feel a bit...antagonistic towards each other. In some cases, that antagonism can become seething personal hatred. The trigger for this acrimony can be any number of things—irritating table talk, a playing style that rubs you the wrong way, or in a live setting, bad personal hygiene— but more often than not it boils down to a supposedly inferior opponent who keeps getting lucky and beating you out of pots.
by David “The Maven” Chicotsky
It is not uncommon to hear players complain about having to play against amateurs. What is it about amateurs that can give more advanced players so much trouble? Quite simply, it is the fact that they are unpredictable and play their hands in unconventional ways. Prescribing to the notion that unpredictability makes players harder to play against - let’s go over some techniques that will allow us to operate outside of the normal scope of how most players play the game.
I’ve written in the past about alternating your openraise sizes pre-flop to throw off your opponents and this is one of the easiest ways to play an unconventional style. Whether it’s min-raising or 4x’ing it pre-flop, bouncing your open-raise sizings around allows us to manipulate our opponents from the very start of a hand. The same principle of alternating our sizings applies post-flop as well. When we get to the flop, we can make bets as small as 1x all the way up to the size of the pot (or in some cases over-betting the flop). This leaves us with a wide range of options when approaching a certain player, with a certain stack size, along with a specific board texture. It’s important not to fall into “robot mode” and just bet your default size on the flop every time.
by Barbara Connors
Most of us know that the ability to read your opponents is one of the most important skills any poker player can have. After all, the most clever strategizing in the world isn’t going to do you much good if it’s based on the notion that your opponent is going to respond with aggression, when in reality, he is quite conservative. Or vice versa. And so we must observe our opponents at the poker table, and then slap labels on them — this one is loose-aggressive, that one is a nit, and so on.
These labels are important, but they are only a starting point. There are some pitfalls to watch out for when using them. For one thing, once you’ve decided to put your opponent into a particular category, it’s far too easy to get locked into that initial impression to the point of excluding, ignoring, or dismissing any new information that contradicts your early read. First impressions are often very powerful, but they’re not always correct.
by Mike Caro
The process of poker requires extracting profit from pain. Your pain and theirs. Life itself is that way, too. And once you truly understand this, winning gets easy.
So, today I’ll tell you about the pain of poker. But don’t get scared. Poker pain is your friend.
Huh? Well, let’s start with some simple truth. Mental anguish and anxiety is unavoidable in life, and it’s magnified in poker. Why? Because you’re choosing to place yourself in an arena that simulates the ups and downs of a lifetime in a single session of poker. In fact, that’s the thrill of the game for many. You get to experience the unexpected treats and tragedies, highs and humiliations, all in a few hours.
Now I’m going to warn you about some things. If you just play poker for pennies, or whatever amount you can totally afford, there isn’t going to be pain involved in poker. But few people do that, because it would be like sleeping through a roller coaster ride. What would be the point?
A disagreement with Doyle
by Diane McHaffie
So, you say you have an issue with luck. Bad luck, to be precise. You feel as if everyone, everything, every happening is out to get you. You feel things couldn’t get much worse. Here’s the question: Do you think you’re unlucky or are you truly, in reality, unlucky?
Many people think that somebody else is at fault for their bad luck. They feel an overwhelming need to blame someone. Not gamblers, though, they’ve gone a step above blaming humans. They blame - events! Events, happenings, occurrences, those are responsible for gambler’s bad luck. Events. You see, in poker or in real life, there will be events, be they good or bad, that will affect you, sometimes drastically. Some events may just be ho-hum and not a determining factor in your life, just a break-even moment, as Mike Caro would say.
Speaking of Mike, as you know he’s a probability guy. He emphasizes that people, over time, will likely have as many good days as bad days, compared to the expectation of average days. Along the way, you’re likely to receive unusually weird breaks, good ones and bad ones. That’s normal. But the common notion that over your lifetime you’ll eventually break even in the luck category has Mike fervently disagreeing. Here’s why: Your life isn’t prolonged far enough into the future to allow circumstances to break even. If you could live forever, perhaps.
by David “The Maven” Chicotsky
Many poker players approach tournaments the wrong way—not realizing that they will be essentially forced to “make plays” in order to keep up with the blind increases. Even if you are very successful and get away with murder at the table, you’re still going to get naturally shallowed out by the basic structure of the tournament. Tournaments, quite simply, revolve around stealing the blinds and antes. If you’re coming from a cash game background where you can sit around all night long peddling the nuts, this hard truth can work against you.
Some of the easiest and most obvious spots to steal from are on or around the button. Make sure you’re also going out of your way to re-steal from people raising in stealing position. It’s not enough to simply call from the big blind and hope you hit your hand. We’re forced to take an active role in defending the blinds by re-raising pre-flop as well as making moves against positional raisers and bettors post-flop. The key is applying controlled aggression from many different positions with many types of pre-flop hands. Getting value out of marginal cards is critical—as we are only dealt premium and semipremium hands very rarely.
by Barbara Connors
Poker and baseball aren’t two subjects that usually go together, but today I want to talk about one of the greatest players in the history of baseball, Ted Williams, aka The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived. Of Williams’ many remarkable accomplishments during his 19-year career playing for the Boston Red Sox, he was the last player to hit over .400 in a season, a feat he achieved in 1941. No one, not even the most chemically-enhanced modern- day players, has been able to match this feat since. In his 1970 book, The Science of Hitting, Williams discussed how he was able to achieve this. He made a graph of the strike zone, which he carved into 77 mini-zones, and then painstakingly charted his expected batting average for each of those 77 zones. Swinging only at pitches in his best zones would give Williams a batting average over .400, while chasing pitches in his worst zones would reduce his batting average to .230.
This still matters because there are important lessons to be learned from Williams’ remarkable discipline. Especially in poker, discipline is critical. Knowing your “zones” — which hands produce a high probability of winning, and conversely which hands are more liable to end in a loss — is key to your long-term success or failure as a poker player.
Of course in poker the “zones” are always going to be relative, depending not only on which cards you hold, but also your position, how many opponents you face, etc. Pocket nines have a much higher expected value, or “batting average,” from late position, against a small field, than they do under the gun, facing off against a full table. Still, there are plenty of charts available that can tell you the expected value of any given starting hand from a certain position and against a specific number of opponents. These numbers are a starting point, but they are crucial to know.
by Ashley Adams
Poker is one of very few competitive endeavors that rewards losing. We may not think about it much, but losing correctly can benefit the poker player more than winning. Let me explain.
I won $300 when my AcQc made a flush against my opponent’s Jc7c. It’s not that I played the hand especially well; a complete donkey would almost surely have ended up winning the same amount from an expert. Nevertheless, I won $300—and was very pleased.
A few hours later, at a different table, I lost a hand and about $65 in the process. But in spite of the loss, I was much prouder of my performance than I was of my $300 win.
I was dealt QQ in the four seat. The player to my immediate right was a very tight and timid player. He was in very few hands, only played premium cards, and generally played them aggressively. Though he had accumulated a stack of $450 or so at this $1/2 no limit hold’em table, he exhibited a lot of timidity, I thought, when on an earlier hand he had folded bottom set, fearing a higher set. As it turned out, his opponent had top two pair. Similarly, he boasted of laying down his top pair top kicker when a wild player bet out on the river. His opponent showed his bluff.