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.
by Tom McEvoy
Have you ever noticed that near most poker rooms in Las Vegas there is a sports book? These sports books are located near the poker rooms for a very good reason; poker players like to bet on sports. They also like to play casino games and gamble on golf and prop bets and just about anything else you can think of. Casinos don’t get built and thrive on players beating the house. Poker is totally different. It is obvious that the casino makes money off the rake and does not care who wins; this enables the more skillful players to come out ahead. Poker is a game of skill, as we all know, even though there is a luck factor. Bad luck can be overcome by making good decisions in the long run. The same cannot be said of other forms of gambling, with few exceptions. There are a handful of skillful sports bettors and expert blackjack players that have an edge—not a big edge, but an edge. Most bettors, including the vast majority of poker players, do not put in the study necessary to win in these other games. They get a rush off the action—some can’t even watch a game or sporting event on television if they don’t have a bet on it.
Often you can know with almost absolute certainty when a poker opponent is bluffing. Few players understand how that’s possible.
So, they fold—failing to catch the bluff—when they could have won huge pots by calling.
Obviously, knowing the secret will add significantly to your bankroll. And today, I’m going to share it with you.
First, we need to talk about Jack. In the 1970s, he was a hostile and intimidating force — a barroom brawler that people avoided. And he brought his menacing disposition to the poker tables in Gardena, California.
by David “The Maven” Chicotsky
When focusing on learning tournament poker, it is possible to be inundated with countless ways of approaching the game. One of the most popular ways of playing tournaments revolves around playing many small pots – better known as “small ball.” My general feeling is that playing as many small pots as possible is a very good thing, but just like with anything – too much of one thing can be bad for your game.
Being able to keep pots small gives us, as players, an added element of control, while also making many of our decisions easier. All of that said, there are instances where we need to go out of our way to inflate the pot (or at least stay away from a small ball strategy). There is no “one size fits all” in poker; we need to be able to adjust our play according to the conditions present in each hand (the player type we are going up against, stage of the tournament, stack sizes, texture of the board, etc.).
For example, on a board of A22 when we are holding a hand like AK, there is little point in controlling the pot. Instead of making a standard small-bet in the order of 40 or 50% of the pot, we might elect to bet 75% of the pot and purposely inflate it. In this way we get good value out of any worse ace. Also, some players view bigger bets as more “bluffy” – so, knowing who we are playing against will often factor into how small or big we bet.
by Barbara Connors
No matter how skilled you are at the technical aspects of this game, none of that much matters if you can’t get an accurate read on your opponents. Your poker livelihood depends on the ability to size up the enemy, accurately gauge his level of strength, and then decide on the best plan of attack. Most of all, you want to play against opponents who are weaker than you — because if they aren’t, your efforts are pretty much doomed to fail anyway.
But that’s precisely where so many of us run into problems. We have a very strong motive to see our opponents as weak, and so it becomes far too easy to believe they are indeed weak. All too often we look across the table at our opposition and see what we want to see. Opponents’ mistakes get blown out of proportion while any smart plays they make are either overlooked or dismissed. Or perhaps we give in to stereotypes and easy labels, in our eagerness to brand our adversaries as suckers.
by Ashley Adams
I’m a winning poker player. You want to know why? It’s because I am obsessed with where I sit.
I mean this seriously. More than any poker players I know or have ever known, I focus on where I am sitting when I play. If you want to win – you should be concerned about this too. Let me explain why.
Many serious poker players think that the key to their profitability is their skill at poker. They are only partially correct. They work on that, to the best of their ability. They read books and articles, they watch training videos, and they may even have a regular discussion group to help hone those poker skills. Then they go out to a poker game and they practice what they have learned. Try though they might, they often don’t succeed. It may well be because they don’t know where to sit.
by Barbara Connors
The only thing better than holding a powerful hand is holding a powerful hand that’s well-concealed, so you can trap your opponents for maximum profit. That’s the beauty of flopping a set, and what makes set mining such a popular strategy.
In essence, set mining is calling to see a flop with a smallish pair, with the intention of trying to hit a set. If the flop doesn’t give you a set, or better, the plan is to fold at the first sign of action. But as with every poker strategy, the ultimate success or failure of set mining depends on starting with the right conditions.
The first thing you need is odds — because if you don’t have good odds to try for your set, nothing else matters. On average, you’re going to hit a set twice in every 15 tries, giving you odds of 7.5-to-1 against. Those are the odds you have to match or beat when you measure what it costs you to see the flop against what you might win. When set mining, the goal is to see the cheapest possible flop. If the game is aggressive, if pot has been raised in front of you or is likely to get raised behind you, it’s usually best to take a pass and wait for a more advantageous spot.
This is another one of those days when I’ve instructed my interviewer to ask non-specific questions. I’m not in the mood to be pinned down.
You might argue that, since this is the latest in my series of self-interviews, I’m actually instructing myself to ask only nebulous questions. Well, you can complain and quibble all you want, but that’s the way it’s going to be.
Question 1: What would you like to talk about first? And please explain what it means.
Let me answer it this way. The question, as I understand it, is when should you quit a poker game? There are several reasons to quit, and solid reasons to keep playing, even when many players think they should quit. Here’s the deal. The trick is to find games where you can make the most money possible at reasonable risk. Notice that I said, “the most money possible.” That means you shouldn’t always remain in a game that’s profitable. There may be more profit in switching to another game. And if the profit is too thin to justify the time you’ll invest, you’re probably better off not playing. So, quit.
One thing you shouldn’t do is quit in order to preserve a win. That’s never a good reason. Dividing your playing time into artificial days or sessions is silly. The only reality is how you do overall. It’s much better to win $500 once and lose $50 three times than to win $50 three times and lose $500 once. In fact, in the first case, you net a $350 profit and in the second you suffer a $350 loss—so it’s a $700 difference.
Yet, somehow, some players feel better about amassing many wins, even if small. Winning many days in a row shouldn’t be your goal. Only your longterm results matter.
Specifically, you shouldn’t quit a game because you might lose your profit. That profit is potentially fleeting, and you’re just as likely to lose it tomorrow as today. It should be considered only a small part of the big poker game—one that lasts forever.
Mentally breaking it up into segments doesn’t change this simple reality: The more hours you play under profitable circumstances, the more money you’re likely to win. If conditions are favorable and you’re not tired or impaired, physically or emotionally, stick with it. If you quit now, you’ll only be playing fewer profitable hours—whether you end up winning or losing this time.
But, if you’ve been losing and opponents are inspired and playing better against you, because they perceive you as a target, that’s often a time to quit. You don’t have psychological control of the table.
Question 2: Thank you. Could you answer my second non-specific question now?
by Diane McHaffie
Rookie poker players are often easy to spot. Either they are the tentative ones, like Allen, who glances nervously around the poker room, undecided which table to choose, where to take the plunge. Or, like Bruce, the cocky one, who saunters daringly into the poker room, striving to appear confident, smug in the knowledge that he’s read enough books to empower him with the ability to play like a pro.
Appearances. Once seated Bruce will probably be quick to assert himself, as he wishes to appear knowledgeable and worldly. Allen will most likely sit back, quietly withdrawing into his chair, trying desperately to appear inconspicuous, while glancing thoughtfully at his opponents in trepidation. Perhaps he’s delving into the recesses of his memory, attempting to recall all those precious tidbits of wisdom he has previously read.
Poker is built on deception. If you want to extract the most money possible from opponents, sometimes you need to temporarily switch your strategy. This is known as shifting gears.
But wait! The problem with shifting gears is that most players do it at the wrong times or for the wrong reasons. They would be better off not shifting at all. In this self-interview, I’ll show you how to shift correctly.
Question 1: So, why do you need to shift gears?
Ideally, you shouldn’t shift. You should have one single most-profitable gear. But in practice, you can earn more money sometimes by shifting in order to appear less predictable. You shift because there’s always a lag between when you do it and when astute opponents realize it. They’ll be responding to your previous gear, and that gives you time to profit. But confusing your opponents isn’t the only reason to shift. Sometimes you do it to adjust to game conditions. Remember, if your opponents play way too many hands, you can stray from the standards that are profitable on paper and play more often. That’s because the average opposing hands will be weaker than usual, leaving you the opportunity to liberalize and still make more money.
So the two main reasons to shift gears are to confuse and to adapt.
Question 2: What methods of shifting do you recommend?