by George “The Engineer” Epstein
Reading the current (Dec. 3, 2012 [read the PDF]) issue of Poker Player Newspaper (PPN), I thought, “there is so much great info for poker players packed into 20 big pages.” Wendeen Eolis provides a timely review of the conflict between the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. online poker world. The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has been unable to get the DOJ to return the players’ funds held by Full Tilt Poker. Suggestion: With millions of voters playing poker, perhaps the PPA could take advantage of this asset— use its “edge.”
Mike Caro’s advice for winning at poker is always top notch. In this issue, he focuses on “Choice.” Choose your opponents so that you are more skillful than they are. The greater the skill gap, the better. Avoid tables with stronger players. Sound advice, except I don’t agree that I should “try to master several forms of poker.” As I teach my poker classes, it is best to specialize in one variety of poker so you can become the most skilled at that game—rather than a “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
Lou Krieger is the world’s greatest poker book author. He also offers fantastic poker advice. In this first in a series of columns on implied pot odds, he presents a super explanation of this important topic—even better, I must admit, than my lecture at our Claude Pepper Senior Center poker classes. I will give my students copies of Lou’s columns on “Implied Odds and Reverse Implied Odds—Go Figure.” (I know what a “reverse tell” is, but “reverse implied odds” is new to me.) Online champ, David “The Maven” Chicotsky, writes about “Utilizing Set Plays,” a unique strategy for our poker arsenals. “A set play is where you make a move (e.g., bluff) before all information is available.” Chicotsky says, “If we’re simply calling to evaluate the flop and proceed based on our hand strength, we’re playing a sucker’s game.” Be prepared “to make a play” (bluff) against your opponent.” For example, calling from the big blind with Q-J suited, expect to hit the flop only about 30% of the time. When you miss, sometimes make a play (bluff) versus your opponent. You should find “profitable situations 10 or 20% of the time on the flop,” taking down the pot, “with no hand, applying solely fold equity.”
Another example is calling a preflop raise when you are in late position, and then raising on the flop when your opponent makes a continuation bet. Alternatively, you can put in a sizable bet if everyone checks to you. Be selective against which opponent to use this set-play strategy. With a preflop raise by a tight player who raises only with big pairs, hope to hit two-pair or better on the flop. Against a very loose player, “hang on through the river with only top pair.” Against an aggressive player, expand your calling range, or counter him by bluffing more often.
Bottom Line: Don’t just depend on connecting on the flop. When you miss, consider opportunities to pressure your opponent, using set plays. Barbara Connors is as talented a poker writer as she is beautiful. In “ColdPlay,” she notes that calling a preflop raise before having invested in the pot—cold-calling—while holding an inferior hand, is a common mistake. It’s “ruinous!” Faced with this situation, usually “either reraise or get out.” But there are occasions that warrant a cold-call. Always respect a raise from a tight player in an early position; but cold-call with a reasonable hand when a maniac in a late position makes the raise. The more players staying in (higher implied pot odds), “the looser you can cold-call down to medium suited connectors or medium pairs.”
Avoid cold-calling with easily dominated hands such as K-J or A-10. Even suited, cold-calling with such hands “is just pushing your luck. Never a good idea in poker.”
Adding icing to the PPN cake, Ashley Adams challenges us with a “No Limit Quiz.” He lists a series of key questions with multiple-choice answers. Knowing the answers will make money for you. I look forward to the next issue when Ashley explains the answers.
In conclusion, PPN is without question the best poker publication for us players. Thank you Stan Sludikoff, editor/publisher.
George “The Engineer” Epstein is the author of The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners! and Hold’em or Fold’em?—An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision and teaches poker at the Claude Pepper Sr. Citizen Center in Los Angeles. Contact George at email@example.com.