“The fatal errors of life are not due to man’s being unreasonable… They are due to man’s being logical.” -Oscar Wilde
The third major thing I did on the road to poker profitability was learning to get inside my opponents’ heads. More specifically, I realized that the bad guys all use logic. No, it may not resemble my own brand of poker logic—nor may it even be close to good poker—but it’s still logical—to them. Except for perhaps the most ignorant Level-0 player, all opponents have reasons for the plays they make. Yes, even the drunk maniacs. If you can figure out what the bad guy is thinking, you’re going to crush their souls at the poker tables.
What’s going on inside your opponent’s head? Figure this out, and you’ll soon own his chips.
The second most important thing I did on my path to winning poker was learning to sleep, eat, and breathe position. Yes, position. Good ‘ole boring preflop position. And, yes, I know; I can hear you sighing. Sorry. Everyone understands position is important, right? What’s the big deal? Well, let me explain…
Yes, it’s true. I’m that rare, mythical beast: a long-term winning poker player. I primarily play No Limit Texas Hold’em (NLHE) at small- and mid-stakes online. For years now, I have earned a consistent average of $65 per hour at these tables. I also play online Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) at the micro-stakes tables, earning (a high-variance) $12-$15/hour. In total, I’ve played in excess of two million hands of poker. I have coached and advised dozens of blog readers and students to profitability, including two who are now full-time professional players. In all, I’ve been a serious amateur player for close to 15 years and have been consistently profitable the majority of that time. Looking back, I can identify ten specific factors that have contributed the most to my success. Today, and in the next few subsequent posts, I’m going discuss these ten steps I took in my poker education, starting with one of the most basic and powerful of all: Accepting RDM.
And we have the nine that will face off at the WSOP Main Event final table on 30 October (yes, not technically November):
Irrespective of the fact that he’s the chip leader, my money is on Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy. He’s the only ‘niner to have won a bracelet before (two, in fact) and has the largest lifetime WSOP winnings of the group. I’d also argue he has the most experience playing in these types of situations. Watching him chip up over the last two days of the tournament was very impressive.
I also think Vayo and Hallaert are threats, as is Benger, but his chip disadvantage is going to mean a pretty big uphill battle awaits. Ninth place is worth a cool $1M, and first is good for an even $8-megabucks. Should be a fun one. Set your DVRs…
I received an email the other day from a new newsletter subscriber. He was replying to the standard welcome email I send out when someone initially signs up. In that welcome email, I ask the question: “What is the number one thing you’re struggling with at the tables right now?”
The reply I received from this new subscriber was:
“Bluffing or representing power after a weak flop. I know position is a big role as well as the pre flop setup.”
Here’s what I wrote back:
The Danger of (Mis)Using the Rule of 4-and-2 When Chasing Draws
I’d love for you to read this important tip on how not to make bad drawing decisions when using the ubiquitous “rule of 4/2”. But you can’t read it—unless of course you’re a subscriber to the newsletter list.
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Question: You’re in a $5/$10 NL 6-handed cash game. It has folded around to the cutoff, who is a weak player. He has a $400 stack and raises to $40. You have him covered, and you re-raise from the button to $100. You hold Ac-Ah. He calls. The flop comes out Kd-6s-4s. He bets $100. What should you do?
Back in Issue #40 of the Exceptional Poker Newsletter, I posted a short article on why “betting to protect” against draws is not smart poker. Wow, I struck a nerve. I’ve subsequently received a half dozen emails and questions on the subject. Most were polite and respectful, but some weren’t. Here’s an example:
“…You obviously don’t understand the reasons to bet in texas hold-em. When you have top pair hand and you’re [sic] opponent has a straight draw that can beat yours you have to bet to protect your hand against the straight. Read any book on poker and it will tell you this is why you need to bet. I don’t think you understand poker as good as you think you do if you tell us not to bet to protect against draws. I am going to unsubscribe from you’re [sic] newsletter because of this bad advice…”
Uh, I’m sorry you’re leaving the list, but I respectfully disagree with your statement about betting to protect. You should never bet in poker to “protect” your hand, just as you should never bet in poker to gather information about your opponents’ hands. These two things (protection and information) are nice side benefits of betting, but they should never be the primary reason you make a bet or raise. The only* two reasons to bet are: a) for value (i.e., you think you can get a worse hand to call) or, b) as a bluff (i.e., you think you can get a better hand to fold). Sometimes we bet as a middle-ground combination of these two things (e.g., semi-bluff), but we never, ever, ever should bet for the reason “protecting” our hand. Doing so is dumb poker, and it’s costing you money. Let me explain why this is so with some escalating hand examples:
Question: You’re in a $5/$10 NL full-ring cash game. Everyone has $1200 stacks. The UTG player (tight-aggressive) raises to $50 and gets two calls from solid, tight-aggressive players. You’re in the BB w/ KhKc. You re-raise to $250 and get 3 callers. The flop is Qd-8c-3h. You bet $300 on the flop. The UTG player calls and a middle position player moves all-in for $750 more. What should you do?
- Call All-In
Attention Newsletter Subscribers: Email Address Change
It’s a long story, but I’m transitioning to a new email address: Mark@ExceptionalPoker.com
I can/will still respond to email inadvertently sent to the old address, but I’d prefer readers start using the new one to contact me. And, more importantly, newsletter subscribers will be receiving their free weekly issues via the new email address–starting today. If you’re a newsletter subscriber, and you haven’t yet received issue number #39 (which went out today, Saturday, May 7, 2016), please check your email program’s spam filter. The newsletter could easily be stuck in that virtual limbo unless/until you add Mark@ExceptionalPoker.com to your approved contacts list.
Thanks to all!
PS. if you’re not yet a subscriber to the weekly newsletter, which is chockful of additional poker tips, links, quotes, and information, please sign up now! Today’s issue #39 was on how to set up a spreadsheet-based session record log, and I included a link to a free downloadable Excel spreadsheet that you can start using today. What are you waiting for? It’s free and easy to subscribe, plus you get access to all the back issues: Subscribe Here!