The Fifth Factor That Turned Me Into A Winning Poker Player

I learned the power of Fear...

“Be afraid. Be very afraid.” – Geena Davis in The Fly

The fifth secret uncovered on my path to poker success occurred when I learned to fear at the poker tables. Yes, fear. Terror, fright, fearfulness. Also known as alarm, panic, agitation, trepidation, dread, consternation, and/or distress. Or: worry, angst, unease, uneasiness, apprehension, apprehensiveness, nervousness, and general foreboding. The creeps. The shivers. The willies. The heebie-jeebies, jitteriness, twitchiness, and so on. Yep, good old fashioned Fear, with a capital F.

Fear of what? 

Glad you asked: Fear that the bad guy actually has what he is representing. Fear that he has a better hand than me. Fear that I am beaten. Fear of losing my hard-won money. Fear of losing my precious, precious chips.


Sky Matsuhashi’s Smart Poker Study Podcast

Give Sky a Try!

Smart Poker Study

Long time reader’s of this blog know that I’m an avid podcast listener. Subscribers to the newsletter also know that I’m a huge fan of Sky Matsuhashi’s Smart Poker Study ‘cast, and I rarely miss one of his weekly episodes. You shouldn’t either. Sky’s advice on poker is always well reasoned, very solid, super linear, and often very funny, too. I highly recommend you give his podcast a listen….

…especially today’s episode! Sky took my recent Winning Factor #3 blog post and added in some seriously good comments, suggestions, and advice to the article. You can check it out at any of the following links:

Give Sky a Try!

The Fourth Factor That Turned Me Into a Winning Poker Player

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The Third Factor That Turned Me Into a Winning Poker Player

I Learned to Get Inside The Villain’s Head

“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.

What’s going on inside your opponent’s head? Figure this out, and you’ll soon own his chips.

The Second Factor That Turned Me Into A Winning Poker Player

Learning to hate, hate, HATE being OOP

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…

Position Disadvantage

The 10 Steps That Made Me A Winning Poker Player – Factor #1

RDM, or When Losing Can Be Winning In Disguise

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.

Poker Profit Path

And The November Nine Are…

2016 World Series of Poker Final Table

And we have the nine that will face off at the WSOP Main Event final table on 30 October (yes, not technically November):

November Nine

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…

Help on Bluffing


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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