The 10 Commandments of Winning Poker

The ten skills and abilities that separate the winners from the losers...

There are 10 commandments that all winning poker players adhere to. If you’re not incorporating all of these into your game, you’re probably not winning. I’m serious. The importance of these ten commandments cannot be overstated. In this post, I’m going to delve a little more deeply into where these come from and what they mean in practice. 

We’re going to start with the concepts of poker profit and expected value. Pay attention people–this is important:

Memphis Mojo Out in Seventh Place

What a great run for Memphis! Yes, it would have been better to win, but still… seventh place out of 1,720 entrants? Wow! Great job, Dave.

Another Deep WSOP Run for Dave “Memphis MOJO” Smith!

Friend and fellow poker blogger, Dave “Memphis Mojo” is doing it again!

Long-time readers of my blog know that Dave made the final table of the WSOP seniors event a few years ago. This year, he registered for the Super Seniors tournament and I’ve been (virtually) on his rail through the ride. I can’t tell you how happy I am for Dave when, late last night, he texted that they were down to 22 players and were bagging chips for the night.

Good Skill, Dave! You can take the whole thing this year!

If you set your goal as making money, you tend to play poorly when you’re losing, because you’re focusing mainly on outcomes. However, if you set your goal as being a good decision-maker, it won’t matter whether you’re winning or losing, because all that matters—all that matters—is the quality of your decisions, not the outcomes of those decisions.” – John Vorhaus, on results vs. decisions in poker.

Short-Stacking Some $100NL Zone

Playing with a 50bb stack, on purpose.

A blog reader contacted me recently to discuss his short-stacking strategies when multi-tabling PokerStars Zoom tables. He specializes in this format and is a long-term winning player. His methods begin with buying in for a non-standard short-stacking amount of 50bb. (Traditional short-stackers play with much smaller 25-35bb stacks.) When he drops to around 35bb, he rebuys back to 50bb. When he gets over 75-80bb, he cashes out and starts the process over.

We exchanged half-dozen emails on the subject, and in the end, I decided to try my own experiment with his tactics:

Leveling The Opposition

Out-thinking your opponents by moving up a level higher in thought...

A year or so ago, I was working with a fairly advanced student who wanted a tune-up to their game. In this session, we were playing a full ring $100NL cash game online, with me sweating the action on Skype. Effective stack sizes were relatively deep at 200bb. For a variety of reasons, we were playing very snug and had an ABC/nitty-TAg image, and in fact hadn’t played a hand in a couple of orbits. There was a lot of good, solid players at this table, with good hand reading apparent in most the players, and light 3betting in position and lots of aggression by the bad guys. Overall, the table was bad enough that we decided that we were going to wait for the big blind to come around and then we were going to leave this table in search of softer action elsewhere.

 
In one of the last hands dealt to us, the action folded to us in the HiJack seat. We looked down to Qs-Th and we open-raised to $3. We got called by both the CO and Button. The blinds folded and we went 3-way to the flop, with us out of position against two good players. The flop came out A-5-3 rainbow. My student C-bet to $6.75, which felt a little small to me, but otherwise I liked the play, with him obviously representing an Ace in our range. The first villain folded, but the second villain, who was a TAGgy/thinking/tricky L2 player, then 3bet us to $23. What’s the right play here?

Quiz: Flopped TPTK Facing Villain Donk Bet

Donkey Test Question #15

Question: You’re in $5/$10 NL 9-handed full-ring cash game. Everyone has about $1000. Preflop, two players limp into the pot upstream of you, one of them in EP and one in MP. You’re on the button with As-Ks. You raise to $60, the blinds fold, and you get one call from the MP player. The flop is Ad-9c-5h. The caller donks into you for $80. What should you do?

  1. Call
  2. Raise to $250
  3. Raise to $375
  4. Fold
  5. All-in
  6. Call to trap him, raise the river.

Are You Human?

Defining "tilt" as more than just steaming off money when angry or frustrated

How do you define tilt?

Answer: Any deviation from your A-Game. Yes, any.

  • Player 1: Do you tilt?
  • Player 2: No, I’m very calm when I play. Bad beats don’t affect me. I never tilt.
  • Player 1: So, you always play your absolute best A-game, 100% of the time at the table, every single session that you play?
  • Player 2: No, of course not. I’m human, not a robot.
  • Player 1: Ah, okay. Then you do tilt after all.

Exceptional Poker — Learn. Master. Crush.

Quiz: 5-5 in MP Facing Unknown Villain UTG Open Raise

Donkey Test Question #14

Question: You’re in a $5/$10 NL cash game. Full ring 10 handed. Everyone has $1000 stacks. An unknown player raises to $40 UTG. It is folded to you in MP. You hold 5d-5c. What should you do?

  1. Raise
  2. Fold
  3. Call
  4. All-in 10% of time, call 90% of time
  5. Raise to $130 about 30% of time, call 70%
  6. Raise to $175 about 30% of time, call 70%

The Three Ways To Lose at Poker…

...and why each of them is actually a good thing. Seriously.

In this session of Zone poker, I make a bad bet on the river when the river trips the board with three 3’s. This of course causes my jet-lagged brain to tangent off on the topic of losing in poker.

There are three basic ways to lose a hand of poker. First, you can suffer a bad beat (and I explain why this is actually a really good thing). Second, you can run into a cooler (which is a neutral just-part-of-poker thing). Finally, you can make a mistake or bad decision, and get your money in with the worst of it (negative EV). This third way of losing can actually be a good thing, as it can lead you to recognize your mistake and plugging that particular leak for future hands to be played. 


Exceptional Poker — Learn. Master. Crush.