A few years ago I was showing a family friend how to play online poker. My friend dabbles occasionally at poker, but he doesn’t believe that the online games are beatable. It’s rigged, he says. It’s filled with ‘bots. And any kind of poker–live or online–is all about hot streaks and lucky runs, anyway. You can’t beat a random chance game in the long-term. So why study and read about the game? Worse, why write a damn blog about it?
My friend is so sure of himself, that he basically calls me a liar whenever I point out that I make a decent hourly wage at this online “hobby,” and thereby fund the occasional large discretionary purchase in my personal life through my winnings at the tables. Well, he doesn’t actually use the word “liar,” instead choosing the less inflammatory, “You’re so full of sh!t” term of endearment.
Anyway, in my long-running effort to convince him that he’s the one who is full of sh!t, I opened a couple of micro-stakes fast-fold “Zone” poker games when he had stopped by to visit with his wife. Here’s what happened:
You’re in the big blind of a cash game. The blinds are $1/$2 and everyone at the table has $50,000 in front of them. It’s folded to the button, who raises to $7. He accidentally exposes his cards in the process and you see that he holds Ac-Ad. He knows that you saw his hole cards. He did not see your cards. What range of hands should you call with? Which hands should you re-raise with?
Fold all hands
Call with any two cards (ATC), and re-raise with KK, QQ, and JJ
Call with any pair or suited connector, fold everything else
Paying attention at the tables when you're not involved directly in the hand...
The first step of the REDi system to thinking through a poker hand is Reading, and the first step to hand reading is, well, to actually begin paying attention. You can’t figure out what the bad guy is holding unless you are looking for clues and watching what’s going on at the table.
Okay, fine, this isn’t earth-shattering news, right? We all know that we have watch the action before we can decide what the villain is betting into us with. Ah, yes, but you also have to pay attention even when you’re not involved in a hand. In fact, I’d argue it’s even more important to ensure you’re paying attention after you’ve folded your hand. Let me explain…
I had pot odds, is also often heard at the poker table when a donk makes a bad call. Most of them wouldn’t know pot odds from a tuna fish sandwich.” —Dave “Memphis Mojo” Smith
You’re in a multi-table tournament. Blinds are 100/200. A novice calling station raises UTG to T500. An unknown player flat-calls in MP. Everyone, including you, has about T20K in chips. You are in the cut-off seat with Ah-Ad. What should you do?
Jim Rohn once famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Think about this for a minute. It applies to so many different aspects of life and work, often for the worst. I know family members and friends that struggle in life, almost entirely because of the people they hang around, people who drag them down and/or don’t offer any positivity or examples of goodness, people who promote bad behavior and/or want company on their race to the bottom.
I’ve also seen the opposite, where people become better and/or more successful because they’ve actively changed their environment and have found better role models to have around with. Want to be a winner? Hang around with winners and try to emulate what they do.
In poker there are good bets and bad bets – the game is simply a way of determining who can tell the difference.” –Tom “TIME” Leonard
Position, Aggression, and Caution are the Lions and Tigers and Bears of Poker
At its fundamental core, poker is a game of decision making. He who makes the best decisions makes the most money. And there is nothing more important than the decision whether to play your hand or not. Preflop decision making is the foundation upon which postflop profits are built. And integral to good preflop decisions are the holy trinity of Position, Aggression, and Caution, or PAC for short. Let me explain:
Position and Aggression and Caution are the Lions and Tigers and Bears of Preflop Hand Selection. Oh-my!
The wider the gap between VPIP & PFR, the more crap he fits into his poker calling ranges.” –Sky Matsuhashi, SmartPokerStudy.com