Hi. Come on in. I’m steaming a variety of fresh vegetables. It’s about time I offered some salubrious comestibles during our wandering around in the dark corners of your poker mind.
I know you like to talk strategy, but today let’s speak about strategy: “ … a plan or method for achieving a specific goal. Pick a goal — any goal. Winning at the poker table? No surprise there. The word strategy has a connotation of aggressiveness — some positive forward action, weighing your options and playing your choice.
Strategy can be as simple as throwing away your preflop hold’em hand of 7-2 offsuit, or your third-street stud hand of 9-7-4 rainbow, because experience has shown each to be a dog. Those are easy decisions, but nonetheless, strategies.
Let’s give you a pair of aces on third street in a $5-$10 seven-card stud game. (That’s a good hold’em starting hand, too, but more on that later.) You’d like to play this stud hand against one lower pair and one drawing hand. You raise. That too is easy, and that too is strategy.
Tossing a dog hand is as much strategy as working out the play of a pair of aces. It’s part of the way that a thinking person plays the Bola88 game. There’s the tactical game and there’s the psychological game. What I have been teaching in my private poker lessons for many years is a solid game of poker from which you can then deviate. I got the idea from John Wooden, who taught and coached basketball at UCLA for 27 seasons and won a record 10 national championships. When his players came to daily practice, what was stressed? Fundamentals — solid, basic fundamentals. Sure, they had some fancy plays, but day in and day out, solid, basic fundamentals were emphasized.
It’s the same with poker. Day in and day out, solid, fundamental poker wins. Sure, it’s nice to have some moves and some plays, but they aren’t what will send you to the cashier’s cage on the way home instead of directly out the door. Solid poker every session is what gets the money. Long shots don’t get the money. Long shots are more fun, and get your adrenalin flowing and your heart pounding, but they’re costly.
“ … a plan or method for achieving a specific goal. It can be as simple as tossing a garbage hand on third street, or as thoughtful as getting the maximum value from your good hands. The skill of poker is winning more money with your good hands than your opponents would with the same hands, and losing less when you do lose with mediocre hands than others would.
Strategy and skill, with a little luck, will make you an overall winner. You don’t have to win every session (which would be nice), but a solid daily game of poker will put you ahead when you figure your win rate at the end of the month.
However, I’m on the phone almost daily with new players to the game of poker. Many of them believe poker is mostly a game of luck, with a bit of strategy. So, I ask them to try this information on for size.
If your opponent plays totally incorrectly from beginning to end while you play the hand the best it could be played in the situation, but he makes his hand and you don’t, he wins. That hardly seems fair, but it is reality.
So, they next ask (having fallen into my verbal trap), then what good is skill? I tell them their skill was worthless, in that hand. But you don’t play just one hand of poker in your lifetime. If you did, you would just put all of your money in the pot, deal all of the cards, and see who wins. But you don’t put it all in on one hand. As a skillful player, you put in your money only with hands that have a positive expectation. That’s the skill of poker.
The poor player puts his money in with hands that don’t have that positive expectation. Sometimes he makes his long-shot hand, but most of the time he loses.
Over the long run, playing hands with a positive expectation will be profitable for you. The poor player doesn’t show that profit because he came to play and puts his money in without having the best of it. Foolish, huh?
Speaking of strategy: My boss wrote a book on how to win at hold’em. Most people’s bosses don’t know anything about poker. I’m luckier than that. My boss knows a lot about poker, and, instead of a raise, he gave me a copy of the book — 52 Tips for Texas Hold’em Poker by Barry Shulman. I give it the Roy West Seal of Approval (which means I’ll be stealing from it). Some big-name poker pros are saying the same thing — not about stealing from it, but about the practical tips it has that will improve your game. Every page has useful information. It’s available from Card Player. Check it out.
Now I tire and require repose. Take a baggie of the veggies and kill the light on your way out.