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The Problem with Poker Lessons

I've been mulling over poker a lot, since I plan on hitting AC on Sunday night (before a South Jersey inspection on Monday morning for work...SCORE!) and have been enjoying some recent small success online. In fact, the night after I took down the Skillz game, I final tabled and took 9th place money in the Mookie. If Tuscaloosa Johnny would just slow down for a minute, I might even have a shot at the May leaderboard and a $2k WSOP package. I am also nipping at the heels of Lightning36 for the 5th place spot and a bit of casheesh on the overall leaderboard, still after playing less than 1/2 of the tourneys played by the folks in 1-5. The nearest competitor with my paltry sum of games played is in 35th place, so I'm running pretty hot when I play. Now, I just need to play a tad more to fight for some of those top spots.

Of course, I've also been thinking about poker strategy and I've come to one major conclusion about the difficulty of discussing poker strategy in a blog. Aside from random revelations from time to time (this being one of them), the real key to poker when you get beyond a basic level of competence, is learning how to be flexible. It isn't enough to merely know how to play AKo out of position, because frankly, every time you play AKo out of position, the circumstances surrounding the hand matter. Hell, they should dominate your considerations. So, it is not enough to learn how to play certain types of hands. Rather, you have to learn how to play cetain types of hands in a multitude of different ways. This also includes learning how other players play, whether they follow your style or not. I can't stand people complaining that "He called with that crap?!" because usually, that player has been calling with that crap all night, or that player was acting in reaction to your piss poor play, or the table conditions are such that it was more likely that the player was going to call with crap, or a multitude of other possibilities. It doesn't matter that you knew to raise preflop with AA. If your opponent catches lucky with 38o and you blindly keep re-raising yourself to oblivion, you are better off considering how you can account for donkeys playing crap cards rather than rant about how these donkeys exist. Yes, they exist, and they aren't necessarily 24 hour donkeys either; sometimes they misclick, other times they are tilting. Either way, flexibility is what matters, so that you don't just play a hand in a robotic manner. Flexibility is even more important when you lose too. After all, you need to be able to roll with the punches in this game.

Of course, the other reason why it is difficult to write strategy is because I'm really not learning anything new. I'm trying to refine my game by getting rid of some bad habits, but its the same bad habits I've always had. They say that people don't change, and I believe them. You are what you are, faults and all. You can work on them - in fact, you should work on them - but those faults will be always present.

Otherwise, life just keeps on moving.

I have about 5.5 people (one person showed interest, but I need to get their new email address) in a group WSOP prop bet, and also have at least one other side bet going. If anyone is interested in a WSOP prop bet or a pool, let me know.

The pool will involve each player choosing 3 poker players (we will work out a draft system). Over the course of the WSOP, you get 1 pt. for each final table and 3 pts. for each bracelet (a bracelet is only worth 3 total, not 3 for the bracelet plus 1 for the final table). At the end of the WSOP, the player with the most overall points wins the casheesh. The buy-in will be $20, and its a fun way to keep the WSOP interesting from start to finish. I need your email if you are interested, so either leave it in the comments, or email me at HighOnPokr (leave off the last E for -EV) at Yahoo dot Compadre.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:24 AM,


At 4:52 PM, Blogger GPO said...

I totally understand your post. There are only a handful of hands where things are just cut and dried and you really should not have to think about the decision. Easy example is you are relatively shortstacked later in a tournament and you have AA and are facing a raise with people behind you yet to act. Push is the only decision. I did not detail blinds and stack sizes, but you get the drift.

My buddy started a monthly game up about 1.5 years ago. We have points towards a year-end total and such. I have played with some of the players that play for up to 5 years and some 2 to 3 years. We know each other quite well. We get anywhere from 10 to 18 players. Usually hoovering around 16. We have played 15 times so far. I have won 5 times. Second three times. Third twice.

I am not here to blow my own horn, but I have been able to get a line on these people's play and figure out the best strategy to play. I seek out playing certain hands against certain people and avoid some people with the same type hands. Suited connectors is a great example. Some people I want to call a raise holding suited connectors as they are POW(pay-off wizards) other players are rocks and it is a -EV play against them.

I sometimes look like a crazy player, but there is always a method to the maddness, which at least half of them don't understand.

Here is a quick example. Last tournament there were 16 player that started with 6K stacks. 96K in play. We are down to 6 players. Avg stack 16K. Blinds 800/1600. I am in the BB. UTG folds and then they all limp around to me. I have about 17K after posting. There is 8K in the pot and no one has showed any strength. Plus no one is so short that it is an auto call if I push. So of course I push with ATC. They all fold. Sure I might look a little crazy, but it was a sound play at that moment given the exact circumstances.

I think what you were trying to say is every situation is different therefore there really is not one right answer and to play the player.

At 5:57 PM, Blogger WillWonka said...

but at the same time, it shouldn't stop you from posting hands and questions. Sure, they won't know the meta game aspects whether it be online or live.

I post alot of hands on my blog and ask for opinions and enjoy any opinions or thoughts I get as it might help in a similar circumstance the next time.

At 9:11 AM, Blogger Jordan said...

GPO, you understand what I am saying completely. There are so many factors, that the key is to be flexible, know your opponents, and move with the flow of the game. That sometimes means making unpopular plays. Players with less experience can take those plays as donkey moves, but frankly, who cares what they think, as long as you are stacking their chips.

Wonka, on the flipside, I don't mean to suggest that analyzing hands is a fool's errand. I'm all for it. I just haven't found many opportunities (i.e., worthwhile hands) lately. And that may go back to my first point. I'm playing each hand in such a flexible manner, that nothing is standing out.

That said, just check the You Decide Index on my Notable Posts sidebar. I'm all for discussing hands; it IS useful, particularly to help you understand the mind of other poker players and maybe incorporate some of their ideas into your game.

At 8:01 PM, Blogger AgSweep said...

Best strategy post I have read in a long while. The perfect example from my own little poker world is the no limit player who having busted out from (wherever) comes to play at my 2-4 limit table and then proceeds to berate limit as not really being poker. After losing a few hands where he raises A,10 with 4 people already in the pot whines how "in a real poker game" his raises would be respected. I secretly smile to myself and predict how long it will be til we felt him. We always do. If you can't adjust to the game, you probably shouldn't be playing it.

At 3:34 PM, Blogger GPO said...

I played in a totally different environment this past Friday night. My wife's cousin who plays in our monthly game has his own neighborhood game that rotates houses in his neighborhood. He calls me from time to time to come play.

This game is totally different from my normal game. This game is made of mostly of guys just wanting to get out of the house and drink some. I have named the game the human rain delay game as they play slow. These guys for the most part don't want to raise early and they will bet the min on the turn with like 6 to 9 bets in the pot. It was a limp fest with no aggression early. I knew the game would really start once the blinds got signficant. Once they did I picked up the blinds almost at will when I needed some chips. That let me survive until I busted a couple of players.
The key was the game was totally different than my normal game and I had to adjust. Plays that would work in one game would not work in the other. I ended up 2nd. That is the 3rd second I gotten without closing one out after closing out 5 tournaments after being HU.
Adaptation is the key to everything in poker. Just like how many people say Tom Dwan is a donkey and just gets hit by the deck on TV. Well, one he plays more hands and he doesn't just throw away money. The people playing him can't put him on a hand. That is huge for his opponents not to be able to do that.

At 5:07 PM, Blogger Dawn Summers said...

Hey, I'm in on the WSOP pool-- you can roll over my online Scrabble winnings for the buy-in!

Is CK doing it? Cause I run real good against her in prop bets. Heh.


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